Number 244: The Great Cars Issue

One conclusion we rapidly came to when planning the August issue of RACER is this: Defining what constitutes a great car is far harder than it seems. Sometimes it requires context. Did the car do the job required of it? Was it better than its rivals? Did it have the results to prove it? How strong and deep was the competition?

But how about throwing longevity into the mix, too? The obviously great Lotus 72 was still winning in its fifth season, whereas the Brawn BGP 001 was more dominant – but for only half a season or so. Then the definition gets even more blurred when you ask drivers what was the greatest car they ever drove, or greatest car they wish they had driven. It can quickly lapse into a discussion about their favorite car… and that is, sometimes, not a great one.

Still, that subjectivity is something that afflicts us all. As fans, many of us at RACER would cite the Eagle T1G as being our favorite Formula 1 car of the 1960s, but it’s doubtful any of us could argue that it was a greater car than its contemporary, the Lotus 49. So we also turned to designers, who tend to judge cars less by mere aesthetics, to tell us which ones they wish they had designed.

Oriol Servia, meanwhile, told us which new car he wished he owned. It used to be the Ferrari F458 Italia, but since driving a McLaren MP4-12C, he may have changed his mind. The car that redefines accessible hyperformance could prove to be a fantastic racecar, and we’d love to see one in the American Le Mans Series.

One car already flourishing in the ALMS is Muscle Milk Racing’s HPD ARX-03a. Fresh – or rather, grubby – from its win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, it headed south to Rick Graves’ studio to become the subject of our In Focus series.

Our other regular series, the RACER double interview, looks at Justin Wilson
and Dale Coyne’s IndyCar Series partnership. It recently resulted in a first oval win for both, so we talked with them about their past, their present and whether they have a future together.