Number 262: The GT Issue
They're the kind of cars that take hold of our imagination as kids and never let go. As adults, some are lucky enough to turn dreams into reality and get to own and enjoy one. Yet whether you drive or merely crave one, a Grand Tourer remains the epitome of the pure, exhilarating motoring experience.
GTs have long been part of the racing scene, too, but a rationalization of previously piecemeal rules and classes, and a corresponding upsurge in interest from manufacturers, has created a new golden age. Suddenly Porsche's 911, the mainstay of GT racing for several decades, no longer has a near-monopoly.
Looking at the U.S. scene's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge alone, Porsche's rear-engined icon is merely one (fine) alternative in a vast array that encompasses cars from America (Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Cadillac), Germany (BMW, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz), Britain (Aston Martin, Bentley), Italy (Ferrari, Lamborghini) and Japan (Nissan).
So we felt it was time to highlight a category of racing that, in various forms and formats, allows amateurs to race exotica alongside pros, produces greater variety of shape and style than you'll find in any open-wheel, sedan or stock car series, and provides manufacturers a relevant platform to promote their road car tech.
While the cars are generally the stars of GT racing, this issue of RACER also turns the spotlight on three high-profile heroes who've laid down markers in 2014. Ryan Hunter-Reay's thrilling win in the Indy 500 was a typical example of speed and bravery from a racer who long ago proved he was top-rank, but continues to push his own limits.
Still in their mid-20s, you'd expect that from Daniel Ricciardo and Joey Logano, but they've each adjusted perceptions this season. At Penske, Logano's finally living up to the "prodigy" tag we all gave him five years ago. Meanwhile, Ricciardo is exceeding the expectations of everyone – not least his four-time World Champion teammate...