“Our spare tyres didn’t make it here,” says owner Julian Mann, “but we were happy to learn that we did ship it on wet tyres. Hopefully, the spares will come tomorrow afternoon, but it’s a handful in the dry anyway, and even more so in the wet.” Any why not? With around 900bhp in a car weighing about 1,000kg, it’s always going to be lively. “It’s very fast and very fun,” Julian adds.
NASCAR driver Rick Knoop and Julian have been developing the car since 2001. The diveplanes and rear wing can generate up to 725kg of downforce and it now has inboard front suspension. Somewhere in there, though, are still the remains of the original 1958 Lister Jaguar chassis. Out has gone the Jaguar engine, though, and in its place is a small block Chevrolet V8. Big 18in wheels and a carbonfibre body complete the modernisation.
This weekend’s Festival of Speed is the car’s first visit to the UK, and Julian is loving it. We caught up with him early on the Thursday morning “It’s an unbelievable spectacle and the logistics are staggering; it’s like five Woodstocks rolled into one. It’s fabulous.”
Woodstock, but with internal combustion providing the soundtrack. The Knoop-Mann special is a long way from the Lister racers of the 1950s, but you can’t deny its visual impact. Let’s see how it performs on the hill, assuming it’s on the right tyres.
Photography by Tom Shaxson