Lola stage Le Mans tribute ..

to racing driver David Leslie

As  part  of  Lola  Cars  50th  anniversary  activities  at  the  2008  Le  Mans  24  Hours,  the  Huntingdon-based marque  will  be  staging  a  fitting  tribute  to  the  late  sports  car  driver  David  Leslie,  who  tragically  died  in  a plane accident this year that also took the lives of 4 other people. On Friday 13 June, David’s son Graham will drive his father’s Mark 1 Lola to head up the vast array of vintage and classic cars taking part in this year’s Grande Parade des Pilotes, the official parade of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Lola Cars 50th anniversary will be a central theme at this year’s Grande Parade des Pilotes that is organised by  Classic  Automotive,  the  voluntary  organisation  that  has  staged  the  event  for  the  past  fourteen  years. Tens of thousands of fans will make their annual pilgrimage to watch the official parade of fantastic open- top historic cars taking the endurance racing drivers through the town of Le Mans. The event will provide a suitable setting for the sport to honour David Leslie, whose successful career saw him compete and more recently broadcast from Le Mans for many years. There  are  strong  links  between  Lola  and  the  Leslie  family. 

David  Leslie’s  wife  Jane  is  the  daughter  of Graham Broadley, who in 1958 helped his cousin Eric Broadley set up Lola cars.  Jane will be attending the parade as an honorary guest of Lola to support her son as he leads the procession of cars in the Lola Mk 1, which his father raced at last year’s Silverstone Classic and Goodwood Rival. The MK 1 forms a symbolic part of Lola’s illustrious history in motorsport. It was the first car built by Lola, it was the first ever sports car of any size to lap the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in under one minute and, in 1960, the MK 1 took Lola to the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time.

Jane  Leslie  said,  “David  loved  Le  Mans  for  the  sheer  challenge  it  presented  whether  he  was driving  or broadcasting.  He  would  be  so  proud  to  see  his Lola  Mk1 driven  by  his  son  at  the  official  parade  in  the centre of Le Mans." The second car in the parade will be the Lola T70 MkIIIB that Masten Gregory and Jo Bonnier raced at Le Mans in 1969. Whilst the Mk 1 provided Lola with its first taste Le Mans 24 Hours action, the sleek design of the  T70  MKIIIB  helped  cement  the  marque’s  status  in  world  motorsport. 

The  owner  of  this  car,  Esmond Smith will drive in the parade with his son Andrew, who won the recent World Sportscar Master rounds at Brands Hatch. In 2008, Lola continues to gain international recognition as it unleashes the first-ever customer LMP Coupe to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, putting everything in place to deliver another world-beating sports car.

In total  Lola  has  seven  cars  participating  in  the  2008  Le  Mans  24  Hours,  comprising  three  LMP1  and  four LMP2. It is the marque’s largest entry since 1979. Martin  Birrane,  Executive  Chairman  of  Lola,  will  be  joining  French  Prime  Minister  François  Fillon,  ACO President  Jean-Claude  Plassart  and  the  Mayor  of  Le  Mans  Jean-Claude  Boulard,  to  officially  open  the ceremony. Birrane will be on-hand to present a trophy to the fastest LMP1 and LMP2 Lola car to qualify for this year’s race.

Martin Birrane commented, “The parade has become one of the highlights of the Le Mans 24 Hours and it will be a great honour that Lola’s 50th anniversary will be credited at such a high profile occasion. Whilst the event  will  be  a  wonderful  celebration  of  Lola’s  50  years  in  motorsport,  we  also  felt  it  was  an  important opportunity  for  the  company  to  pay  tribute  to  David  Leslie. 

As  well  as  owning  his  own  Lola,  David was a great ambassador and avid supporter of motorsport in every sphere. Everyone associated with Lola and the motorsport community will always hold a strong affection for him and miss him dearly.” Lola will be aiming for a record fifth consecutive LMP2 class victory and a top finish in the LMP1 category in its 50th anniversary year.

With the RML AD Group MG Lola taking the class win in 2005 and 2006, it was an ideal car to showcase Lola’s winning technology and it is the leading image for this year’s official poster of the Grande Parade des Pilotes. The poster features a photograph of the car taken during Round 2 of the 2008  Le  Mans  Series  at  Monza,  Italy,  with  the  team’s  three  drivers;  Mike  Newton,  Andy  Wallace  and Thomas Erdos. RML are the reigning Le Mans Series LMP2 champions. This year’s Grande Parade des Pilotes will take place on Friday 13 June, starting at 18.00 hrs (local time).