Lotus 56 Turbine - "Turbine Wedge In the Age Of Innovation"

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The Indianapolis 500 race has long been a crucible of man and machine. Known as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing", there were many innovations in the quest for speed. In 1967, Andi Granatelli’s STP-Paxton team qualified the first turbine powered car to run in the race. Driver Parnelli Jones nearly won the race that year with the car failing with only three laps to go due to a $6 transmission bearing.

The following year, Andy Granatelli teamed up with Lotus Cars to field another turbine car design. The Lotus 56 was a gas turbine-powered, four-wheel-driven racing car. In addition to the unique power plant, the Lotus 56 featured a striking wedge shaped design. There were four cars each powered by the Pratt & Whitney ST6N-74 gas turbine engine which produced 500 + BHP. The cars did not require a conventional gearbox because of the turbine engine generates a wealth of torque across the entire rev range.

Three cars qualified for the race driven by Graham Hill, Joe Leonard, and Art Pollard. Joe Leonard set a new track record during qualifying of 171,559 MPH and earning him the pole position. While the turbine car in the 1967 race ran away from the field, the cars in the 1968 race were more evenly matched with the conventionally powered racers. Joe Leonard was leading the race during a late caution flag. When the green flag was given, the car hesitated and instantly slowed having suffered a snapped fuel pump drive shaft with just 9 laps to go. Bobby Unser (who really had the faster car on race day) went on to win his first 500.

This print depicts the #60 Lotus 56 car driven by Joe Leonard as it appeared during its record-breaking qualifying run.