Lotus – the name is a household word for anyone with an interest in motor racing or sporty automobiles. The brand, founded by the legendary Colin Chapman, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, an occasion appropriately honoured at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix: an exhibition at the marquee of the Motor Klassik magazine showcases a collection of Lotus models some of which made history. In attendance as guest of honour: Clive Chapman, the son of the ingenious constructor, team principal and Formula One revolutionary. In an interview on Saturday, he not only shared family and racing anecdotes with the audience but talked about his own involvement with the marque as well: today, he runs Classic Team Lotus. “I am pleased about the superb line-up of cars here at the Nürburgring,” said the younger Chapman. “It is great that Lotus is so widely represented here.”
The highlight of the showcased vehicles is a Lotus 49B from the Lotus works collection. The Formula One racing car was fielded in the sport’s top category from 1968 to 1970. Whilst the long period of racing it is amazing enough, the single seater was also consistently competitive: in its maiden season, subsequent World Champion Graham Hill won two Grand Prix events in the car – including the prestigious race in Monaco. At the Nürburgring, he saw the chequered flag as the runner-up. In 1969, Hill repeated his Monaco triumph in this car – after the 49B had been fielded in the Tasman Series with Jochen Rindt at the wheel at the beginning of the season, so this Lotus with chassis No. R5 truly embodies a piece of motorsport history. The Lotus MK 8 shown at the Nürburgring went down in automotive history as well. The vehicle from 1954 was the first racing car designed by Colin Chapman with aerodynamically sculpted bodywork and a true space frame. Another, later Formula One racing car catches the eyes of visitors as well: the 1987 Lotus 99T clinched the team’s last Formula One victory, achieved by Ayrton Senna in the United States Grand Prix. Naturally, the road-going models of the British brand are included in the exhibition as well. A Lotus Elite Type 14 (1957 – 1963) as a classic representative and its modern successors in the form of a GT410 Sport and a Lotus Exige Cup430 are displayed.
Chapman impressed by AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix
Obviously, the visit of Chapman’s son Clive was a very special moment. He runs Classic Team Lotus and is an expert in the company’s history not least by virtue of birth. Visibly impressed by the activities at the ‘Ring’, he said: “I used to regularly visit the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix, but was tied up with business in the most recent four years. And I must say: the event has grown quite a bit during this time. This has really impressed me.” Chapman was also pleased to see Lotus models repeatedly competing in the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix races. “I did not count the number of Lotus cars racing here, but I did notice one thing: whenever a Lotus is in the field here at the Nürburgring it can be found far in front.”
Where real racers drive real races...
Chapman generally keeps close track of the classics scene due to his professional activities. “The field of historic vehicles and races has been booming in recent years,” he says. “Not only because a number of industry partners have additionally come into play, but also because many people invest in historic motorsport today. Whilst nobody gets rich this way, it is simply the way in which these people are committed to their passion. That is very amiable. The AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix is one of the events with the greatest tradition in this area and benefits from this.” So it was not a coincidence that Lotus celebrates the marque’s 70th anniversary here at the Nürburgring. “We deliberately chose to do so,” says Clive Chapman. “The AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix is simply the event you have to be at. Obviously, there are other high-class historic motorsport events – such as Le Mans for sportscars or the historic Monaco GP where other areas are emphasised. But the event here at the Nürburgring compares a little with the Silverstone Classic in the UK. It is where real racers drive real races. And when these two aspects come together you have a great motorsport party.”