The Ford Fiesta has cemented its reputation as the UK’s favourite car, taking the No 1 spot for the 10th consecutive year. However, final year figures for 2018 released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that total registrations were down 6.8% to 2.37 million cars, reflecting 12 months of turbulence. Sales of …
Brabham Automotive has confirmed that they will return to international sports car racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Adelaide-based automotive manufacturer, which last year launched the record-breaking BT62 track car, is announcing its return to Le Mans. It has committed to a factory racing team and a multi-year motorsport program with development work already under way. The team’s target is the 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship season in 2021/22, where it intends to enter the GTE class.
Taking the road back to Le Mans has always been a desire of Brabham Automotive but can today be confirmed for the first time. The entry will be run and be funded in-house by Brabham Automotive and commercial partners and sponsors. It will be directly linked to the Brabham BT62 Driver Development Program, making early owners of the modern Brabham track car part of the test team for Le Mans and providing top level Pro-Am racing opportunities to owners.
An extensive testing schedule aimed at developing the BT62 for high-performance endurance racing has been underway for a number of months. Brabham Automotive managing director, lead test driver and 2009 Le Mans winner David Brabham is leading it, “Returning the Brabham name to Le Mans is something I have been working on for years, so it’s fantastic to make this announcement today. Brabham Automotive only launched its first car, the BT62, in May 2018 so we have a long road to travel to earn the right to return to compete at Le Mans. That work starts now with a long-term racing commitment. We look forward to developing the BT62 and future products while building a world-class competitive race team around the leading engineering and manufacturing talent we have in the business.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), promoters of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, commented, “At Le Mans, the legendary Brabham name instantly conjures up memories of an outstanding family success story. It all began in July 1967 at the only French Grand Prix to be held at the Bugatti Circuit, when three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham took the honors in a car sporting the Brabham name. Sir Jack’s sons, Geoff and David, perpetuated the family tradition by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1993 and 2009 respectively, both with Peugeot. For the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the return of the Brabham name to endurance racing is therefore much more than symbolic. It demonstrates remarkable loyalty and an extraordinary competitive spirit.”
More details on the Brabham Automotive sports car program, personnel and the GTE vehicle that will eventually be homologated will be released, pending final confirmation of regulations and entries. The brand can confirm it will be an original Brabham, based on developing the BT62 chassis, which has already been designed and built to comply with modern FIA safety standards. A 5.4-litre naturally aspirated engine powers the Brabham BT62. Brabham Automotive also intends to compete in lower level series and provide customer-racing opportunities as it takes the road back to Le Mans, with more information to be made available in due course.
Commenting on the development, Dan Marks, Commercial Director Brabham Automotive, “Brabham Automotive is a racing brand so since inception we’ve always had competitive motorsport in mind. Our plan to go on the journey back to Le Mans is a statement of intent that Brabham Automotive is back and here to stay. In the BT62, we have already built an outstanding, unrestricted track car now with a road legal option. We will develop this car to make its mark in motor racing, along with new vehicles. Today is great news for us and will help put the Australian car industry back on the world stage.”
Only seventy BT62s will be manufactured, making Brabham Automotive’s project very exclusive in nature. For more information on its racing cars and street option, please visit http://brabhamautomotive.isebox.net/
Fans will be able to follow the journey as it’s shared on social media under the hashtag, #brabhamroadtolemans
To say that the Alpine 110 has been one of the most eagerly anticipated new cars of recent times would be an understatement. It’s not just the return of a legendary French brand after more than 20 years, but it’s proof positive that there’s plenty of mileage left in the concept of lightweight, mid-engined sports …
Ronnie Staples’ flamed classic ’32 Ford has gone through a number of engine-transmission combos over the years, but it’s all sorted out now and ready for serious cruising thanks to a modern five-speed.
