Victory Lane Magazine: July 2013, Volume 28, No. 7 – Driver/Car Interview
Sunday morning at Summit Point was cold, windy, and a bit damp. The forecast called for rain. Because of this, a few of the competitors decided that they had had plenty of race activity over Friday and Saturday and were already packing up to go home. As I walked through the paddock trying to determine who I would approach for an interview, I saw the car that most caught my eye this weekend being loaded up in its trailer. I figured this was my only chance, so that’s when I met Paul Wilson, of Fairfield, Virginia.
In my opinion, I was now looking at one of the most stunning cars that took to the track this weekend. Paul agreed to speak with me about his 1965 Lola T70 Roadster (#26). Its simple blue and gold livery beautifully captured the classic lines of this legendary car make and model. Paul noted that he has had a love affair with the Lola T70 since he saw its sister car compete in 1966 Can-Am at Bridgehampton, with John Surtees behind the wheel. This particular car competed in the 1966 USRRC, winning the Riverside Grand Prix with Buck Fulp behind the wheel. Fulp almost won the 1966 championship in this car, but a clutch failure at Elkhart Lake stood in the way.
Paul stated that the car exchanged hands multiple times, having been purchased by the Goodyear team and was supplied to Roger McCluskey to drive in 1967. He added that this particular car is one of the most original T70 roadsters in existence. Paul noted that a total of 42 T70 roadsters were made and many of them had been wrecked. Looking over the details of the car, Paul explained that it still has the original tub, gearbox, carburetors, cockpit instruments, and wheels. Armed with a Chevy small block, Paul noted that the car has a 58mm intake manifold originally designed for the 1964 Corvette Grand Sport.
Paul reflected that he had looked “lovingly” at this shape for 45 years. He stated that about seven or eight years ago he found the car in California, adding that it was in need of a major restoration. He purchased the car, describing it as a “basket case” and brought it back to Virginia “in boxes”. The restoration project took approximately one year to get it on track for its first shake-down tests. Paul noted that the brakes and setting the suspension required most of the development work. Currently, he says, “it’s as close to perfection, for me, as it can get.”
Looking back, Paul stated that this has been a unbelievable fantasy to own a car that he once saw race as a kid. He described the driving experience as being stable, secure, and confidence inspiring. He added that it is predictable and that there’s nothing tricky about it.
Due to a forecast that called for inclement weather for most of the day, Paul had decided to pack it in for the weekend and head home. He explained that he has other cars that he races regularly, but when the conditions are right he will stretch the legs of the Lola. Due to the significance of the car, who would question his decision? I certainly won’t. But I’m very glad to have spoken with Paul and take a closer look at this piece of racing history.