1969 Lola T70 Replica – 2015 Broadley T76 Mk3b Coupe

2018 Matthew Howell, Fred Lewis, Louis Galanos and Art & Revs

Ghost in the machine. Despite damage that caused a 90-minute pit-stop, a Lola T70 won the Daytona 24 Hour in 1969. Eerily, history is now repeating itself with this Broadley T76 toolroom replica… Words Richard Meaden // Photography Matthew Howell/Fred Lewis/Louis Galanos/Art & Revs.


Lola T70 Replica  History repeats itself in 24 hours at Daytona


It could be a scene plucked straight from the annals of motor sport history. A battered dark-blue-and-gold sports prototype thunders around Daytona’s daunting banked curves, patches of silver tape holding splintered glassfibre in place, scuffs and smears of rubber along its flanks offering more evidence of a violent collision earlier in the weekend. Yet still it pounds onwards, the holler of a 5.0-litre Chevy V8 ricocheting off the vast grandstands as this proud, potent, indefatigable car chases its tail in pursuit of lost time and the chance of victory.


1969 Lola T70 Replica - 2015 Broadley T76 Mk3b Coupe

1969 Lola T70 Replica – 2015 Broadley T76 Mk3b Coupe

It’s one of the defining moments of last November’s Classic 24 Hour at Daytona and the culmination of a dream shared by an Englishman named Chris Fox and a group of European racers – Gérard Lopez and Frantz Wallenborn – competing under the banner of Florent Moulin’s Luxembourg-based Art & Revs team. It’s also the perfect (and, as it transpires, eerie) epilogue to a story that began some 47 years earlier, at the 1969 Daytona 24 Hour.{module Autoads}

One third of endurance racing’s unofficial ‘Triple Crown’, Daytona held its first 24-hour race in 1966, US homeboys Ford beating Ferrari with big-block MkII GT40s to take an emphatic 1-2-3 finish. The following year Ferrari repaid the compliment by having a pair of 330 P4s and a lone 412P fill the podium with a herd of Prancing Horses.{module Autoads}

Remarkably, 1968 would see another 1-2-3, this time Porsche’s factory team choreographing a trio of 907 LHs for a picture perfect finish. The crowds might have been small, but this was big-time racing – the world’s best slugging it out for bragging rights and immortality in endurance racing’s Hall of Fame.

The 1969 race held plenty of promise. A spectacular crash in qualifying robbed the race of Matra’s wailing V12-engined M630 but, of the 62 cars that took the rolling start, Porsche fielded no fewer than five new 908s and John Wyer a pair of Ford GT40s, while the big privateer teams favoured V8-powered Lola T70s. Most notable among these was a gorgeous new Mk3B entered by Roger Penske and Mark Donohue, sporting the team’s immaculate Sunoco blue-and-gold livery and featuring unique bodywork modifications to improve aerodynamics.

Endurance racing is always unpredictable, but had the events that transpired during the 1969 Daytona 24 Hour not happened you really couldn’t have made them up. The race began a little after 3pm, the Porsches and Lolas immediately going at it hammer and tongs while the Fords hung back, adhering to a more conservative strategy. Such was the pace at the front that the leaders were muscling their way through slower traffic after only two laps, the breakaway group of Elford and Siffert’s Porsches heading the T70 Mk3B of Jo Bonnier and Ulf Norinder, itself being chased by Donohue. So far, so good.

But just before the first hour had gone, Donohue pitted early due to fuel pick-up problems that denied his Lola’s thirsty V8 the last ten gallons in the tanks. Then Bonnier clouted a backmarker and had to stop early, leaving the Porsches to form a seemingly invincible five-car train at the head of the field. Shortly afterwards, Bonnier’s co-driver Norinder returned with irreparable damage to the rear end of the T70 thanks to another incident with a backmarker.

Then, around three hours in, Porsche’s race took a bizarre and dangerous turn when cracked exhaust pipes on all five cars leaked fumes into the cockpits, forcing the near-asphyxiated drivers to pit – some for medical attention. Repairs were made and all the cars rejoined, but it would prove to be a portent of things to come.