Ronnie Staples is a serious carguy with a very large garage filled with Pro Touring customs and hot rods that he drives as well as shows. His collecting mantra is simple: NO TRAILER QUEENS! Some are designed and engineered to “bring back the good old days”, while others feature state-of-the-art billet fabrication. All, except those still under construction, are plated, insured and road-ready.
One of his favorite hot rods is this flamed, chopped ’32 Ford five-window coupe powered by a stroked and supercharged Flathead. Its top was chopped three inches and the roof section filled. Originally built in the late-1990s by Ohio-based hot-rodder, Greg Steiner and it was powered by a 302-inch Ford with three two-barrel carbs backed up by a C4 automatic. One of Ronnie Staples’s friends purchased it at the Goodguys event in Charlotte, NC in 1998. He swapped the 302 Ford for a vintage Joe Smith Automotive Flathead with a ¾-race Potvin camshaft and a new B&M blower topped with three Holley 94 two-barrels on an adapter. Unfortunately, he retained the C4 automatic.
In 2002 Staples saw that the coupe was for sale and road tested it. “No power to say the least,” said Staples. “Two of the carbs were blocked off, so the blower was pushing air through two butterflies, less an one-inch-diameter each. He saw the potential and made the buy. And, he has never looked back!
One of the first decisions Staples made after purchasing it was to sort out the powertrain by modifying and machining the engine and mating it to a modern five-speed. Rod and custom craftsman Mike Griffin, at his shop in Sarasota, FL, executed the Chevy S10 five-speed transmission conversion, fabricated new engine mounts and worked on a number of detail body and paint modifications. While out of the car, Griffin epoxy and K36 primed, then painted the Flathead block and finned aluminum heads Torch Red.
What appears to be STAPLES finned aluminum heads on the vintage late-1940s Flathead are actually from Offenhauser. The Offy logo was milled off and replaced with composite letters that Staples had found on eBay! Engine displacement is 255 cubic inches thanks to a four-inch-stroke Mercury crank. Bore diameter is stock 3 3/16-inch. A pair of leaned-out Stromberg Super 97 carbs from Speedway Motors tops off the billet Roots positive-displacement supercharger, custom built for Staples by an old high school buddy in Virginia, Donnie “Duck” Townsen. “Duck is an artist with his CNC machinery and can make almost anything, including cutting my name into the lower sides of the custom blower housing,” said Staples.
The unique twin-V-belt blower is over-driven 100-percent (3-inch blower pulley, 6-inch crank pulley) and makes 6 ½-pounds boost. Staples estimates a 50 horsepower increase over stock. With a 3.55 Posi rear, cruising at 75 mph in 5th gear, the stroked Flathead is running at just 2,300 rpm. Acceleration is outstanding thanks to a very low First gear.
Since there’s not a lot of room in a chopped ’32 Ford coupe, the rear package shelf was removed and the seats relocated rearward. Tracks were removed from the seats and seats were bolted directly to the floor. JR’s Upholstery, Venice, FL, is responsible for the custom “very” red interior. The ’31 Cadillac dash bezel was salvaged from junkyard back when Greg Steiner was building the hot rod.
Sammy Long, with some help from Ronnie Staples, redid the chassis and suspension for increased suspension travel, improved ride and handling. The frame was C-notched to bring the car down approximately one-inch and the old crossmember was cut out and replaced with a tubular mounting for adjustable coil-over shocks. Dropped I-beam front axle, finned brakes, chrome tube shocks, and filled grille shell look as good today as they did in the 1950s!
Ronnie Staples is a member of the Sarasota Café Racers and these photos were taken at the group’s carguy events and lunches. For more information about the Sarasota Café Racers and its satellites here and abroad, please visit http://www.sarasotacaferacers.com/home.html
The rakish, all-new 8 Series Coupe is proof positive that BMW is a brand on the move – in an upwardly mobile direction. Here’s an accomplished big GT that’s an intoxicating blend of old school and cutting edge with a dash of luxury. Powerful, plush and packed with the latest tech, it’s also blessed with …