Lola to relaunch under new ownership, targets racing return

The British Lola marque is being relaunched under new ownership and could be back on the grid inside two years.

Lola to relaunch under new ownership, targets racing return

The iconic Lola name, together with the Lola Technical Centre windtunnel, has been bought by US-based Briton Till Bechtolsheimer with the aim of re-establishing the brand as a major player in the motorsport industry.

Bechtolsheimer, who races in the GT Daytona class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, is reviving Lola 10 years after the previous iteration of the company, Lola Cars International, went into administration in 2012.

Lola had a continuous history from 1958 until 2012 during which time it built cars for just about every formula of motor racing, winning the Indy 500 three times and taking a total of 181 CART/Champ Car victories.

Forty-year-old Bechtolsheimer, who runs an investment company in New York focused on renewable energy, outlined a hope for the first new car developed by the revived organisation to be on track in 2024.

“With one of the key projects we are focussed on right now, the target would be to have a car on track from 2024,” Bechtolsheimer told Autosport.

“I think 2025 might be a little bit more realistic, but there are certain opportunities that could see a Lola back on track even earlier.”

Bechtolsheimer said he is not ready to be more specific on the nature of the projects Lola is working on, but admitted that “conversations in both sportscar and single-seater paddocks are ongoing”.

He explained that under his stewardship Lola would follow the path set by marque founder Eric Broadley and Martin Birrane, who rescued the company in 1997, by building cars under its own name and working with major manufacturers.

Read Also:
Till Bechtolsheimer, Lola Cars

Till Bechtolsheimer, Lola Cars

Photo by: Lola

“I want to bring Lola back as a capable force providing engineering solutions to customers, whether that is a customer buying a compete package that they go and run at a race track, providing a finished product to an OEM or a small piece of the puzzle to a third party,” he explained.

“All that is in keeping with what Lola has always done and should continue to do.”

Bechtolsheimer admitted to a keen interest in taking Lola back to the Le Mans 24 Hours, in which it participated as a supplier of off-the-shelf machinery such as arguably its most famous car, the T70 in both spyder and coupe form, as well as developing cars for manufacturers such as Ford and Nissan.

He conceded that there will be limited opportunities for Lola to have an involvement in a Le Mans Hypercar or LMDh project, but expressed a hope that the organisation could make a bid for one of the licences to build LMP2 prototypes after the next rules cycle covering 2025 to 2029.

“I don’t think it is a bad thing for Lola to get involved with a more narrow scope in one of these larger-scale projects and to focus on some of the lower-tier areas of sportscar racing to build up our capabilities so that when chassis tenders reopen five years from now we will be in a place to make a credible bid,” he explained.

Bechtolsheimer has purchased the Lola brand and intellectual property rights to more than 400 designs, in addition to the Lola Technical Centre incorporating the windtunnel and a seven-post rig, from the family of Birrane, who died aged 82 in 2018.

The new organisation will trade as Lola Cars Ltd, the original name of the company before it hit financial problems in the wake of its short-lived 1997 Formula 1 entry.

The rights to the Lola name and the IP of the designs were retained by the Birrane family when the company went into administration in May 2012.

Blundell took famous Le Mans pole in 1990 with Lola-built Nissan

Blundell took famous Le Mans pole in 1990 with Lola-built Nissan

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Amanda Birrane, chairman of the Birrane family property company Peer Group said: “My family is very pleased that the Lola brand is in the ownership of a businessman and racer who will write the next chapter for this long- established British motor racing icon.

“My father would be delighted to see Lola back in competitive motorsport and especially back at Le Mans.”

Michael Wilson has been recruited to head-up Lola Cars: he joins from Advance Engine Research (AER) and previously worked for Mercedes in the DTM and at its Formula 1 engine facility in the UK.

Bechtolsheimer explained that one his first tasks will be to upgrade the windtunnel at the technology centre, which has continued to trade since 2012.

shares
comments
Is this the most road-relevant touring car series around?
Previous article

Is this the most road-relevant touring car series around?

Next article

The full story of Lola - so far

The full story of Lola - so far
Porsche’s hopeful Le Mans future meets its illustrious past Plus

Porsche’s hopeful Le Mans future meets its illustrious past

Rising sportscar star Adam Smalley had to pinch himself when offered the chance to drive the car that won the world’s most famous enduro in 1987

Historics
Sep 6, 2022
Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return Plus

Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return

The iconic Lola name is being relaunched after it was taken over by new ownership. Part of that reboot is a planned return to racing, though the exact details of this are still to be finalised - though its new owner does have a desire to bring the brand back to the Le Mans 24 Hours. But romanticism doesn't appear to be the driving force behind this renewed project...

General
Jul 14, 2022
Rating the best drivers of the century so far Plus

Rating the best drivers of the century so far

Autosport's Top 50 feature has been a staple of the magazine for the past two decades since its first appearance in 2002. Here are the drivers that have featured most prevalently during that time

General
Jan 7, 2022
The best motorsport moments of 2021 Plus

The best motorsport moments of 2021

Motorsport produced one of its greatest years of all-time in 2021 despite a backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 challenges and an ever-changing racing landscape. Through the non-stop action Autosport has collected the finest moments from the past 12 months to highlight the incredible drama and joy motorsport generates

General
Dec 31, 2021
The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers Plus

The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers

Making it in motorsport can be tough, and sometimes drivers move elsewhere before their best chance arrives. Here are some of those who made it back

General
Dec 26, 2021
The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes Plus

The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes

It’s rarely mentioned when it comes to assessing the best national contests, but the Brazilian Stock Car series that reaches its climax this weekend has an ever-growing appeal. Its expanding roster of ex-Formula 1 names has helped to draw in new fans, but it's the closeness of competition that keeps them watching

General
Dec 10, 2021
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

General
May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

General
Apr 21, 2021