Lola T400 car-by-car histories
With heavily revised aerodynamics and a rising rate suspension, the 1975 F5000 Lola T400 baffled and perplexed its customers and many went back to the T332 design. VDS persisted and Teddy Pilette won the British championship in his car.
After the T332 had dominated the 1974 season, much was expected of the high-tech new T400. Described by development driver Frank Gardner as "the most sophisticated Formula 5000 to be built so far", the T400 was a completely new design, strikingly different to its T300, T330 and T332 predecessors. The radiators were mounted in front of the rear wheels, as part of the mandatory deformable structure, so the aerodynamics could be significantly cleaner. However, the key difference was Eric Broadley's adoption of rising rate suspension, with rocker arms and inboard springs, both front and rear. This would, eventually, prove very successful but at first nobody really understood how to make it work. In the Tasman series, the cars were off the pace due to a lack of development, and Broadley conducted extensive testing at Paul Ricard in February with key European customer VDS. Although this was encouraging, the VDS T400s were very slow at the opening races of the European series. In the US, Vel's Parnelli Jones abandoned their T400s after tests at Riverside and used T332s during practice for the Pocono race in early May. The race was rained off and when the teams returned to Pocono to try again four weeks later, even Lola importer Carl Haas had found a 1974 T332 for Brian Redman. In the UK, VDS had little choice but to persevere as they had sold their 1974 Chevrons, and had one of their T400s working really well by the end of the season; four wins in the last eight races securing a second F5000 title for Teddy Pilette.
One, maybe two, of the 14 T400s were wrecked in accidents, but we can account for the recent whereabouts of twelve survivors. A 13th car was stolen in 2006 and its exact history is yet to be established. Particular thanks go to Teddy Pilette, Shayne Windelburn, Marc Rauchfuss, Marcus Pye, Richard Fried, Mike Engstrand, Dan Bowden, Chris Townsend, David Craig, Ken Shirvington, Gareth Williams, Jeremy Jackson, Norbert Vogel, Paul and Andrew Higgins, David Abbott, Peter Cousins, Ed Swart, Peter Vincent, Steve Bay, Simon Hadfield and Mark Blaze for their help getting this far. There are still gaps in several of the histories, and updates would be appreciated on the ownerships of some of the cars. Please email Allen at email@example.com if you can add anything.
Invoice date 23 Dec 1974 (sold to 'Abbey', colour 'Red'). Kevin Bartlett (Aus) for 1975 Tasman but abandoned as uncompetitive. Tasman 1976 (see 1976 Surfers Paradise program p8) … much modified and called "T400B" … driven by Lyndon Arnel Australian Internationals 1978 … for Alf Costanzo at Australian GP Sep 1978 and Rose City '10,000' Oct 1978; Australian Internationals 1979? … for Jon Davison Oct 1979 … Subsequent history unknown. Dan Bowden spoke to Kevin Bartlett about this car in 2004 and Bartlett recalled selling it to "a bloke with the last name of Campbell in Melbourne". Campbell raced it once (Bartlett thinks it was at Sandown) where he crashed it. At some point it was bought by someone in Wollongong (NSW) who to use the rear suspension on a Barry Lock-built sports car. The T400 was then bought by Ken Shirvington, whose T400 HU4 had been wrecked in 1977. Shirvington fitted the rear end from his T332 and raced in the penultimate 1982 F5000 race, at Oran Park on 21 Mar 1982, taking a creditable second place. Retained 2005.
Driven by: Kevin Bartlett, Lyndon Arnel, Alfredo Costanzo, Jon Davison, Colin Campbell and Ken Shirvington. First race: Levin (Tasman R1), 5 Jan 1975. Total of 30 recorded races.