Exhaust problems also struck Donohue, with flames licking from the tailpipes as he pitted at around 10.30pm. Large cracks were found in the system and the custom manifolds, which had to be completely removed, welded, patched with steel and braced with hose-clips, then re-fitted. The fix took an hour and 19 minutes, the equivalent of 40 laps. A lesser team would have given up, but the Penske crew continued, Donohue and his driving partner Chuck Parsons persevering with an apparently hopeless chase for the chequered flag.

Porsche, by then back in an imperious stride, was looking good for another dominant win. But just after midnight, the 907s began dropping like flies with identical engine failures. All would retire by half-distance. This left the pair of Ford GT40s in first and second positions, but unbelievably they too would encounter race-ending issues. First the leading car of Mike Hailwood retired with a cracked cylinder head, then, having inherited the lead, Jacky Ickx lost control just after sunrise, his GT40 scraping the wall before coming to rest and immediately catching fire. The Belgian ace escaped with singed eyebrows, but the car – and Ford’s race – was toast.

Against all odds this left the Penske-Donohue car in the lead, but such was its lap deficit it took 90 minutes to pass the number of laps set by the smouldering Ford and officially take the lead. Ironically, T70s had never shown the stamina to shine in 24-hour races, but in this unparalleled race of attrition the no 6 Penske car – sporting swathes of silver tape to hold its battered nose together after a collision during the night – took the flag, with the American International Racers Lola entry of film actor James Garner flanking it for an unexpected Lola one-two.

This bewildering race would be the T70’s biggest victory, albeit one that would have sat awkwardly with the sensibilities of a perfectionist and fierce competitor such as Donohue, a man for whom the manner of the win could sometimes mean more than the win itself. Not that the home fans would have cared about luck or reliability, for a car run by an all-American team, powered by an all-American V8 and driven by an all-American hero had just prevailed over the apparently unbeatable factory Porsche team to win on home soil.

Fast-Forward to 2015, and Daytona’s pit apron is once again graced by a beautiful blue-and-gold bolide. Present for the burgeoning Daytona Classic, which takes its inspiration and format from Le Mans Classic, the car could easily be Donohue’s Mk3B, but it’s actually a toolroom copy of the ’1969 winner. Called the t76 and built by Broadley automotive, the project is led by former Lola employee Chris Fox.

Embarked upon with the blessing of Lola founder Eric Broadley, and executed with such period accuracy that each of the four cars built so far (a fifth is in-build) has been granted FIA Historic Technical Papers (HTP), the Broadley T76 offers the authentic look and driving experience of an original T70 Mk3B with the reassurance of being brand new from the tyres up.

Built to Group 5 regulations around a strong aluminium monocoque and dressed in sleek glassfibre bodywork that directly influenced the shape of the Porsche 917K, the Lola T70 – and therefore the Broadley T76 – is one of the most charismatic sports racers of all time. weighing a little over 800kg and propelled by a Chevrolet V8 displacing just under 5.0 litres and comfortably producing 540bhp, its strength always lay in its combination of pace and relative simplicity. In period it lacked the outright speed of the very fastest cars, but it was quick enough for well-funded privateers to take the fight to the more exotic cars fielded by the big factory teams. Now, with Historic racing more competitive than ever and the skyrocketing seven-figure values of Porsches, Ferraris, Fords and, indeed, original Mk3 B t70s making them almost too precious to race, those qualities make the t76 (with a basic price of £250,000) an even more compelling prospect.

Of course, being a Lola man through and though, Fox knew the story of the ’1969 race and – like anyone with a drop of petrol in their veins – he has always found the Penske-Donohue T70 to be irresistibly gorgeous. He’d also long been intrigued by the unique vents on the tops of the front wheelarches, and the extended fairing over the 5.0-litre Chevy’s velocity stacks – the result of Penske and Donohue completely stripping, modifying and rebuilding their then brand-new t70 prior to the 1969 Daytona 24 Hour race.

It was inevitable, therefore, that Fox’s dream would be to build a Broadley to the same specification, right down to the pinstriping. Its debut was at the 2015 Silverstone Classic FIA Masters Historic Sportscar race, where it was driven to a fine second place by Sebring winner and (now) works Ford GT driver in the World Endurance Championship, Marino Franchitti, and some interloper by the name of Richard Meaden.

Later that summer, serendipity sent things in a glorious new direction when keen Historic racer, serial car collector and Renault F1 Team shareholder Gérard Lopez acquired the car with the express intention of taking it to Florida for the Daytona Classic. There could be no more perfect place for the car to race.

