Race Circuit

McLaren’s Latest Flex Is (Another) Race Car Based on the Artura

McLaren’s Latest Flex Is (Another) Race Car Based on the Artura

McLaren averts banality by sticking to supercar essentials: carbon fiber monocoques, scissor doors and absolutely no SUVs. The brand’s latest supercar showoff-move is the Artura Trophy race car, a competition-focused machine that’s already the second race-car spinoff from the newly introduced Artura hybrid.

On the heels of the 720S GT3, Artura GT4, and soon-to-be-discontinued 570S GT4, this latest racer takes a fine disregard to performance-choking BoP (Balance of Power) regulations, which are racing organizations’ ways of leveling the playing field by capping the power and aerodynamics setups of different manufacturers. By building a one-make race series around the Artura, McLaren is able to play by its own rules and set up their race cars as they desire. In a way, the race version is uncorked—but ironically, it starts life as a GT4-spec Artura, which has been stripped of its hybrid hardware in order to adhere to GT4 rules. 

McLaren Artura Trophy Race Car 

McLaren Automotive

In Trophy form, the Artura’s twin-turbo V-6 produces 577 hp. Alleviated from its hybrid hardware, the drivetrain is down on power compared to the road car’s 671 hp. But freed from the BoP ballast weight intended to keep competitors on even ground, the lighter racer adds an enhanced aerodynamic package with a high-downforce wing that should enable greater cornering speeds.
Would-be Pro-Am racers can take on the competition in the McLaren Trophy Championship, which will support the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe series in 2023 at events including the Spa 24 Hours. Among McLaren’s selling points is a concierge service that enables a seamless process of hotel bookings and transfers, and a paddock race center inspired by the company’s Formula 1 efforts with baked-in space for entertaining friends, family, sponsors and team managers. McLaren says the Artura’s engine-management system and aerodynamic package are easily converted to GT4 specification without purchasing a new race car, yet another selling point for racers seeking to make a small fortune from a big one.

Watch: I Hit 215 MPH in a McLaren (Legally). Here’s What It Was Like.

Watch: I Hit 215 MPH in a McLaren (Legally). Here’s What It Was Like.

Just north of Ketchum, Idaho is Phantom Hill, a scenic stretch of state highway that begs for extralegal speed. Tarmac cuts through the majestic natural landscape in a gentle arc that resolves into a lengthy downhill straightaway. It’s a delight to pilot these roads at triple-digit speeds, though 364 days out of the year doing so would likely land you in jail.

The Sun Valley Tour de Force was founded in 2018 as a way to celebrate speed and raise funds for local charities. While a group drive and car show offer typical supercar spectacle, the main event brings law-breaking wish fulfillment to new levels by closing off the road and allowing participants the opportunity to drive as fast as their high-powered cars will take them. The No Speed Limit portion shuts down 3.2 miles of road at Phantom Hill, and requires a considerable amount of coordination and safety precautions. Because I wasn’t able to attend the mandatory safety meeting ahead of the runs, the team arranged a Zoom meeting in which I was briefed on the particulars of the no-limits event. 

The McLaren 720S Spider  

Sun Valley Tour de Force

Practically every eventuality has been thought through. Every participating vehicle is required to pass a thorough tech inspection and wear tires that are no more than 5 years old. Spectators must clear the road by 300 feet, and 16 spotters ensure the road is clear of wildlife by remaining in radio contact with drivers. 
The staging area fills early on Saturday morning with an eclectic group of participants. The usual contemporary supercar suspects are present—Ferrari 812 GTSs and 488 GTBs, Porsche 911 Turbos and Audi R8 V10s, and small batch specials like a Pagani Huayra and a Singer Vehicle Design Porsche 911. Classic exotica is also well represented, from a first-gen Dodge Viper to a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Oddball outliers include a pristine, 40-year-old Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck and a custom-built 1966 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe, whose owner was intent on beating a 210 mph record. Incidentally, the outright 253.01 mph record was set by a Bugatti Chiron in 2019.

