For me, a kid who grew up in Indianapolis watching Lotus and Lola redefine what an IndyCar is during the mid-1960s, these were the most beautiful race cars ever.
Loved Indy’s roadsters, but 1966 was just the second year a rear-engine racer won the Indianapolis 500 and it was England’s Graham Hill at the wheel. The British Invasion was more than just the Beatles!
Now Replicarz fleshes out its 1/18 scale Indy car lineup with Stewart and Hill’s beautiful Lolas from that high-attrition 1966 race, one with a first-lap accident that eliminated about a third of the 33-car field.
After Jim Clark and Dan Gurney finished second and seventh, respectively, in the 1963 Indy 500 in their low-slung Ford-powered Lotus 25s, the smart money was on rear-engine cars for 1964 and beyond. The roadsters got one more win with A.J. Foyt in 1964 at Indy, mainly because Lotus chose British Dunlop tires, which chunked and damaged the cars’ suspensions.
Clark dominated the 1965 race in his Lotus 38 and came in second in 1966, but that’s another story. Stewart’s story is a heartbreaker. He led 40 laps in the 1966 Indy 500 and was leading by more than a lap with 10 to go, but as often happens at Indy, the leader near the end isn’t the winner.
His engine’s oil pressure dropped severely due to a broken scavenge pump and he coasted to a stop in the fourth turn infield giving Hill the win. Stewart pleased the fans by walking the length of the pit waving to the cheering crowd as Hill crossed the yard of bricks. His Lola was virtually the same as Hill’s as they were part of the John Mecum Jr.-owned team, just with different sponsorship.
Stewart’s fine finish, ultimately he was 6th as so many cars had already dropped out before him, but his drive to the front earned him Rookie of the Year honors at the Speedway. Stewart started 11th and Hill 15th, but both luckily avoided the first lap accident that knocked Foyt and Dan Gurney, two favorites, from the race.
Stewart’s beautiful white and red Lola T90 is clean and attractive in a way only the Lolas and Lotuses were. So many other rear-engine racers were an amalgam of designs built around an Offenhauser engine. Look at Roger Ward’s Watson rear-engine racer (which should have won) from 1964.
This is sleek and well-proportioned with a Ford V8 nestled behind the driver, its eight stacks (four per side) protruding through the engine cover. Its snakelike exhaust pipes are a dark red that twist around over the tail, a big No. 43 encircled on each flank. Stylized flames lick back behind the numbers on the car’s sides and nose.
There are plenty of sponsor logos as that was becoming a thing at Indy in the 1960s. Prominent on the cockpit’s sides is the Bowes logo in a checkered box, plus Stewart’s name in script at the rear of the windscreen on the cockpit’s sides. A few of the better known logos atop the engine cover include Premier, Monroe, and Magnaflux, while Champion and Bear are further down the body’s side, as is STP, and Mobil is next to the side numbers.
There is a Mecum team logo on the nose’s upper air scoop and Lola logo lower down on the nose, along with Mobil’s Pegasus logo.
Just in front of the cockpit are two fuel filler nozzle hookups and a thin flat silver roll bar projects behind the cockpit, in hopes of providing the driver at least some protection if the car turned over. I particularly like the metal supports that look like small shelves on either side of the cockpit to hold bright red rearview mirrors.
The cockpit has a black low-slung seat with seatbelts and photo-etched metal buckles, while the steering wheel is black with a silver three-spoke center. Dash includes four gauges and wiring that runs under the windshield into the car’s nose. Plus there is a small gearshift on the cockpit’s right side.
Tires are branded Firestone with gold sidewall stripes and are properly treaded. Slicks had not taken hold at Indy yet, but it wouldn’t be long.
Vital Stats: 1966 Indy 500 Lola T90 (Jackie Stewart)
Stock No.: R18026