Five Cars That Chal­lenged or Changed the Sport

Automobile - - Motorsport -

Audi R10 TDI

In De­cem­ber 2005, Audi un­veiled this pro­to­type race car pow­ered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbo diesel V-12. In its first sea­son in 2006, the R10 won Se­bring and Le Mans. Be­fore Audi re­tired the car in 2009, it won 36 of the 48 races it com­peted in.


In 2010, in re­sponse to IndyCar’s call for an all-new car to de­but in the 2012 sea­son, Ben Bowlby, who worked for Chip Ganassi Rac­ing, came up with the DeltaWing, show­ing it to stunned on­look­ers at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. Indy Car turned down the wide-hipped, nar­row-nosed Delta Wing, pow­ered by a small four-cylin­der en­gine. ALMS owner Don Panoz de­cided to fund its de­vel­op­ment, and the car was rushed through in time for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 29 races, the DeltaWing never won, but it proved that a 300-horse­power chal­lenger could in­deed com­pete with mod­els boast­ing more than dou­ble the power.

Toy­ota Ea­gle MkIII

Dan Gur­ney’s All Amer­i­can Rac­ers crushed the IMSA GTP com­pe­ti­tion from 1991 to ’93 with the Ea­gle MkIII. Gur­ney over­saw in-house con­struc­tion of the car, which was pow­ered by a Toy­ota tur­bocharged four-cylin­der. In 1992 the MkIII won nine of its 13 races, in­clud­ing the last seven in a row. In 1993 it won 10 of 11—and didn’t en­ter the 11th one. That was the end of the GTP class, doomed in part by the car’s dom­i­na­tion. Over­all the Toy­ota Ea­gle MkIII won 21 of 27 races.


Porsche 962

The 962, de­signed by Nor­bert Singer, took ev­ery­thing Porsche had learned in pro­to­type rac­ing and rolled it into a car that was com­pet­i­tive from its in­tro­duc­tion in 1984 un­til well into the 1990s, by then long in the ex­clu­sive hands of pri­va­teers. Rac­ing and win­ning in the IMSA GT Cham­pi­onship, 962s also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1986 and 1987. Jim Hall, the tac­i­turn Texan from Mid­land, built mul­ti­ple Cha­parral mod­els. But the en­tire Cha­parral sports car line, from the orig­i­nal Cha­parral 2A (the first Cha­parrals were built by Trout­man & Barnes in Cal­i­for­nia—the ones built by Hall and part­ner Hap Sharp were called Cha­parral 2s) to the wacky 2J, all re­flected the in­no­va­tion at work at Cha­parral from 1963 to 1970. An aero­dy­nam­ics ge­nius, Hall used a large, cock­pit-ad­justable rear wing and pro­gressed to the quickly out­lawed 2J “sucker” car, which had two huge fans in the rear, pow­ered by a sep­a­rate two-cylin­der en­gine to suck air from un­der the car, cre­at­ing in­cred­i­ble down­force.

Yes, Cha­parral (bot­tom) made its name in the Can-Am Se­ries. But its ideas would in­flu­ence IMSA’s and oth­ers’ race cars im­mensely. ARCHIVE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: COUR­TESY OF REVS IN­STI­TUTE, GE­OF­FREY HE­WITT COL­LEC­TION,KARL LUDVIGSEN COL­LEC­TION, AND KEN BRESLAUER COL­LEC­TION

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