By Will Silk
It’s not everyday that one comes across a vintage race car in the back of a garage or shop, but veteran F5000 driver Eric Haga has managed just that by finding and procuring six vintage Lola F5000 tubs, as well as several other key parts to go along with the monocoques.
Eric is no stranger to Formula 5000, as he competed in the original series in 1970 and 1971, and today he continues to compete in the North American F5000 Revival Series in the same Lola T190 that he waged war with back in 1970. That car, chassis number 190/F1/8, was reunited with Eric in 2008 after a restoration by Chip Boatright. From 2008 to the present, Haga has been racing the car actively across North America with the F5000 Revival Series.
When Eric’s not out on the track, he’s scouring the globe for as many parts as he can find. Recently Eric got wind that there was a gold mine of parts for Lola T190s and T192s located in Wixom, Michigan, USA. The Seattle native jumped in his truck and drove east to RM Motorsports where what he would find was astonishing indeed.
Upon arriving at RM Motorsports, Eric met with Bud Bennett. Bud had told Eric that he had six Lola F5000 tubs, four T190 models and two T192s. Bud also showed Eric the large selection of spares that he had to offer with the tubs, including some of the body molds for T190 and T192 cars that were made by Bennett himself. Eric didn’t have to give the deal much thought after seeing the complete package up close. He simply completed the transaction and headed back to Seattle.
Lola T190s and T192s enjoyed a prolific life in the Continental F5000 Series in North America, the Guards European Formula 5000 Championship in Europe, and the Tasman Series in Australia and New Zealand. Some of the most incredible drivers of the era piloted Lola T190s and T192s in the early 1970s. Mike Hailwood finished 4th in the Guards European Series in 1970 having piloted both variants during that season; and more notably Frank Gardner, who finished the 1970 Guards Series in 3rd place behind the wheel of his T190. Frank would return to the Guards Series in Europe in a Lola T190 for 1971, before moving to a T300 later in the season and capturing the championship. Meanwhile, in North America, Jerry Hansen used a Lola T192 to capture his first SCCA Formula A title in 1971. Jerry would continue to drive other models from Huntingdon and win the Formula A title each year through to 1976. While the find was immediately deemed to be significant due to so few Lola T190 and T192 models in existence today; Eric knew little of each tubs individual history, only receiving a stack of documentation to later be gone through once back in Seattle.
With Eric having made it home with his treasure, he began to rummage through the paperwork that accompanied the massive find. “So far I have identified two of the tubs from the accompanying paperwork”, Eric states. “They are T190/F1/12, the car that was raced by Mike Goth, Crockey Peterson and Gus Hutchison in the Continental Series in 1970; and T192 chassis number HU23, the car that Lou Sell had at the Questor.”
Jerry Hansen has also been contacted and has confirmed that chassis number HU23 is the tub he won his first of six SCCA Formula A titles in 40 years ago, making it a very historic car for open wheel road racing collectors. Eric plans to continue researching the chassis numbers to obtain more about the history of each tub.
The Lola T190 is very significant in that it represented a major step forward in the company’s F5000 design, as it moved from the space frame T142 of 1969 to a full monocoque layout of the T190. Frank Gardner was responsible for doing the brunt of the development work on the T190 in order to make it more competitive with its contemporary rivals from McLaren, Leda, and Surtees. Many of the improvements were carried over to the T192, which continued with the monocoque layout the T190 pioneered for Broadley’s race car company a year earlier by Bob Marston, the T190’s Chief Engineer.
Eric would like to get these tubs out to racers that are going to properly restore and race them, “My hope is to either get these tubs into the hands of people who will restore them and get them on track, or to do them (one at a time) myself and get them to customers who will put them on the grid. After all, this isn’t a museum that I have here. They had been stored in the rafters and on shelves for years where I found them and I couldn’t pass them up. We need more cars on the grid.”
For more information on how to procure one of these incredibly rare F5000 tubs and all the right bits to build up a car, contact Eric Haga at [email protected]. Further information on the current location of two of the three known Lola T190 cars that are currently racing can be accessed at www.f5000registry.com/lola. As far as Lola T192 variants in service, there are three known to be in the USA and one in Australia. It is without doubt that Eric will insure that the six tubs he has come across will find proper homes and be racing once again in the very near future.
[Source: Eric Haga]