Basem Wasef in the cockpit of a McLaren Spider 

Sun Valley Tour de Force

At my disposal is a McLaren 720S Spider and 765LT Spider provided by the carmaker, who serves as a title sponsor for the event. First up: the edgier 765LT, whose lighter weight and more aggressive aerodynamics might make it appear to be weapon of choice for these high-speed proceedings. With a radio tucked into my ear fitted snug beneath a carbon fiber helmet, I line up at the start line and watch the 720S ahead get the thumbs up and blast off into the distance. Moments after it disappears over the crest, there’s a beat of silence as I double check the car’s settings and anticipate the signal that the 3.2 miles of road ahead are mine to attack. 

The thing about driving a 755 horsepower supercar full tilt into a blind corner is that the first time requires a paradoxical combination of boldness and caution. Speed accumulates with brutal efficiency: 60 mph arrives in 2.7 seconds, 100 in 5.4 clicks. Hurtling into the triple digits, the McLaren makes the landscape blurrier until the tachometer’s climb hovers near 8,000 rpm. The thrum is intense, as is the near-impossibility of visually processing details as the surroundings speed past. Holding the steering wheel as it dances slightly in your hands near top speed is like balancing the upbringing of a spirited child: The grasp must be firm enough for control, but flexible enough to allow for the wiggles. Through the traps at an indicated 205 mph, I lift the accelerator and the air brake instantly fills the rear mirror, keeping the vehicle from losing control due to the sudden shift in balance and downforce. 

Writer Basem Wasef driving the McLaren 720S Spider 

Sun Valley Tour de Force

Counterintuitively, McLaren’s less powerful 720S Spider manages a higher claimed top speed thanks to its slipperier aerodynamics and taller gearing. Lined up again at the start line, the 720S doesn’t punch quite as aggressively off the line, but still accelerates hard enough to press you firmly against the form fitting seats. This time the McLaren’s legs are long, punching past 150 and into 200, creeping up click by click until it settles at an indicated 213 mph. Data from the official speed trap reveals I hit a max velocity of 215.72 mph, a satisfying number that isn’t far off from the day’s fastest officially recorded speed of 221.67 mph, set by a Ferrari F8 Tributo.
Once the top speed event concludes, it’s time to enjoy Idaho’s stunning roads—only this time with heightened awareness of potential repercussions. It’s a seemingly frivolous endeavor, chasing top speed numbers in fantastical carbon fiber supercars. But if there’s a counterargument to the octane-fueled excess, it’s the organization’s fundraising efforts, which raised $580,000 this year for the Hunger Coalition, an accomplishment that gives even more reason makes next year’s event bigger than ever.

McLaren Is Joining Formula E Next Season

McLaren Is Joining Formula E Next Season

Drivers, start your electric engines: McLaren will be competing in Formula E races starting next season.

The British automaker’s racing division is acquiring the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, marking its entry into the all-electric motorsport circuit. Of course, McLaren is no stranger to auto racing. Fans have previously been able to watch its drivers in Formula 1, IndyCar, Extreme E, and even e-sport races.

“I firmly believe that Formula E will give McLaren Racing a competitive advantage through greater understanding of EV racing, while providing a point of difference to our fans, partners and people, and continuing to drive us along our sustainability pathway,” Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren Racing, said in a statement.

The Mercedes-EQ team is currently the reigning champ of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Even as part of the McLaren family, it will continue to be led by Ian James, to ensure a smooth transition.

The Formula E Berlin E-Prix that took place this month 

Associated Press

“Becoming part of the McLaren Racing family is a privilege: McLaren has always been synonymous with success and high-performance,” James said in a statement. “This is a great moment for all parties involved but, above all, for the people that make up this team. They are what keeps its heart beating.”
Formula E was conceived in 2011, with its first championship race held in Beijing in 2014. It gained FIA world championship status in 2020, and 11 teams competed in the circuit as of the 2021–22 season. Earlier this year, Maserati said that it would also be joining Formula E for the upcoming season, becoming the first Italian marque in the series.

Further changes next season include the introduction of Formula E’s Gen3 racer, which the organization has called its “fastest, most efficient and sustainable race car yet,” according to Hypebeast.
In the coming months, McLaren will announce its driver lineup, powertrain suppliers and commercial partners. Sounds like we’ll have a number of exciting races to tune in for soon.

