Photography by Riley Stair
Henry Ford can be credited with more than just a couple of great innovations. Some may argue that the assembly line production of automobiles, or perhaps his Model T, which revolutionized American transportation, were his greatest contributions to the world; however, something else comes to mind. “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.
4:00 AM came earlier than expected. We were 2500 miles away from home, en route to the Daytona International Speedway for the grand unveiling of the all new BMW Z4 GTE, long before the sun had even considered making an appearance. The track sat silent and empty, and BMW’s crew had yet to arrive. Tucked away in the paddock bays sat BMW’s lineage of race cars, ranging from the Donohue E34 M5 to last year’s ALMS E92 twins.
While BMW can claim one of the most renowned and prestigious racing pedigrees in history, there is one arena in which their tally falls short. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest active endurance race, stands as one of the most important races in the automotive world. Also known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, the ultimate in technology, Le Mans Prototypes, race among GT class cars in a battle for the most laps in just 24 hours.
In the car scene of today, the current trend seems to be pushing cars to their absolute extreme, often leaving any sense of practicality behind in the pursuit of creating the next “big hit.” The wheels sit mere millimeters (or less) from the fenders, smashing into them over even the slightest of bumps, while the ground “clearance” insures the body of the car is just as friendly with the pavement.
Imagine, for a moment, that in an undisclosed location, there is a locked room. Inside of the room, shelves are stocked with the rarest and most desirable parts for the cars of the make of your choosing. Whether you’re a Corvette fan, a Nissan guy, or even one of the oddballs that has a thing for those late-’80s “Shelby” badged Dodge Shadows – behind that door lie parts you can only dream of. Race engines, suspension components, brakes, and transmissions.