After recent social media posts ‘announcing’ plans for James Glickenhaus’s eponymous marque to launch and campaign a car to comply with the forthcoming 2020 LMP1/ GTP ‘Hypercar’ regulations, it seemed high time to catch up with the New York-based businessman.
As always Jim was happy to chat about his plans, and about why things had changed, pretty substantially, in the past 12 months.
As we’ll cover elsewhere on DSC today the past year has seen the company’s product plans transformed, with their manufacturing base now being established in Sleepy Hollow New York around the facility already owned by the company and which, amongst other things, houses their mouth-watering car collection.
The other major transition though is the current outlook on top class sports prototype racing.
Just over 12 months ago Jim Glickenhaus told this writer that he would love to do it, but that he would not spend his own money doing so. So what has changed?
“Two very important things,” he said. “firstly what we already know about the new regulations really interests me, I think the rule makers have had their eyes opened to the fact that the current breed of LMP1s, whilst stunning technical achievements, have little or no relevance to road cars and do not appeal to a lot of people , and companies, that could otherwise follow, or become involved in, endurance racing.
“Compare it to the passion that was stirred by the GT1 days, and the fact that something that bore a visual relationship to a road car could win overall. The last time that happened was in 1995 with McLaren and I think a return to that principle is long overdue.
“The second was that in conversation with my son, who is now fully involved with the business, he said to me: “Dad, Le Mans has been a dream for you since you were 12, you have the money to do it, so do it, don’t worry about leaving the money for me.”
“I took a bit of persuading but that’s where we are – the plan is that we will build two cars, (dubbed the 007) one will be entered and paid for by me, the other will be available to a customer at cost, and we will race at Le Mans with the new rules (2021).
“It will be built in the US, and we will be looking to run for the win. It’s been way too long since a US-built car won Le Mans, back to 1967 with the Ford MkIV, the later Fords were really British-built cars with US-built engines. We’ll be building the cars here, and it will use a US built engine too.
“We’ll also build 25 roadgoing versions of the 007 – likely without the hybrid which, in this instance, has very limited relevance to the road car. I’m provisionally pricing those road cars at $1 million and there is already interest in them – all profits from those will go directly to fund the race programme.
“I won’t lie the prospect is exciting, and I think there will be more takers in the class, but we are confident that our approach, and our record, will stand us in good stead.”
So just what fuelled the passion?
“I was involved in endurance racing back in the 60s, as a kid really, around the paddock trying to get involved and helping where I could, or where I was allowed.
“There were so many memories from those times that fuelled the passion but there’s one I will always remember. We were sitting in the paddock at Bridgehampton when we heard something coming along the access road, it was separated from the paddock by sand dunes but I could see this bright white wing, it looked like an aeroplane had landed.
“Then a pick-up truck turned into the paddock, with a car on an open trailer like nothing I had ever seen, the Chapparal, Jim Hall was driving the truck with his guys in a panel van behind, It was clear they had driven overnight from Midland, Texas to get there.
“He pulled up, they took the car off the trailer and then Jim Hall just pulled his Stetson over his eyes and went to sleep. A little later I was sent by my guys to go and get coffee, I went to the Dairy Queen and brought them, and Jim, a cup back, he lifted his hat and thanked me. A day I will never forget, and the scene has lost a lot of that magic.
“The current idea might, just might, get a little of it back with really exciting looking cars that have visual reference to road cars that people are still passionate about.”