Always Wanted to Drive a Formula 1 Car? Here Are 4 Places Where You Can

Always Wanted to Drive a Formula 1 Car? Here Are 4 Places Where You Can

With Formula 1’s 73rd season just off the starting line, motorsport’s premier race series is in the midst of a turbocharged popularity surge thanks to last year’s riveting battle between seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and heir apparent Max Verstappen—not to mention the Netflix documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive, with its focus on the real-life drama both inside and outside the cars.

But for the ultimate thrill, try a turn behind the wheel of an actual pedigreed F1 racer. Even decades-old competition chassis remain among the most high-tech, demanding and rare vehicles on the planet, and with the ability to pilot them around some of the world’s most famous circuits, you can consider the rest of your automotive bucket list obsolete.

1. Bovingdon Airfield

Hertfordshire, England
Instead of an F1 circuit, TrackDays will have you flying around England’s Bovingdon Airfield in the same Jordan EJ12 that Takuma Sato piloted through his rookie season in 2002. Before drivers take on the ex-Sato sled and its nearly 600 hp, 10,500 rpm V-10, the five-hour curriculum (starting at approximately $1,300) includes a preparatory 14 laps of skill-honing drills in a sports car, plus another 20 laps in an open-wheel F1000. For the finale, 10 laps in the Jordan await, though up to 20 more can be added for a supplemental charge.
Race Car: Jordan EJ12
Engine: 3.0-liter naturally aspirated Judd V-8
Power: 600 hp
2. Circuit Paul Ricard

Le Castellet, France
Founded and run by former F1 test driver and Formula 3 champion Laurent Redon, LRS Formula offers three levels of action. The Bronze experience includes a 650 hp Benetton B198 from 1998 or a 2001-season Prost AP04, while the Silver option introduces the 750 hp Jaguar R3, circa 2002. But it’s the Gold selection, priced from around $6,500, that unleashes the real fury: a 2011 Williams FW33 producing 750 hp at 18,000 rpm. (That’s down from the KERS-enhanced 830 hp on hand when Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado were in the cockpit, but don’t flatter yourself that you’ll miss it.) Drive days take place at acclaimed circuits in France, Spain and Portugal, and begin with stints in 200 hp Formula Renault 2.0 cars, the type Kimi Räikkönen raced prior to finding F1 glory.

Race Car: Williams FW33
Engine: 2.4-liter naturally aspirated Cosworth V-8
Power: 750 hp
Other Circuits: Dijon-Prenois; Nevers Magny-Cours; Barcelona-Catalunya; Portimão
3. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Stavelot, Belgium
With 22 years in operation, Italy’s Puresport Racing School puts you behind the wheel of the A18 racer campaigned by 1996 World Drivers’ Champion Damon Hill during his 1997 season with the Arrows team. Originally fit with a 700 hp Yamaha V-10, the car is now propelled by a 3.0-liter Cosworth V-8 delivering 500 hp at 9,000 rpm. (Prior to buckling in to Hill’s former ride, drivers warm up with 10 laps in a 255 hp Formula 3 machine.) With sessions starting at $4,300, set dates are available across famed European circuits in Belgium, Germany and Italy, where participants experience the tracks in their entirety. There’s also the option of a camera car to record your personal Grand Prix performance.
Race Car: Arrows A18
Engine: 3.0-liter naturally aspirated Cosworth V-8
Power: 500 hp
Other Circuits: More than a dozen, including Hockenheimring, Imol and Monza
4. Dubai Autodrome

Dubai, UAE
Although the United Arab Emirates (UAE) currently hosts Formula 1 in its capital of Abu Dhabi, neighboring city Dubai is home to what is known as “the heart of UAE motorsport,” the Dubai Autodrome. Through the latter’s F1 experience, starting from about $2,700, drivers will familiarize themselves with the Autodrome’s 1.52-mile Club Circuit configuration in both a BMW 330i and a Radical SR3; after that, the real deal: a stint in a 550 hp version of the R1 race car used by the Jaguar team during the 2000 season. (You can also climb into an Arrows A23, also with 550 hp, from that team’s short-lived 2002 campaign.) That means a minimum of four laps around the FIA-sanctioned track, in the same type of vehicle British driver Johnny Herbert finished his career, and the exact car driven by his teammate Eddie Irvine.

