5 Forgotten Cars You’ll Only See at Historic Races
The lovely weirdness you'll find at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend.
For every successful manufacturer born with racing fuel in its veins, for every Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren or Bentley, there are failures. Countless failures. Tiny design and engineering firms with wild ideas that never landed and successful campaigners that could never make that difficult transition into off-track relevance. The very best of those efforts still pound the track today, often decades after their makers have closed their doors forever.
Chevron — Unfamiliar badges are nothing unusual at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Here's one you should remember. Chevron, a little manufacturer from Lancaster, England, managed to build a succession of some of the prettiest little race cars you'll see on the track. Chevron made sports racers and open-wheel cars with equal relish until the founder of the company perished in a hang gliding accident. While the concern has continued to function, it's never achieved the prominence it deserved. This example, a 1967 GT owned by Mike Reischl, is powered by the same 2.0-liter mill found under the hood of the BMW 2002.
Shadow — In the early 1970's, American-built Shadow CanAm cars were brutally quick and lethally cool. They descended upon CanAm spoiling for a fight with McLaren and Porsche. Unfortunately, the two factory efforts left the series and CanAm folded soon thereafter. Shadow then decided to contest F1, which they did with some success through 1980. While the F1 cars were neat, and Shadow's driver lineup was a who's who of 1970's racing talent, the single-seat racers were never quite as cool as the sinister sports cars that brought Shadow into this world.
National — Like just about any pre-war car, the bright blue National racers taking to the track in Monterey look like a handful to drive. Charles Test, driver of the #19 car, found out just how challenging the old racers can be when the front right spindle sheared through and sent his National on an exhilarating trip into the turn 11 gravel trap. Nationals saw a lot of pre-war racing success, even winning the Indy 500 in but the company folded in 1912, but the company folded just a decade later.
Elva — Just another English manufacturer of pretty and successful race cars that never made the jump to sales success, Elva made it further than many others. They sold around 400 of their handsome Courier roadster, in addition to their open wheel cars, and sports racers like this BMW-powered 1964 Mk 7S.
TVR — Gamers of a certain generation will know TVR from the obscene Cerbera Speed 12 featured in Gran Turismo. A pit crawl around Mazda Raceway though, will reveal a surprising number of the handsome little ancestors, with much more modest aspirations than their 1000+ horsepower spawn. This lovely 1969 Vixen, powered by a 1600cc Ford Crossflow, is perhaps an example of the firm at their best. TVR has made road going cars for decades but has never been able to achieve anything more than limited production.