No stranger to the Daytona Classic, or to driving cars of huge Daytona 24 Hour historical significance, Lopez relishes the prospect of driving the Broadley, not just for the obvious nostalgia, but because he will be experiencing the exact same sights, sounds and physical sensations as Donohue and Parsons in 1969.

‘I think Historic racing is almost as if you are able to watch somebody repaint an old masterpiece. The same cars, racing on the same tracks where they fought for victories almost half a century before. Daytona is a special place and the Classic is a great event. I raced here last year, in a MkII GT40. I’d thought about bringing it back this year, but it’s so original that I’ve started to worry about the consequences of damaging it. The Broadley isn’t an old car, but it’s a T70 in all but name. To have this car, in the same colours and with the same body modifications as the Penske-Donohue car, is very, very cool.’

Neither Lopez nor his co-driver, Frantz Wallenborn, have had much wheel-time in the Broadley prior to it being shipped to Florida. Big, fast and loud, until you get to know it this is about as intimidating a car as you could meet. Almost as intimidating as the big, fast and steeply banked Daytona International Speedway, in fact. Put the two together, then add the fact that the Classic’s multi-race, multi-group format means you race in daylight and the dark, and you can appreciate the deep end into which the pair are plunged.

Despite this the car is quick. Very quick, in fact, Lopez topping the group timesheets as the end of qualifying nears. It’s looking like the perfect start to the weekend – right until an incident that’s like an echo from 1969. Says Lopez: ‘It was the last lap of qualifying. I was passing a Porsche 911 on the infield section, through the fast left-hander that leads into a tight right. I was on the right, he didn’t see me and also moved to the right. There was no room for two cars and no time to avoid him as I was doing around 130mph at the time! He hit me on the left side, which sent me onto the grass and I started spinning, then the 911 hit me again when I came back onto the track! That broke the front bodywork, the wishbones, upright, wheel. The car was a big mess.

‘The guys worked all night to fix the chassis and do what they could to make repairs to the glassfibre, then tape it all up. It wasn’t until we knew the car was fixed and we took a step back that we realised it looked exactly the same as in 1969. People were coming up to us and saying “You know what happened to the ’1969 car, don’t you?” and showing us photographs from the race. The cars looked identical. And I mean identical. We even had guys from Sunoco coming and looking at the car. It was an extremely weird moment. Totally nuts!’

Much like the exhaust issues that cost the Penske-Donohue so dearly, the clash with a backmarker costs the Art & Revs crew dearly. Not in time lost to those extensive post-crash repairs, but thanks to some of the patched bodywork repeatedly coming loose in the first race and resulting in unscheduled pit-stops. With the Daytona Classic’s overall group results calculated on cumulative time across the four 45-minute races, it’s hard to win back any lost time, even if it’s just minutes rather than the hour-and-a-half Donohue and Parsons had to redress.

Still, racers are racers, be they professionals with a 24-hour race to win or passionate amateurs caught up in the adrenaline-fuelled moment of a thrilling Historic meeting. And so Lopez and Wallenborn mount a comeback, their pace growing with every lap as confidence and familiarity build. By the final race of the weekend the T76 is gaining ground at a terrific rate, but there simply aren’t enough laps left to steal it, though they do climb to second overall and secure a class win.

I’m sure everyone in the team – and most likely many of the spectators – had been hoping for a fairytale finish, but in the end they all decide that it actually means more to have been a part of something so uncannily reminiscent of the race played out way back in 1969 that it could be the result of a slip in the space/time continuum.

For Fox, Lopez, Wallenborn and the Art & Revs team, it’s been an extraordinary experience. One for which the bitterness of losing what could so easily have been an outright win was sweetened by inadvertently re-enacting such an iconic moment in the history of the Daytona 24 Hour and the Lola T70. Perversely, the accident that so nearly ended their weekend – or, rather, the damage it caused – is the greatest source of joy, for it recreated the tattered look of the 1969 car so perfectly that the spine-tingling symmetry stands the hairs up on the back of your neck.

A ghost in the machine? It certainly makes you wonder.

