If you're a fan of fender-clad racing cars, ones which are faster than touring cars, but not necesarrily going to keep up with a full-on single seater – then boy do we have a weekend for you! The selection of sportscar delicacies at this year's Members' Meeting may be one of the best that Goodwood has ever seen. So in order to help you pick out exactly what to see, here's a selection of our favourites to start you off.
Five incredible sportscars you have to see at 77MM
Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S
You're possibly already aware of Panoz, most likely because of the batmobile-esque Esparante that raced in the GT1 era of sportscar racing. But you might not be quite so familiar with the car that followed it: the LMP-1 Roadster-S. To the untrained eye this was just an Esparante with the roof lopped off, but in reality it was a brand new car built to comply with the switch to LMP rules that had followed the demise of GT1 on both sides of the pond. Underneath it shared the Esparante's mighty 6.0-litre V8 – an engine capable of shuddering the fillings from even the best teeth – but, unlike the Esparante, the LMP-1 was able to go toe-to-toe with the cars entered by the bigger manufactureres. At the end of the first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season Panoz found themselves champions of the LMP category, beating out BMW and its iconic V12 LMR by a mere two points. The LMP-1 was replaced by the eye-catching, but ultimately doomed, LMP07 in 2001, before being rapidly refettled and returned to action as the LMP01 Evo halfway through the season. The reworked car would take on the might of the Audi R8, beating the German to victory four times in a season-and-a-half.
Penske Zerex Special
Not many cars can be said to have been driven by the founders of two of the biggest racing teams in the world. The Penske Zerex Special certainly can. Pedaled by Roger "The Captain" Penske as he battled in the USAC Road Racing Championship, the Zerex Special was actually based on a Cooper T53 and originally built to take part in the United States Grand Prix in 1961. Penske bought the car after it crashed out of that race with just 14 laps in the book. He would campaign in Formula Libre before the car was rebuilt into the Zerex Special, with a re-engineered chassis and fender-shod body now covering a Coventry Climax straight-four engine. Penske would campaign the car in USAC races until 1964 when it was bought by the man who built the car, none-other than Bruce McLaren. McLaren would go on to replace the Cooper engine with an Oldsmobile motor to campaign it in the British and Canadian Sports Car Championships, to some success. While McLaren would sell the car on, he went on to use it as the basis of the first McLaren sportscars, helping to begin a legacy that would dominate Can-Am.
The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP may have been the car that took Peugeot's third and (so far) final Le Mans win in 2009, but it was the following 908x that would star in possibly the greatest race that La Sarthe has ever seen. The 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours was a true epic, with none of the competitors knowing that it would not only go down in legend, but also be a bookend for an era of sportscar rivalry that had become increasinly bitter as the years went by. Three of Audi's brand-new R18 TDis lined up alongside three of Peugeot's brand new 908s, having been seperated by a paltry 0.5 seconds over the official qualifying sessions during the week. The Audis were blessed with better speed through the sweepy bits and, crucially, a slight overall speed advantage, but the french team had a better straight-line speed and an efficiency advantage – vital in endurance racing. By the end of the race only one Audi remained following a series of dramatic crashes that brought on over six hours of safety car running. It crossed the line just 13 seconds clear of the first 908 (all three Peugeots made it to the end), a car featuring a star driver lineup of multiple Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, future IndyCar champ Simon Pagenaud and former F1 ace Pedro Lamy. Little did anyone know that it would end up being Peugeot's final apperance at the famous enduro, as mid-way through testing for the next season the bosses in Paris shuttered the team's preparation for the first World Endurance Championship season, and that was the end of the 908.
Jaguar XK140 'Gomm' Special
Gomm? That has to be a typo surely? Why on earth would a car be called Gomm? Well simply because a chap called Maurice Gomm set up a business making special bodywork for racing cars back in the 1950s, and was handed a single seater racing car in the 1950s on which to work his magic. The original owner was after a car to race in events organised across england and was in possession of a 1938 Grand Prix Alta Monoplace. Gomm's partner Paul Emery took the Alta, sold the engine and replaced it with a 2.6-litre Aston Martin engine from a DB2, and added a new body styled with cues from the DB2, along with some elements of the Keift or HWM 1. The car was campaigned from 1955 but little is know of its history until it was found in a barn in the 1980s. Faced with the choice of restoring the vehicle as was on the Alta chassis, or finding something else, the new owner plumped for a mix of both. The Alta chassis was returned to its original status as a single-seater, the Aston engine was sold and the incredible Gomm body was attached to the chassis of a Jaguar XK140 – and this Gomm special was born. It's now powered by a 3.4-litre engine, mounted further back than on a standard 140 and features the lap counter from a C-Type. You can see it racing at 77MM in the Peter Collins Trophy.
Ferrari 275 GTB/C
Imagine if someone took the Mona Lisa out for a run. It would get some people pretty het up wouldn't it? Well that's a pretty bad analogy for taking this 275 GTB out to race in the Graham Hill Trophy at Goodwood, but one which rings true for a few. Some consider this Ferrari to be one of the finest-looking cars of all time, and many would therefore argue that racing tooth and nail with other cars on a track is like taking artwork out of a museum for a quick Tough Mudder. For us though this is exactly what should be happening with such cars. This example, owned by Vincent Gaye, was last seen at Goodwood spinning out of the 76th Members' Meeting's Ronnie Hoare Trophy as it battled for the lead late on. The GTB/C looks absolutely at home on a race track, and its stunning 3.4-litre V12 sounds incredible as it peels round the spectator banks.
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