On Sunday, October 12th, an estimated 10,000 spectators packed the streets of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, U.K. to support Lola Cars landmark 50th Anniversary parade of racing cars. The impressive display of 20 cars represented the marque’s most iconic models from the past half century through to Lola’s all-new 2008 designs.
Some of Lola’s most successful drivers were reunited with the winning line-up of cars supporting Lola’s Golden celebration. The Lola legends included John Surtees OBE, Richard Attwood, Teddy Pilette, Chris Craft, Mike Blanchet, James Weaver, Julian Bailey, Anthony Reid, Peter Ashdown and Hugh Dibley. Sir Jackie Stewart’s 1967 Indy 500 Lola T92 was driven by Lola owner and Executive Chairman Martin Birrane who has raced and won in many Lola’s down the years. Current racers included Le Mans Series driver Mike Newton, Malaysian A1 Grand Prix driver Fairuz Fauzy and Danny Watts.
At midday and in brilliant autumn sunshine, Councillor Saeed Akthar, the Mayor of Huntingdon, waved the Union Jack to officially start the parade from Lola’s state-of-the-art headquarters. The roadside was packed with spectators from start to finish as the snake of cars travelled up the 1.6 mile route via the local ring road and in to the historic market square where Oliver Cromwell rallied his troops during the Civil War.
Heading up the parade was the all-new RML MG-Lola LMP2 Coupe dressed in the patriotic red, white and blue livery, followed by Lola’s latest track day car B07/90 which had Jonathan Djanogly, MP for the Huntingdon constituency enjoying a passenger ride with sportscar and GT champion Calum Lockie. Other star participants included a Lola T70 Mk111B that cemented the marque’s status in world motorsport during the 1960’s and the Mark 1, the first car built by Lola driven by James Leslie, son of the late David Leslie. In the 1970’s Lola enjoyed worldwide success with its F5000 cars one of which was driven in the parade by its owner and historic race winner Frank Lyons.
At the end of the route the cars parked up in a specially constructed paddock area that had been assembled in Huntingdon’s historic market square. As the crowd eagerly awaited a glimpse of the first Lola cars to enter the paddock they were treated to a display from the Blue Vision Huntingdon Majorette team and a demonstration from the Huntingdon Olympic gymnast club, that trained Louis Smith who recently claimed a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Motorsport presenter and personality Tony Jardine hosted a number of interviews on the Town Hall balcony overlooking the packed out paddock area, with Martin Birrane and the founder of Lola cars, Eric Broadley joining racing legend John Surtees for an enthralling Q&A session. Lola has been located in Huntingdon since 1970 and continues to be an important business for the local community. In recognition of the town’s support, David Monks, Chief Executive of the District Council, presented Martin Birrane and Eric Broadley with a commemorative scroll in front of the applauding audience that had filled the market square.