Race Car: Jaguar R1
Engine: 3.0-liter naturally aspirated Judd V-8
Power: 550 hp

A Formula 1 Grand Prix Is Finally Coming to Miami Next Year

A Formula 1 Grand Prix Is Finally Coming to Miami Next Year

As Will Smith’s backing singers cooed way back in 1997, “Bienvenidos a Miami.”

The 2021 Formula 1 season may barely be at its halfway point, but planning for next year is already well under way. And one of the biggest days on the upcoming calendar will be the championship’s first-ever race in Miami.
Months after announcing that there would finally be a Miami Grand Prix, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that, barring further pandemic-related complications, the race will be held next May, according to Planet F1.  The race will be one of two held in the US next year, along with the United States Grand Prix held in Austin, Texas, and the first held in the Sunshine state since 1959.

“We can confirm that the much-anticipated Miami Grand Prix will happen in the first half of May, and demand for tickets is high, even though sales have not officially started,” the executive said during a recent investor call.

The latest addition to the Formula 1 calendar won’t be a one-off event. Formula 1 has entered into a 10-year contract with race organizers, the organization announced in April. The race will be held on a brand-new, semi-permanent course built at the site of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The circuit will cover 3.36 miles, feature nice curves and top speeds should hover in the 200-mph zone, according to race organizers.

Coming together👀19 corners. 5.41km.3 potential DRS zones. 320 km/h top speed.We can’t wait for 2022. #TrackTuesday pic.twitter.com/clGnziThsA
— F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) August 3, 2021

Although the full 2022 Formula 1 race calendar won’t be released until the fall, it’s believed that the Miami Grand Prix will take place during the same month as the competition’s crown jewel, the Monaco Grand Prix. As of now, it’s also unclear if the new race will just be an addition to the schedule or if it will supplant an existing race like the Turkish, Japanese or Brazilian Grand Prixs, all of which could be candidates for replacement, according to Planet F1.
Whichever it is, Miami will be just the 11th location to host a Formula 1 race in the US. Along with Austin, other locations include Indianapolis; Sebring, Florida (which hosted the state’s only other F1 race in 1959), Riverside, California; Watkins Glen, New York; Long Beach, California; Las Vegas; Detroit; Dallas and Phoenix.
Even if the competition decides to leave Austin after next season when its contract runs out, American Formula 1 fans won’t have to worry about leaving the country for racing action for years to come.

The Dynamic New 320 HP Ariel Atom Roadster Is a Monstrously Fun Track Assailant

The Dynamic New 320 HP Ariel Atom Roadster Is a Monstrously Fun Track Assailant

If there’s an exception to the adage that the slowest motorcycle is always more exhilarating than the fastest car, it’s the Ariel Atom. Not just because the two-seat roadster qualifies as a car only by the barest definition—a handful of body panels, no power steering, conveniences such as a plastic windscreen come extra and adjusting the seat requires both tools and patience—but because so much face-warping speed is available in such an elemental design. From the molded composite driver’s seat one can sense the sort of raucous, rear-mid-engine, open-air fun Jacky Ickx used to have tossing his Porsche 936 around Le Mans.

That engine is the same 320 hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the bonkers Honda Civic Type R, used here to motivate a machine, at 1,312 pounds dry, that weighs well less than half that car. This fourth-generation Atom represents a full re-engineering over previous iterations; the new car is wider, its wheelbase increased by two inches for better stability at high speeds. It’s odd to call something so explosively dynamic “mannered,” but through Virginia International Raceway’s rollicking, 1.65-mile South Course, the 162-mph, six-speed exoskeleton rocket was that—planted, intuitive and monstrously fun, with little of the old models’ high-limit snappishness. Steering is beautifully weighted, direct but no longer darting. Acceleration feels, roughly, like being hit in the back by a bullet train. 

The Ariel Atom dashboard. 

Shoot for Detail

Ariel will tell you that the Atom 4 can be made road-legal in most states, but for what? Sure, it’s now surprisingly easy and tramline-free to drive around town (except, fair warning, the ceaseless turbo shriek from the overhead air intake is about as pleasant as sitting next to a baby fighter jet that never ever, ever, ever stops screaming; ear plugs are recommended at all times) but for $74,750 to start you get the perfect track weapon, somehow both terrifyingly capable and approachably playful, a pure driver’s machine designed purely for driving, and nothing else.

