While many consider the Golden Era of motorsport consigned to yesteryear, I argue we are living it today.
When asked, most motorsports enthusiasts will say the best time to be a racing fan was sometime before the 90’s. Some will say claim the era of Group-B rally racing where manufacturers essentially had zero restrictions was the pinnacle of excitement. Others are adamant that the tumultuous battles in Formula 1 during the 60’s and 70’s reign supreme. Your friend’s Great- Grandfather will profess the interwar period of Grand Prix racing will never be surpassed.
I am not going to say they are wrong, everyone has their personal favorite for various justifiable reasons, but I believe the best era of motorsport is happening right now. Porsche just lapped Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in Belgium quicker than a Formula 1 car. As a farewell to the immensely successful Porsche 919 endurance racer, Porsche gave the car the ‘Evo’ moniker and turned the dial up to 11 to give it 53 percent more power with one goal in mind: smash some track records.
This morning the 919 Evo piloted by Porsche factory driver, Neel Jani, set a blistering lap record of 1:41.770, a whole .783 seconds quicker than the record set by Lewis Hamilton in his Formula 1 car. To put that into perspective, Jani maintained an average speed of 152.6 miles per hour and completed the 4.335 mile course 12 seconds faster than the previous time set by the standard Porsche 919.
Most of the previous eras of motorsport were limited by one thing- safety. Just as race cars began to get a bit too fast or competitive, there was either a historic disaster that highlighted a major flaw in the car or a governing body was proactive and tightened restrictions to keep things safer.
Nowadays drivers are walking away from horrific accidents that would have certainly been fatal in other eras of motorsport. Manufacturers now have the confidence to push their machines to the absolute limits of aerodynamics, engine performance and mechanical grip resulting in spectacular feats like this one.
Some may dismiss this achievement as a publicity stunt by Porsche to secure the legacy of the 919, but the 2015, 2016 and 2017 wins at Le Mans for the World Endurance Championship have already done just that.
I suggest we sit back and marvel at what motorsport has evolved into in 2018. Any cross-series competition should be celebrated as it helps usher in new regulations and forces all motorsport organizations to compete to stay relevant and exciting.
Car fanatic turned journalist.