Invoice date 23 Dec 1974 (sold to 'Abbey', colour 'Red'). Max Stewart (Aus) for 1975 Tasman but abandoned as uncompetitive. He returned to the T400 for the Gold Star season, and won the Australian GP in August 1975. He then used it for the New Zealand and Australian Internationals 1976, until crashed heavily in practice at Sandown Park in February 1976. The car had been repaired by the time Stewart was killed at Calder in March 1977, but had not been raced again.
According to the CAMS log book issued in November 1987, the surviving team car was bought from the estate in 1977 by John Roberts and David Craig of Adelaide, and sold to historian John Blanden (Adelaide, Australia) in 1979. In 1987, it was bought by George Parlby (Sydney, Australia), and remained with him until sold to Ted Thomas (Texas) in 1995. It next passed to Benton Bryan (Knoxville, TN) in 1998, and he had the car for sale in 2000, selling it to Neil Johnson (Portola Valley, CA). The following year it was sold by Bruce Trennery of Fantasy Junction to Charlie Agg (Reigate, Surrey). Then to Steve Fitzsimmons (Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria) 2003, and debuted in the Euroboss race Donington 5 Oct 2003. The movements of HU2 after 2003 are again a little unclear but it was offered at auction in 2004 or 2005, and bought after the auction by Ian Higgins (Boston, Lincolnshire) 2005. It was acquired from Higgins in 2010 by Ken Smith and Barry Miller in New Zealand, and remained with them until July 2015, the car was bought by David Wilkes (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia). Still with Wilkes in December 2016.
Driven by: Max Stewart. First race: Levin (Tasman R1), 5 Jan 1975. Total of 15 recorded races.
Invoice details unknown. Haas Racing for Brian Redman US 1975 (one race only: third place at Riverside) - Max Stewart December 1975 (see 1976 Surfers Paradise program p8): driven by Paul Bernasconi in New Zealand Internationals 1976 and in Australian Internationals 1976. Raced by Stewart at Adelaide in Feb 1976 after his usual car had fuel pressure problems. Stewart then took over HU3 after he damaged HU2 at Sandown Park a week later, and raced it for the rest of 1976.
Raced by Max Stewart Australian Internationals 1977 and destroyed in the accident at Calder 19 Mar 1977 that took his life.
Driven by: Brian Redman, Paul Bernasconi, Max Stewart and David Purley. First race: Riverside (US R9), 26 Oct 1975. Total of 15 recorded races.
Invoice date 16 Jan 1975 (sold to 'VDS', colour 'Red'). VDS for Peter Gethin UK 1975 - Ken Shirvington (Aus) Australian Internationals 1976; Australian Internationals 1977; Australian Gold Star 1977: crashed badly at Calder 16 Oct 1977.
Rebuilt on a new Polley T332 [EP3] chassis for 1978 Internationals (appeared at Oran Park only where Shirvington retired due to driver fatigue). Then crashed at the Mount Panorama round of the NSW Hill Climb Championship in March 1978 when Shirvington lost control in the wet and ran off the track, hitting a tree. The tub was destroyed and the driver suffered compound leg fractures. With two wrecked tubs, Shirvington then considered having a tub built locally to use the Lola's running gear. According to an unpublished copy of Cars and Drivers No 4, provided by Barry Lake, it was planned that this tub would be wider than the Lola with deformable structures and heavier rollover bars. In the end, Shirvington bought the ex-Bartlett T400 HU1, which had earlier lost its rear suspension in the creation of a sports car, and fitted the rear end from the wrecked T400/T332. Shirvington has retained the T400 HU4 tub and, in 2005, was having it rebuilt.
Driven by: Peter Gethin and Ken Shirvington. First race: Brands Hatch (UK R1), 15 Mar 1975. Total of 22 recorded races.
Invoice date 17 Feb 1975 (sold to 'R. Oaten', colour 'Black'). Richard Oaten Racing for Ian Ashley UK 1975 but abandoned as uncompetitive and replaced by T330. Later crashed in testing. At the end of 1975, the car was returned to Lola to be updated to the VDS team's latest specification and Autosport reported that it was sold to "little known American racer Alan Carlsberg". Presumably an Autosport journalist had misheard the name of Formula Atlantic driver Allen Karlberg (Seattle, WA).
