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A studious recovery program
Lola Cars has been acquired by Till Bechtolsheimer, a US-based British IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver who aims to bring the car brand back to the international racing scene. Bechtolsheimer acquired the brand in late 2021, taking the first six months of 2022 to put in place the people and programs needed to bring Lola back into major disciplines.
Having produced nearly 5,000 racing cars across 400 different model types, Lola’s rear catalog is lucrative, providing an excellent foundation for the next generation of racing cars. “I have always had a passion for motorsport and like most motorsport fans, I have always loved the Lola brand”Bechtolsheimer said. “What Eric Broadley and Martin Birrane have achieved with Lola is impressive. It’s a daunting but exciting prospect to try to rebuild Lola in their footsteps and do justice to their legacy.”
Amanda Birrane, Chairman of Peer Group plc, the Birrane family’s London-based property company, said: “My family are very happy that the Lola brand is owned by a businessman and racing driver who will write the next chapter for this long-established British company. car racing icon. My father would be delighted to see Lola back in competitive motorsport and especially at Le Mans. We wish Till every success.”
“I have enormous respect for the industry and understand that it will be a long process.” Bechtolsheimer continued. “We have immediate plans for substantial upgrades to the Lola Tech Center, particularly the wind tunnel, and are actively working on our first project to get the new Lolas back on track. I firmly believe that our greatest asset is the name Lola and what he means to so many people in the motorsports industry will help us attract great talent and form lasting partnerships.”
A racing car monument
The name Lola has the advantage of being known, respected and of having an immense historical heritage. Founded by Eric Broadley in 1958, Lola entered F1 in 1962, participating intermittently in the world championship over several decades. In the sixties, Lola acquired a significant reputation with a victory in the Indy 500 in 1966 and also thanks to the production of the legendary T70, which won the 24 hours of Daytona 1969. Before Dallara acquired a real monopoly , Lola was one of the main builders of single-seaters in the world, winning nearly 200 victories in the CART/Indycar/Champcar series, and the brand was a real jack-of-all-trades, producing F5000s, F3s, Group C prototypes, F3000s , Formula Atlantic or Formula Ford.
In F1, the story was complicated, linking partnerships with Beatrice Haas in the 80s then Larrousse, Scuderia Italia and to end the terrible fiasco of the Lola Mastercard of 1997. In 1998, Martin Birrane took over Lola which experienced a real revival, especially in sports-prototypes where the manufacturer produces many LMP2 chassis but also LMP1, including the magnificent Lola Aston Martin B09/60 which delighted enthusiasts with its lines, its engine and its performance. But in spite of a diversification in aeronautics among others, Lola suffers from the loss of single-seater markets, due to a trend towards the one-design formula which will be more successful in Dallara. Lola was therefore declared bankrupt in 2012, part of the assets being recovered by the company Multimatic.
The name Lola is revived by Til Bechtolsheimer, an IMSA pilot. The process will still be long, but we can only be excited to see the resurrection of such an emblematic crest of the racing car. It remains to be seen in which disciplines.