BRAZILIAN racing driver Tommy Erdos got the surprise of his life as strolled past the University of Bolton’s stand at the Autosport racing car show in Birmingham.
His eye was caught by the gleaming two seater endurance Lola sports car that took pride of place on the stand.
Normally it resides in the university’s Centre for Advanced Performance Engineering (CAPE) on the Bolton campus, where students work on it as part of their degree course.
The car has a famous history and won its class in the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race for two successive years in 2005 and 2006.
Tommy recognised it right away because he was one of the drivers who piloted it to both its victories at Le Mans.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen the car since those great triumphs seven years ago and yet there it was right in front of me.
"To say I was shocked is an understatement. Suddenly all the wonderful memories came flooding back."
Bolton’s Vice Chancellor, Professor George Holmes, who was on the stand leading the university’s drive to attract more students to CAPE, invited Tommy to get behind the wheel once more.
Tommy said: “This is such a wonderful moment. Who would have thought that coming to this show I would have been reunited with one of the best cars I’ve ever driven? It’s something I’ll never forget.”
He drove the car to victory with owner Mike Newton and Warren Hughes in 2005, and with Mike and Andy Wallace in 2006.
200mph CAR BECAME TEACHING TOOL AT UNIVERSITY
- The MG Lola EX 265 (AER) came first in its LMP 2 class at the 24- hour endurance race, two years running in 2005 and 2006.
- The car started life with an MG engine, but later MG withdrew from the Le Mans series and AER took over the rights to the 550hp engine —a two litre turbo petrol. The car has a six-speed paddle sequential gearbox and is capable of more than 200mph.
- Now owned by ex-racing driver Barry Gates, the Lola is operated and prepared by RLR M Sport, of Bolton, which has teamed up with the university to provide students with a high performance automotive engineering education focused on the “business of speed” at CAPE.
- In 2010 it competed in the Le Mans series six-hour endurance races at the Hungaro Ring and later at Silverstone. The driver was Rob Garofall, from Bedfordshire.