You might remember Paul Lanzante’s name for the fact that his team will build road-legal McLaren P1 GTRs, but back in 1995, he was the guy who went to Le Mans to race an F1 that wasn’t ready to race at all.

The fact that Paul Lanzante hasn’t been to Le Mans before wasn’t the biggest issue they had. When the GTR Le Mans 24 project landed at him, it was already late in the year so the drivers they could get on such short notice barely had any seat time in the car prior to qualifying. The car itself was also half finished at best since the mechanics had to get to know each other before getting elbow deep in the GTR, a mule that was developed on a day-to-day basis.

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They had no chance. So many things remained on their to-do lists at the start that Lanzante expected their prototype to run maybe for an hour or so, but certainly not for 24. The #59 GTR even had some tools onboard so that the drivers can replace their fuel pumps in case of a failure, because they couldn’t finish the backup system properly. Madness.

In the end, a clever strategy, a pair of tricky headlamps, the magic of JJ Lehto and the correct alinement on all the planets in the galaxy put a small company called McLaren in the history books.

Today, Lanzante Motorsport is led by Paul’s son Dean. They service all F1 GTRs and have the best website this side of Jalopnik.

Photo credit: McLaren via Lanzante


Contact the author at mate@jalopnik.com.