Number 300: The 2019 Great Cars Issue
Who’d have thought it?
With excellent timing, that Cal Ripken-like milestone happens to coincide with RACER’s Great Cars Issue, our annual opportunity to indulge in telling stories of some of the most important and evocative machines from this sport’s vast and evolving archives.
One thing we wanted to do was ask some of the current stars of the NTT IndyCar Series which racecars from the past they’d love to drive. Interestingly, two of them chose a car that featured in our first issue, back in the spring of 1992 – the gizmo-packed, actively-suspended Williams-Renault FW14B that took Nigel Mansell to his only Formula 1 World Championship.
That Takuma Sato was just 15-years old and Josef Newgarden somewhere short of his second birthday (but probably already quick) when Mansell was holding his breath, bending the throttle against the stops, and hoping that a complex patchwork of hydraulics and MS DOS-based algorithms wouldn’t stop talking to each other halfway through Copse or 130R, shows what a magical hold some of these era-defining racecars still have over us.
Same goes for incredible machines like Porsche’s 935/78 “Moby Dick”, a GT special that cleverly exploited a rules loophole to barrel down Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight at almost 230mph in 1978, or the Roush Protofab Mercury Capris that changed the face of Trans-Am in the mid 1980s.
Cynics among us might question if any of today’s benchmarks will be looked upon with such reverence in the future. And, sure, most series’ technical regulations do a pretty good job now of cutting off any avenues to spectacular innovation. But I’m fairly confident that we’ll remember cars such as the overly-monikered Mercedes F1 W10 EQ Power+ (untouchable, unless it’s raining or really hot...), or Toyota’s two-time Le Mans-winning TS050 HYBRID.
It’s a joy to indulge in the great cars from the past, but as RACER ticks off its 300th lap, let’s not forget our current jewels, too.