In order to put some order into our lives we divide time up into units…………hours, minutes, days, weeks, years, decades even centuries.
A decade is a handy period on which to look back on events……the dust has settled and the emotions cooled, leaving the just the story………..
Sometimes we can see the patterns of the present in the deeds past history……….and motor sport is no exception.
2008 at Le Mans is a time of optimism, the top class had a classic battle with Audi and Peugeot locked in combat for top spot. Over the hill marching to the sound of the gunfire are Aston Martin, Acura, Toyota and perhaps others, as yet unknown…………6 manufacturers or more fighting for the glory of the 24 Hours.
A dream perhaps…………..but…………look back at the past………….
1998 and there are manufacturers everywhere…………BMW, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota all in with full Werks efforts……..with Audi on the horizon……it all looked sooo good.
The race itself was another classic with more twists and lines in the plot than a whole season of The West Wing.
Total failure of BMW and Mercedes efforts early on left the race to the flag as a contest between Porsche and Toyota. Weissach's boys taking victory as a totally appropriate way of celebrating the 50th birthday of the world's greatest sportscar manufacturer.
The following year, flying Mercedes, the lure of Formula One for Toyota and economic woes for Nissan ensured that the promise of 1998 turned to dust.
On the positive side Audi arrived and has gone on to underpin the sport at the top level every since.
Now they face their greatest challenge in the 24 Hours with more opposition on the way……….will history repeat itself or will we move onto a bright future?
Only time will tell…………..
As ever the 1998 edition of Les Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans was full of colour……….here are a few snaps.
Nice collection of pix.
Great write up John. The late 90s was when I started getting into my endurange racing. Getting coverage on Eurosport helped massively of course. The 911 GT1 in its '98 vintage is easily in my top 5 racing cars of all time. Such a fantastic looking, sounding and performing car.
In fact, I find the cars of that late 90s period so much cooler than they are now. The panoz with the jet fighter look and the driver almost sitting on the back wheels. The Merc GT-R is beyond words for its visual design. Although it wasn't without its wee issues as Webber and Dumbreck found out!
As a total Nissan-otaku the R390's always baked my cakes and I would love dearly to see Nissan return to Le Mans. The Panoz GTR1 is one of my all time favourite cars - total American badass looking to offend the Europeans on their home turf! Thanks so much for these photos John - Im not sure how many times Ive had that shot of the two R390's as my desktop wallpaper over the past few years, cribbed from sportscarpros!
BTW high rez images are coming this week!
was the Nissan R390 and Toyota GT1 raced under Prototype or GT?
GT, but 'old style GT class'. Rules changed in 99 to stop manufactures producing a couple of roadcars, as that wasnt the original intention by the ACO or FiA
Happy days indeed. Does anyone remember how damn loud the Panozs (plural of Panoz?) were? How did the driver's hearing survive in a closed cabin with the engine in front of them?
Every now and then a car makes an appearance and you just go WOW! You know it has attitude, class, speed
It's all in the details................. Three days running around the grounds of Goodwood House
awesome post. So nice to look back to when GT cars actually fought for the win.
Holey Mark Webber batman