The car was next seen when advertised by Jack Smiley (Dallas, TX) in Victory Lane Magazine April 1989 where it was described as "very possible last one in existence in original spec", indicating that it had not been used in Can-Am. In the early 1990s, historic racer Reg Howell (Corona Del Mar, CA) had a T400 which his crew told Steve Bay was "ex-Jack Smiley". It was next seen, advertised as HU5, with Car Amigo (Dallas, TX) in 2002. It would appear that it was being advertised during the ownership of Juan Gonzales (Dallas, TX), who raced a T400 in vintage events during 1996, and who later sold HU5 to Hamish Somerville (Canada) in 2008. Used by Somerville in US historic racing 2010. Entered by Somerville at the NZ Festival of Motor Racing in December 2011 and rumoured to have been sold after the event to Kenny Smith. From Smith to Lance Robinson (Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire) 2012. Lance had the car at Silverstone in May 2016.
Driven by: Ian Ashley. First race: Brands Hatch (UK R3), 31 Mar 1975. Total of 2 recorded races.
Invoice date 27 Mar 1975 (sold to 'Haas/VPJ', colour 'White'). Vel's Parnelli Jones. According to "Jonesy" Morris, Al Unser's chief mechanic in the VPJ team, HU6 was Unser's car. Both drivers preferred to use their 1974 T332s, and this car was onlu raced by Unser at Mosport Park In June 1975. One of these T400s was then said to have been "kitted" to T332 specification for R6 Road Atlanta but it is unlikely that either T400 was called upon to contribute many parts. Morris adds that HU6 was stripped for parts in the winter of 1975-76.
Both cars sold by VPJ to Barry Blackmore (date unknown) and one or both raced in historics. One T400 advertised by Blackmore "complete restored" Mar 1990. Presumably the car raced at HSR Mid-Ohio Aug 1993 and at HSR Mid-Ohio July 1994. HU6 was later reported to have been sold to Yugoslavia … Peter Kormann (Germany) 1998 and driven by Brian Herta at the opening of the Lausitzring. Retained by Kormann until sold to Paul Higgins (New Zealand) August 2010. Raced by Andrew Higgins in the 2013/14 Formula 5000 Australia Cup Series and in the 2014/15 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series. Sold to Ross Olney (Los Angeles, CA) in November 2015 and shipped back to the US. Raced in west coast vintage events in 2016.
Invoice date 27 Mar 1975 (sold to 'Haas', colour 'White'). Vel's Parnelli Jones. According to "Jonesy" Morris, Al Unser's chief mechanic in the VPJ team, HU6 was Mario Andretti's car, but was only used for testing. One of these T400s was then said to have been "kitted" to T332 specification for R6 Road Atlanta but it is unlikely that either T400 was called upon to contribute many parts.
Both cars sold by VPJ to Barry Blackmore (date unknown) and one or both raced in historics. One T400 advertised by Blackmore "complete restored" Mar 1990. HU7 sold to John Delane (1990 or early 1991): raced in historics from March 1991 or maybe earlier to about 1998. Sold to Steve Young: tested only once at Willow Springs. To Marc Rauchfuss (Simi Valley, CA) autumn 2001. Sold to George Stevens (Seattle, WA) late 2003. A 'HU7' bought by Frank Lyons (Felsted, Essex) in the Seattle area Dec 2006 and being shipped back to England for the 2007 season. Raced by Michael Lyons in the Formula 5000 Tasman Cup Revival at the Australian GP meeting 28 Mar 2009. Raced by Judy Lyons in UK historic races in 2010. Raced by Michael Lyons at Hampton Downs Jan 2012 and at the Silverstone Classic July 2013.