Bentley’s 550 HP Continental GT3 Racer Will Run on Biofuel at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Bentley’s 550 HP Continental GT3 Racer Will Run on Biofuel at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Bentley has no plans to rest on its laurels at this year’s Pikes Peak.

To build on impressive wins in 2018 and 2019, the luxury marque has unveiled the menacing new Bentley Continental GT3, which it hopes will set yet another lap record at the 2021 mountain race in Colorado.
Painted black with handsome gold accents, the racer looks nothing if not imposing. What’s under the hood is no less impressive. The Continental GT3 will be powered by gutsy 4-liter V-8 that, in a first for the company, will run on biofuel. The setup will churn out a robust 550 horses.

To be sure, the racer will need that kind of power to maneuver through the famously challenging mountain course, which has 156 corners and finishes around 14,000 feet above sea level. To set a new Time Attack 1 record, the car will need to complete the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds at an average speed of 78 mph.

Side-view of the Bentley Continental GT3 

Photo Courtesy: Bentley

To make that outcome more likely, Bentley’s work didn’t stop with powertrain. It also enhanced the racer’s aerodynamics. The Continental GT3 features the largest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley and an eye-catching rear diffuser. There’s also a two-plane front splitter to balance out the rear’s dynamics.
Perhaps the boldest change was the decision to make the GT3 run on biofuel, as part the brand’s commitment to go fully electric by 2030. In addition to creating biofuel for the Pikes Peak racer, Bentley says it is also currently testing multiple blends of biofuels for its consumer fleet.

Rear-view of the Bentley Continental GT3 

Photo Courtesy: Bentley

“We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time—now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 program,” said Bentley’s member of the board for engineering, Dr. Matthias Rabe in a statement. “Our powertrain engineers are already researching both biofuels and e-fuels for use by our customers alongside our electrification program—with intermediate steps of adopting renewable fuels at the factory in Crewe and for our company fleet.”
Bentley, of course, is no stranger to success at Pikes Peak. In 2018, the marque’s Bentayga model set the first record for the company by crossing the finish line in just 10 minutes, 49 seconds. A year later, the automaker’s Continental GT set a production car set another record, beating the previous year by over eight seconds. Now the only question is whether a Continental GT3 that runs on biofuel can deliver the marque’s third and final record. That question will be answered, one way or the other, on June 27.

Check out more images of the Bentley Continental GT3 below:

Photo Courtesy: Bentley

Photo Courtesy: Bentley

Photo Courtesy: Bentley

Ferrari Is Finally Returning to Le Mans With a New Hybrid Hypercar Racer

Ferrari Is Finally Returning to Le Mans With a New Hybrid Hypercar Racer

Ferrari wants start winning trophies again.
On Wednesday, the Prancing Horse announced that it will make its return to Le Mans after a 50-year absence. The revered automaker is currently at work on a vehicle that will compete in the new top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship starting in 2023.
Ferrari’s press release is light on details, but based on what we know about Le Mans’s new hypercar class, the vehicle will feature a hybrid powertrain, be limited to 670 horsepower (268 of can be produced by its electric motor) and weigh 2,270 pounds. Development of the car is already under way and the automaker said that its name and racing team will be revealed in the near future.

“In over 70 years of racing, on tracks all over the world, we led our closed-wheel cars to victory by exploring cutting-edge technological solutions: innovations that arise from the track and make every road car produced in Maranello extraordinary,” Ferrari president John Elkann said in a statement. “With the new Le Mans Hypercar program, Ferrari once again asserts its sporting commitment and determination to be a protagonist in the major global motorsport events.”
The Ferrari 512M competes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1971  Ferrari

Even better, the new hypercar racer will be available for purchase once it’s finished. In order to be eligible to race, the marque must approve the car for sale and build at least 25 production examples of it.
Despite not having competed in Le Mans’s top class since 1971, Ferrari has a rich history at racing’s most storied competition. The Italian automaker has claimed the top prize nine times, including in six straight races between 1960 and 1965. That streak, the second longest in the competition’s history, was famously snapped by Ford in 1966, a momentous event that is the basis for the 2019 film, Ford v Ferrari. In total, Ferrari has 36 victories across all classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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