1966 Lola T-90

Indy Car
Lola Racing Cars (Lola Cars International) was founded in 1961 by Eric Broadley in Huntingdon, England. Lola was one of the top chassis suppliers in sports car racing in the 1960's. In 1966 this #26 Lola was driven by two time Indianapolis winner Roger Ward. Ward qualified the car at 159.468 mph and finished 15th due to a handling problem where he dropped out after 74 laps. Roger Ward also drove the car in the Spring of 1966 at Trenton where he finished 1st and at Phoenix where he finished 2nd. After the 1966 Indianapolis race Roger Ward retired from racing. The car was also driven by Al Unser. This Lola has a 4-cylinder, 168 cubic-inch, 500 horsepower, supercharged Offenhauser engine capable of 200 mph. Twelve of these Lola's were produced.
The 1965 season had taught Lola an important lesson and for 1966, they made sure they had the T90 completed with plenty of time for testing before the 1966 Indy 500. Al Unser and Bud Tingelstad both drove T80s which were both plagued by a number of problems, including handling issues caused by a flaw in the suspension geometry.

The John Mecom Racing Team car made its inaugural racing debut at the 1966 March season opener, at the Phoenix International Raceway. The Offenhauser-powered car, driven by Roger War, finished in an impressive second place. The following month, Ward drove the T90 to its inaugural victor at Trenton's 1-mile paved oval. The race had been shortened due to rain.

Three cars were ready by May for the Indy qualifying session. All three cars were entered by John Mecom's Houston-based team. Roger Ward drove the sold Offenhauser-engined car, while Rookie Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill used Ford-power. Hill was a replacement for Walt Hansgen who had been tragically killed at LeMans Test Days while driving a Ford GT.

The T-90 had been designed to accept either a 2.8-liter, 4-cylinder Offenhauser engine or the 4.2-liter 4-cam Ford V8. The Offy engine was prepared by Meyer-Drake in Californa and featured a Paxton Roots-type supercharger and a Hilborn fuel-injection system. The result was an impressive 520 horsepower. The Ford gave slightly less power.

The engines were placed in an aluminum monocoque constructed from 16-gugage aluminum. This was compliant with Indy regulations. Addition support came from four braces placed within the pontoons. Tubular steel subframes were added to both the front and rear of the chassis. The front subframe housed the oil tank, radiator and the forward mountings for the lower wishbone. The rear two subframes were positioned above and below the two-speed Hewland gearbox. The lower subframe had the mounting points for the lower wishbone suspension.

One of the major shortcomings of the T80 was its suspension; Eric Broadley made vast improvements to alleviate these problems. The front suspension was inboard with rocker arms at the top operating the coil and damper units and lower wishbones. The rear suspension had a wide-based wishbone, a single adjustable top link, and a single top radius rod. To cope with the left-hand turns at Indianapolis, the front and rear suspension was offset to the left by three inches.

During qualifying at the 1966 Indy 500, Stewart was 11th fastest at 159.975 mph, Ward 13th at 159.46 mph and Hill 15th at 159.243 mph.

The start of the race was exciting, with a major collision resulting in eleven cars being retired and the race halted for over an hour. After several of the leaders retired due to mechanical problems or accidents, Stewart's T90 was in the lead. Hill was a front-runner as well and by lap 175 was sitting in second place.

A mere 25 miles from the finish, Stewarts car had a lack of oil pressure and was forced to retire. This left Hill in the lead. Hill would finish the race in first, with a time of 3:27:52. Stewart was shown in 6th place and Ward's car which had suffered from poor handling finished in 15th.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008
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