Invoice date 24 Mar 1975 (sold to 'McKechnie', colour 'White'). McKechnie Racing Org (but probably owned by sponsor Durex) UK 1975: raced by Richard Scott (from R2 Oulton Park) and Bob Evans (two races only, from R15 Mallory Park) - Len Gibbs for Keith Holland UK 1976 and R1 1977 (then replaced by a new T332C). Sold to Gerry Amato ... Allan Kayes G8 1977. Then unknown until 'found in a garage in Cambridge' by Mike Connor: raced in a libre at Castle Combe Apr 1980 ... to Mick Hill 1982 and converted to "BMW M1" with 7.4-litre Chevrolet V8 for "GT" racing: raced in Donington GT series 1983 (shared between Hill and Kevin Riley). Also raced in Thundersports, co-driven by Riley 1983 (2 races, including the European GP support race at Brands Hatch on 25 Sep 1983) and 1984 (4 races) … advertised by Straight Six (Tony Hildebrand) 1986 … David Sheppard: raced in Thundersports, co-driven by Gary Dobbin, 1989 (4 races).
Next seen when acquired by Ian Higgins (Boston, Lincolnshire) about 1990 and taken apart to recreate the Lola T400. Advertised as a rolling chassis from a Newark, Nottinghamshire number in September 1993. To Shayne Windelburn (Auckland, New Zealand) some time in the early 1990s. Raced at Historic Sandown in 2000, and at the TACCOC Autumn Classic 12 May 2002. Raced by Windelburn regularly in the F5000 Tasman Revival from its start in November 2003, when he won the feature race at the opening round, through almost every season to the 2017/18 season. Later to John Windelburn, who still had it in February 2019.
Driven by: Richard Scott, Bob Evans, Keith Holland, Allan Kayes, Mick Hill and Kevin Riley. First race: Oulton Park (UK R2), 28 Mar 1975. Total of 35 recorded races.
Invoice date 27 Mar 1975 (sold to 'Formula', colour 'Blue'). Eppie Wietzes US 1975 (nine races; two third places) and 1976 (only one race). Retained until 1986 but used as show car by Canadian Tyre in mid-1980's. Sold to Horst Kroll for 1986 season and converted to Frissbee specification for Can-Am as "Frissbee KR4" for Can-Am 1986: driven by Bill Adam (Mosport 1 Jun 1986: 2nd) and 17-year-old future CART star Paul Tracy (Mosport 14 Sep 1986: 1st). Used again in CAT 1987: driven by Jacques Villeneuve Snr (Sainair: 2nd) and Mike Engstrand (Phoenix: 5th). In Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame 2001 and retained by Kroll until sold to Glenn Richards (Auckland, New Zealand) in mid-2010. Raced by Reg Cook in the 2010/11 F5000 Tasman Revival series, and then by Richards in the series every season from 2013/14 to 2017/18.
Driven by: Eppie Wietzes, Bill Adam, Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve Sr and Mike Engstrand. First race: Pocono Int. Raceway (road course) (US R1), 1 Jun 1975. Total of 14 recorded races.
Invoice date 27 Mar 1975 (sold to 'Haas/Woodner', colour 'Black'). Interscope US 1975: driven by Jon Woodner (two races only), Danny Ongais (four races), then replaced by T332. In early October, Woodner's sponsor Ted Field made his Formula A debut in the T400 in a SCCA Regional at Willow Springs. He led the race from the start but Dick Hayes in a BDA-engined Chevron B27 kept close to him until lap 10, when they came up to lap Tom Shanley's Formula C Brabham. Field collided with the Brabham and the Lola was "totalled", according to the Finish Line report. Mark Blaze, who was crew chief for Danny Ongais that year and was given the log book from this car by team manager Carroll Smith when he left the team at the end of 1975, confirmed that the car was written off. Carroll Smith also told Shayne Windelburn that Field wrote the car off. However, the Larry Clain car was described as "ex-Ongais", so maybe this car survived.