 

Tech and photos

TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 2015 Broadley T76

Engine 4995cc Chevrolet V8

Max Power 530bhp @ 7000rpm / DIN

Max Torque 450lb ft @ 5500rpm / DIN

Transmission Hewland LG600 five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion

Suspension Front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers

Brakes All Discs

Weight 840kg

Performance Top speed 190mph


Facing page, left and top left Broadley’s Chris Fox (kneeling, in red jacket), Andrew Lindsey (next to him, leaning into the cockpit) and Rob Adams (on opposite side of car), with Florent Moulin of Art & Revs in the car, ready for shakedown testing at Rockingham Speedway; Broadley T76 in action at Daytona Classic; Donohue’s Sunoco T70 pits in ’1969. Clockwise from far left If your job is to drive a Lola T70 – or this Broadley T76 – then this is your office; Mark Donohue discusses the Sunoco T70’s set-up with the team before strapping himself in for the 1969 Daytona 24 Hour; marshal signals one more lap before the rolling start. Below, right and bottom Broadley engineers with the Art & Revs team, Frantz Wallenborn in white overalls, Gerard Lopez in black; in 1969, the Donohue Mk3B followed by the AIR T70 Mk3 that would finish second – note spooky similarity between the battered state of No 6 original and No 1 Broadley.


‘THE CAR IS QUICK. VERY QUICK, IN FACT, LOPEZ TOPPING THE GROUP TIMESHEETS AS THE END OF QUALIFYING NEARS’

‘THE LOLA T70 – AND THEREFORE THE BROADLEY T76 – IS ONE OF THE MOST CHARISMATIC SPORTS CARS OF ALL TIME’


 

Conquering the fear

What’s it like to race a Lola T70 Mk3B? Or indeed a Broadley T76, since they are essentially the same beast? Spectacular. Overwhelming. Magnificent. Intimidating. Intoxicating. Unforgettable.

Like all truly great cars, the experience begins well before you get behind the wheel. When it’s a T70, that experience is informed by history, reputation and achievement, but also the raw, gut-fizzing beauty of the thing. Then a mechanic fires-up the engine and you can add primal fear to the mix.

Rather as you can tell those used to being around horses, you’ll recognise someone who knows T70s by the way they instinctively step away from the tail when they hear the fuel pumps start to whir. That and the fact they shout, even in a quiet room. Tinnitus, it seems, goes with the territory when you hang-out with T70s.

Truly to appreciate the mettle of the monster you need to remove its rear bodywork. Then you’ll not only see that 30% of the car is engine, with another 30% comprised of fuel tanks located either side of the cockpit(!), but you’ll also appreciate the colossal size of the rear tyres. Whether on treads in Europe or slicks at Daytona, grip does not look as if it’ll be in short supply.


Lola T70 Mk3B

1969 Lola T70 Mk3B

Pull a small alloy latch, tip the door forwards, then step onto your seat and lower your backside down while threading your feet into the slightly offset footwell, most likely clonking them on the suspension arms that come through the inner wheelarch and attach to the tub somewhere beneath your right knee and shin.

When the engine fires you can almost feel the pulleys and belts tickling your shoulders through the thingauge firewall and vestigial seatback. The noise drills deep into your skull and pummels your chest cavity, revs exploding with each prod of the throttle. The gearbox is a rock-crusher, controlled via a stubby lever mounted on the right sill. First is a dogleg, but there’s so much torque you can pull away from the pits in second.

No matter what you’ve driven, the first few times you floor the throttle will truly take your breath away. You’ll most likely utter some kind of profanity, too. Don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. Dig into the T70’s performance and it devours circuits, compressing straights into big blurry lunges of tarmac and Armco. The gearbox demands you show it who’s boss, but you need positive finesse. Dither and it protests, but beast it and you’ll turn dog rings to swarf in only a few laps.

But you know what? Despite the blood and thunder and the knee-knocking fear that can threaten to overwhelm you in the pit garage, if only you can allow yourself to relax and, crucially, trust the machine, a well-sorted Mk3B is an utterly faithful and transparent friend. One that goes like holy hell and sounds like Armageddon, true, but one that grips (then slides) consistently, stops well and flatters mistakes with its ample torque. That’s why stepping into a T70 is such an event, and why you’ll never hear a bad word against them from those fortunate enough to have raced one.


 

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Additional Info
  • Year: 2015
  • Engine: Petrol V8
  • Power: 530bhp at 7000rpm
  • Torque: 450lb ft at 5500rpm

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