1972 Lola T310

1972 Lola T310 1972 Lola T310 1972 Lola T310 Spyder
Chassis #: HU-1
This is the only Lola 310 ever raced, and it is the last Can-Am car built by Lola. It incorporated a number of aerodynamic and chassis innovations. David Hobbs drove the car in a number of Can-Am races including Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca. The story was always the same - the Lola 310 qualified well, but lacked reliability, as the car in period was under-funded and underdeveloped. Lola could not hope to compete against the might of Porsche, McLaren and Shadow, so it turned away from Can-Am and concentrated on other forms of racing. The Lola 310 was the longest, widest Can-Am car ever built. In a racing series where too much was barely enough, this car was over the top. After the CanAm series, this car had another career as an A Sports Racer with SCCA.

Lola 310 chassis number HU-1 was eventually completely restored to the condition it is today, just as it ran in the CanAm. It has since participated in many historic events, including the Monterey Historics, the Elkhart Lake Can-Am Reunion and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

A Lola T-70 driven by John Surtees won the inaugural Can-Am (Canadian-American) Challenge in 1966. Developed by World champion driver Surtees, with 500 HP and weighing 1750 pounds, it had blinding acceleration, 0 to 100 mph in less than six seconds with stable, predictable handling. 1966 was the final year for a successful season for the Lola T70s in CanAm racing as McLaren would dominate the following year. The T70 would win only one CanAm race in 1967. The powerful McLaren M6 racers easily overpowered the T70. In retaliation, the T70 IIIB was introduced which improved power and performance. The front was improved to separate the airflow between the bottom and top of the car, thus, minimizing pressure underneath the vehicle. Power came from a 327 small-block Chevrolet engine which was later upgraded to a 350 cubic-inch unit. It would go on to win many international endurance races. One of the most famous of its victories was the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours driven by Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons.

During the 1970's, the Lola team cars were the T220 and T222. The T222 was used as a replacement partway through the season to replace the wrecked T220. The T222 sat atop a wider wheelbase and was based on the T220. The T220 had been the result of Lola founder Eric Broadley and his chief designer, Bob Marston. It had a rounded design and a full-length aluminum monocoque base. It sat atop a short wheelbase; short for the period and in comparison to other cars of the time. A devastating crash of chassis Hu1 at Atlanta convinced the team that a wider wheelbase was needed. The HU2 was given a 98-inch wheelbase with the additional length being inserted at the front end of the monocoque.

The factory backed driver was Peter Revson who drove the L&M-sponsored Lola T220 in the 1970 CanAm Challenge Series. The car proved to be very fast and provided continued competition to the dominant McLaren team.

In 1971, the Lola/Chevrolet of the prior year entered production with the intention of being sold as a customer car. The car was dubbed the T222. They were used during the 1971 season with owner/drivers Hiroshi Kazato, Dave Causey and Bob Nagel. The cars were even raced in Europe's version of CanAm, the InterSerie.

Eric Boradley developed the T260 for the 1971 season. It had had some impressive aerodynamics and in the hands of F1 Champion Jackie Stewart, it claimed two victories during the season. It was extremely fast with its only short-coming being its understeer. To correct the problem, several ideas were tried, such as attached a wing to the front. This did not fully solve the problem, and it was clear a new car would be needed for the next season.

Team Penske drove new turbocharged Porsche 917 cars for 1972. L&M switched their financial support from Carl Haas and his Lola cars to Team Penske. For the third year in a row, Haas approached Lola requesting a new car, despite the loss in financial backing. Lola's response was the T310, a brilliant automobile that was meticulously designed in a wind-tunnel. With the help of Specialized Moudlings, a body constructor, a low body, with reduced drag, and was longer the prior car, was created. Downfoce was created by the vehicles low design; the front end scooped air over the rest of the car creating down-force and planting the car onto the track. A wing on the bag was positioned low to the car and aided in reducing drag.

The body had clearly been well throughout, and the attention to detail continued throughout the car. The engine was mounted at an angle into the aluminum monocoque, in an effort to minimize the height of the car. The chassis and the suspension were similar to the prior Lola cars.

The Lola T-310 was not ready for the season's opener; its inaugural racing debut occurred at the second race. David Hobbs was assigned to the cockpit where he lined up against a very impressive field of Porsche and McLaren cars. The car was faster than the prior Lola's, but it was still off-pace compared to the competition. Modifications were made to the car, especially to the aerodynamics, to increase the effectiveness, but an overall victory would elude the single-entry T310. Its best finish occurred at Watkins Glen where it managed a four-place. This may have been a more impressive victory had not all the Porsche entries retired from the race.

The switch for L&M from a Lola to a Penske-Porsche turned out to be a smart move, as the turbocharged Penske Porsche cars had a very strong season.

For Lola, the cost was extremely steep to remain competitive in the CanAm Sport, and it was more beneficial for them to focus their efforts on smaller displacement cars that could be sold to a wider audience of customers. This meant the Lola T310 was the final Lola car produced for the Can-Am series. There was only one completed car of the T310 created. A second chassis was built but never completed. It was later sold to an Australian where it was later built into a racer and brought to Europe and became part of the Rosso Bianco Collection.

By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009
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