Driven by: Jon Woodner, Danny Ongais, Ted Field and Eddy O'Brien. First race: Pocono Int. Raceway (road course) (US R1), 1 Jun 1975. Total of 7 recorded races.
Invoice date 16 Jan 1975 (sold to 'VDS', colour 'Red'). VDS for Teddy Pilette UK 1975. Sold to Pilette as a show car December 1976. Presumably the T400 rolling chassis advertised by Pilette (Brussels, Belgium) in Autosport in Mar 1977. Also matches one of Ted Walker's photographs of a T400 on display in Europe in 1976. Retained by Teddy Pilette until sold to his brother Michel Pilette, and kept at his house in Pepingen, Belgium for a few years until moved to the Stavelot Museum (near Spa, Belgium). Michel Pilette confirmed that he still owned the car in August 2016. Still in the museum in May 2018.
Driven by: Teddy Pilette. First race: Brands Hatch (UK R1), 15 Mar 1975. Total of 13 recorded races.
Invoice date 21 Apr 1975 (sold to 'Haas', colour 'White'). John Morton US 1975 (three races: debut R5 Mid Ohio). Then "kitted" as T332 for R8 Laguna Seca which involved stripping many of the components to build up a Lola T332 'kit'.
The remains of the T400, which was everything except engine, gearbox, wheels, instruments, brakes and steering rack, was sold to Ed Swart in June 1991. Swart started the restoration in 1993 and it took three years to complete the car, racing it for the first time at Road America in July 1996. He raced it 20 times over the next six seasons, culminating in a trip to the UK in August 2002 for races at Brands Hatch and Silverstone. The car was left car in England with Vin Malkie and sold to Cliff Jowsey (UK) the following year. Raced by Ed Jowsey in historics 2004 until damaged by a fire at Snetterton in mid-summer; back up and running by October 2004. Sold to Mark Dwyer (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire) Nov 2006. Raced by Dwyer in HSCC Derek Bell Trophy events in 2008, in the 2008/09 New Zealand Tasman Revival series (winning the Australian GP support race 28 Mar 2009) and in historic events in the UK 2009 and 2010. For the 2009/10 Tasman Revival, Dwyer had a Lola T332 HU52 but he returned to the T400 for the 2010/11 series and won the Australian GP support race. Raced in HSCC racing in 2011 then travelled back to New Zealand for the 2011/12 Tasman Revival. Raced by Dwyer at the Silverstone Classic July 2012 then again to New Zealand in January 2013 for the race at Hampton Downs. Raced by Mark's son Lee Dwyer at the Silverstone Classic July 2013. Present at Thruxton April 2014. Raced by Mark Dwyer at the American SpeedFest at Brands Hatch in June 2015.
Driven by: John Morton. First race: Mid-Ohio (US R5), 10 Aug 1975. Total of 2 recorded races.
Invoice date 16 Jan 1975 (sold to 'VDS', colour 'Red'). VDS for Teddy Pilette UK late 1975. Teddy says this was "a newer chassis, stiffer and a little quicker" to assist his bid for the title. So this would be the "spare T400" driven by Pilette at Snetterton in early October, and again at Mallory Park a week later, winning both races. Sold by VDS to Tony Gillet (Gembloux, Belgium): Belgian hill climbs 1977 (first known outing Condroz 27 Mar 1977 - won; runner up to Marcel Tarres in championship); Belgian hill climbs 1978 (again runner up to Marcel Tarres in championship). Gillet won 10 hill climbs in the T400, his best win probably coming at Troz Morets in 1978, when he set a course record in damp conditions. Sold to Yvon Grenson (Belgium): Belgian hillclimbs 1979 and 1980. Later sold to unknown French owner but the car returned to Gillet's ownership at some later point. Gillet's PA, Veronique Vervinckt, has confirmed that this car is chassis HU14. Retained 2004.
