The Lola T70 that rose from the ashes

16th March 2023
Ethan Jupp

Historic racing is a business of attrition. Even in a season of perfectly-run races, engines and structures need rebuilds, bodywork needs to be touched up and parts need to be replaced. All the way on the other end of the scale was a Mr Ian Simmonds, who on 25th August, 2021, three weeks before that year’s Goodwood Revival, at a noise-limited testing session around the Motor Circuit, found himself halfway up the Lavant Straight in a Lola T70 Spyder with flames billowing out the back of it.


On fire less than a month before the race. As we said. Other end of the scale. Yet come the event, the car was back in race-ready condition, immaculate, gleaming in the waning summer sun, with nary a blister to be seen. Make do and mend indeed. Knowing what had happened, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch up with Ian at the 2021 Revival on the circumstances of the issue, and indeed this car’s quite literal steep and near-instant rise out of the ashes, we say again, in under three weeks.

It really was immaculate too, sitting amongst its fellow Whitsun Trophy competitors in the paddocks at the Motor Circuit after a practice session. We introduce ourselves and get straight to the point. “Can you tell?”, Ian asks in response to our enquiry about a car that, three weeks previously, was looking rather worse for wear.

“Philip here has worked his magic on it and it’s moved on from what was a bit of a disastrous day to being a beautiful car again.”


Philip Cheek is the other co-founder of Ian’s team, Complete Motorsport Solutions. Running three T70s in total – among a number of other cars – was part of what allowed such a quick turnaround of SL70/13, from crispy to crisp-looking once again.

“Fortunately the damage was superficial,” Ian explains. “There’s a new rear clam. We had some rear bodywork because the team runs three T70s, so we had got one spare, which was destined for another car. We quickly got that painted and fitted. They’re all slightly different so it took a bit of work. With a bit of cleaning, checking and stripping everything down, we got it sorted. We stripped the engine down, the fuel lines, replaced what needed to be replaced and we’re back.”

As for what caused the fire? A cruel twist of fate, as it was suspected that if the car were in unsilenced race trim, it would have been fine. It was the silencer during testing, that caused issues leading to heat build-up in the rear of the car.


“It was to do with the extra exhaust used during testing, to keep the volume down, that didn’t allow the heat to get out. There was more back pressure and it was causing a backfire and the exhaust popped a rivet. We think that then leaked hot vapours into the engine bay which heated up whatever caught fire.”

What’s worse? With the incident only three weeks before the Revival, there was barely time to repair the car, let alone test it. Understandably Simmonds didn’t fancy testing it with a silencer again, so practice and qualifying at the event itself were the first real runs at full tilt for the car post-repair. By Ian’s account, they didn’t get the laps they wanted done either, due to session pauses.

“The car felt fantastic in testing, it’s just a shame it was a bit of stop-start. We wanted to do one lap, come in, check it over and make sure there were no hidden disasters. Obviously, the fire was only three weeks ago so between getting it sorted and now, there were very few opportunities to get it out and test it without sticking a load of silencers on it again. We got out for our lap, came in and checked it, it was fine, but we didn’t get the chance to go back out properly.”


The car has been a regular at Goodwood, having attended a number of Revivals and Members’ Meetings, Ian’s first entry being shortly after he acquired the car, at Revival 2019. He followed up his heroic 2021 Revival return with an entry in 2022. But before coming into the hands of Complete Motorsport Solutions, it was a very successful historic racer, racking up victories in the Whitsun Trophy at the 2008 Goodwood Revival, and the Surtees Trophy at the 75th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport. Ian got himself a sorted car too, given it came fresh from a rebuild completed in 2017, following 11 years of no-expense-spared maintenance by Simon Hadfield Motorsport.

Chassis SL70/13 began its life in 1965 in a small fleet of racers under John Mecom Racing. Known as the Zerex Special – as emblazoned on its side – it was a development car featuring a shorter wheelbase and anti-dive rear suspension. It started life as a fighter, a survivor and a winner, as it so evidently continues to be today, taking victory on its debut at the Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in 1965, before being crashed in qualifying for the Stardust Grand Prix in Las Vegas. Following a drawn-out repair process, it made its way to England, and the rest, as they say, is history.


“We’ve had the car four years [as of Revival 2021],” he explains. We were lucky enough to be invited in 2019, missed 2020 obviously and now [2021] we’re back. Beforehand a chap called Howard Jones had the car for a few years. I’m still learning to drive it, it’s an absolute monster. It’s the most amazing experience and I’m so, so lucky to do it. We’re lucky to have an event like this to come and drive. It’s beautiful to be here with everyone out smiling.

“I’m not allowed to take it easy when it comes to racing but I’m not a hugely experienced driver. I want to finish, finish safely and do the best I can do. I’m an amateur, I’m a gentleman driver and I behave as such. It’s casual and a bit of fun. I love the car and I fully intend to keep it. It’s just an enormous privilege.”

  • Revival

  • Revival 2021

  • Lola

  • T70

  • Whitsun Trophy

  • whitsun-trophy-revival-2022-02.jpg

    Goodwood Revival

    Gallery: Whitsun Trophy at Revival 2022

  • lotus-30-lola-t70-revival-video-31012022.jpeg

    Goodwood Revival

    Video: Incredible Lotus 30 and Lola T70 track battle

  • race-7-whitsun-trophy-full-race-video-goodwood-22092021.jpg

    Goodwood Revival

    Video: 2021 Whitsun Trophy full race | Goodwood Revival