In my eyes 90’s GT1 racing was the pinnacle of Le Mans Prototype racing. Narrowly beating the Group C monsters of the 80’s. Yes technically the GT1 cars were “based” on road cars. By road cars I mean 2, just 2 road going versions of purpose-built racing cars had to be built to satisfy the rules of the day. This gave manufacturers the freedom to build whatever wild machines they wanted to. The result was some of the greatest creations ever to grace La Sarthe’s hallowed ground.
Porsche GT1, Mercedes’ CLK GTR (The CLK LM was the Merc infamous for flipping at Le Mans) and McLaren F1 GTR (Ironically, there are more F1’s on the road than almost all of the others combined). Japan got in on the fun as well. Toyota raced their TS020 aka The GT-One and Nissan competed with their R390 GT1. Lesser known companies like Lister (Storm) and Venturi (400LM, 500LM & 600 LM.) Not to be left out America got in on the action but not from where you might have expected it. Panoz proudly flew the American flag with their Esperante GT1. The Esperante coincidently was one of the first racing cars to mess with Hybrid technology.
Sadly growing costs and the increasing speed of the Le Mans Prototypes spelled the end for GT1. However if you long for one of the greatest periods in motor-racing don’t worry. The good folks over at Goodwood have you covered. Long the standard for historic racing Goodwood will be displaying GT1 machinery at its Members Meeting next March. The Porsche GT1, Mercedes CLK GTR and McLaren F1 GTR will all be making appearances. In addition homologation specials such as the Jaguar’s XJ220C, Ferrari’s F40LM and Lister’s Storm V12 from the BPR Global GT series will be on hand. These cars are interesting as they were the forerunners of the official GT1 Class. Group A touring cars and 3.0-litre sportscars will also be in attendance.
The Goodwood Members Meeting will take place March 18-19 2017.