Driven by: Teddy Pilette and Tony Gillet. First race: Snetterton (UK R14), 5 Oct 1975. Total of 4 recorded races.
Invoice date 24 Apr 1975 (sold to 'Haas', colour 'White'). Sold by Haas to John Leffler Jan 1976 (see 1976 Surfers Paradise program p8) ... John Wright Feb 1979?, Oct 1979, Australian Internationals 1980, Gold Star 1980, Gold Star 1981, Arco Graphic series 1981/82. Bought from Wright in 1983 by Michael Lance, who had been diagnosed with cancer and wanted to drive a F5000 car. He drove it in a private day at Oran Park in 1984, a few days before he died. The car remained with Lance's parents in Sydney until the late 1990s, when it was sold to Mike Glynn. Raced by Glynn in historic events at Winton over thenext few years, and at Eastern Creek in Sydney around 2003. After a period when the car was not seen, Glynn raced it in the NZ Festival of Motor Racing at Hampton Downs in January 2011, and in the Tasman F5000 Revival race at the Australian Grand Prix meeting in March 2011. Raced by Glynn in the 2012 Australian GP support race.
Driven by: John Leffler and John Wright. First race: Oran Park (R1), 1 Feb 1976. Total of 36 recorded races.
The mystery cars
There are still two unresolved puzzles: exactly which of Vel's Parnelli's two T400s was raced at Mosport in 1975, and what was the car that Larry Clain owned for more than 20 years.
'the Vel's Parnelli Jones car'
Vel's Parnelli Jones bought two Lola T400s for 1975 but the only time either car was used was when Al Unser drove on at Mosport Park in June 1975. It is not known which car was used. Both cars were later sold to Barry Blackmore and their histories continue as shown above.
Driven by: Al Unser. First race: Mosport Park (US R2), 15 Jun 1975. Only one recorded race.
'the Larry Clain car'
Larry Clain (Tulsa, OK) ran a Frissbee-Lola T400 in SCCA A Sports Racing and in Can-Am in 1984. The car was entered at the Dallas Can-Am race in July, and at the Riverside Can-Am in October, but did not appear at either. Clain was then listed as a non-qualifier at the Runoffs at Road Atlanta two weeks later.
Clain is reported to have had a significant car collection that included two Baldwin-Motion GT Corvettes, a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS, and a 1966 or 1967 Chevrolet Nova, as well as the T400. Clain died in May 2006, and his collection was then said to include the Lola T400, still wearing Frissbee bodywork. It was reported to be ex-Ongais, indicating that it was T400 HU10. Shortly after his death, his workshop was broken into and many of his cars stolen. In July 2016, it was reported that none of the cars had been recovered.
Driven by: Larry Clain. First appearance: Road Atlanta, 20 Oct 1984.
To muddy the VDS picture a little, Richard Fried, who worked for VDS from 1982 to 1984, recalls a T400 being in storage and heard that it had been bought by VDS Indy mechanic Carl Dean (Chicago, IL) when the team folded at the end of 1984. Shayne Windelburn thinks this is more likely to be one of the team's T333s, used in F5000 spec by Warwick Brown in 1978 and 1979.
In 1985, John Bladen drove his newly-restored Lola T400 at the Australian Grand Prix meeting but hit the concrete wall at the chicane. This is believed to have been HU2.
Shayne Windelburn remembers hearing of a surviving T400 in England somewhere.
A note on chassis number identification
Chassis numbers are mainly based on Lola invoice records. The 1976 Surfers Paradise race program was helpful in identifying the four Australian cars (HU1, HU2, HU3 and HU15), as was a race report in Autoweek 5 Mar 1977 p13. As OldRacingCars.com has not yet finished compiling race results for all races in Australia after 1975, the race results quoted here are partly based on the Formula 1 Register Fact Book: Formula 5000 1972-1981.
These histories last updated on .