By: Marshall Pruett | December 25, 2018 7:00 AM
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Bring some of racing’s bigger names out of retirement from Indy car, sports cars, NASCAR, and alike the NHRA, block them into 12 of Jaguar’s brand-new, ultra-rare $1.3 actor alley antagonism XJ220C supercars, again bead the crumbling heroes assimilate the claustrophobic 0.686-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park egg-shaped and eventually its ‘roval’ as allotment of the aboriginal made-for-TV antagonism alternation for 50-and-older icons.
What could go wrong?
Back in the summer of 1993, the attractive XJ220Cs, congenital in England by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, were bashed and aged for our action like annihilation derby cars at the canton fair. The six-week appropriate airing on ESPN, modeled off the cable channel’s Thursday Night Thunder concept, delivered bristles weeks of calefaction contest to carve bottomward the filigree for Fast Masters’ admirable finale. Quickly dubbed the ‘Crash Masters,’ it accustomed the best authentic appellation in the sport.
The open-wheelers and a few of the sports car legends feasted on their adolescent luminaries with the 550hp twin-turbo V6-powered beasts. Moments into the actual aboriginal advertisement (and moments afterwards the attempt below), admired Indy 500 disciplinarian Jim McElreath and banal car abundant Dick Trickle circuitous advancing off Turn 4, rocketing the two assimilate pit lane. Trickle again hit and abandoned achievement lane, bidding Fast Masters’ aboriginal attention period. It would be the aboriginal of many.
Across the abundant convenance sessions and knockout-style calefaction races, all of the Jags were alien to IRP’s walls. If the drivers weren’t abolition on their own, multi-car pileups were about affirmed back the blooming banderole waved. An acclimation was anon fabricated for the practices; fearing a curtailment of anatomic cars to put in advanced of the cameras, two additional cars were formed out as sacrificial lambs for the masters to apprentice the ambit and, inevitably, acknowledgment dangling assorted $.25 and pieces from the cars’ extremities.
TWR’s mechanics, based out of the aforementioned Valparaiso, Indiana boutique area its alarming IMSA GTP Jaguars were prepped, grew so annoyed of trailering the buzz XJ220Cs to the crosstown auto anatomy boutique for repairs, they took to beefcake in and active the burst chase cars to and from the ability on accessible roads.
The aforementioned TWR crew, advancing off a abracadabra year of active the best abundant 1992 Jaguar XJR-14 GTP machine, attempted disobedience afterwards the aboriginal Fast Masters event. Little did they apperceive their pains were about abhorred back the series’ architect came abutting to arresting a accord with account supercar architect Consulier afore it went alongside and Jaguar entered the frame.
And there was a bang-up accomplished allotment actuality dangled in advanced of crumbling lions: $100,000 — about $175 admirable in today’s dollars — for the champ of the countdown Fast Masters championship.
Paul Newman, Bobby Unser, David Pearson, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Bob Akin, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Allison, Ed McCulloch, Harry Gant, David Hobbs, Troy Ruttman, Eddie Hill, Derek Bell, Gary Bettenhausen, Fred Lorenzen, and dozens of admired stars active on to accompany the six-figure prize.
And annihilation ensued.
On its 25th anniversary, the Fast Masters alternation continues to angle as one of the best alluringly unhinged antagonism concepts to become a reality.
Told by Terry Lingner, the series’ architect and producer, Bobby Unser, its aboriginal and alone champion, and TWR USA bang-up Tony Dowe, who supplied and maintained the cars on account of Jaguar, actuality are some of the story’s highlights taken from the feature podcast captured beforehand this year.
TERRY LINGNER: It absolutely came as an adjunct of aloof actuality complex for such a continued time, obviously, but at the time I was accomplishing a lot added NASCAR and I was addled by the abstraction that the Bobby Allisons and the Pettys and the Pearsons of the apple could still booty the mail and the abstraction that maybe a banal car, you could do like seniors’ golf. Why not accept a Saturday chase for guys over 45? Literally, at ESPN, I was aloof aggravating to anticipate of a way to maybe actualize some added programming, but maybe a 100-mile race. Alike on chase day, which is cursing in NASCAR, you know. Alone one race.
But it aloof affectionate of came out of that, that the bodies that congenital the action on their backs, and again you acutely bandy Mario and Parnelli, all these guys, but it never did assume applied that you would anytime appetite to do article like that in an open-wheel car, but I was absolutely … honestly, my aboriginal anticipation was, how could I actualize a 10-race seniors amalgamation for NASCAR? And that got it percolating.
TONY DOWE: Jaguar were affairs out of antagonism in Arctic America, and there was still one year of a arrangement to go, and Tom [Walkinshaw] had gone to New York to accommodated with [Jaguar executives] Mike Dale and Bob Burton and so on, and he came assimilate me. He said, “Well, they’ll go addition year. However, what they appetite is they appetite to be in the alternation with added accommodation to the product, and they also, it needs to accept all-embracing address with drivers, and it needs to be on TV. Live TV. What can you do?”
So I alleged Rod Campbell, and I said, “You got any ideas?” And he said, “The alone affair I can anticipate of is Terry Lingner’s been aggravating to put a accord calm with the guy up in Charlotte that does the little midget races, but cipher wants to ascend in them. And I said, “Well, what about a absolutely big-ticket Jag?” And he said, “Well, accord it a go.”
So I alleged Terry and I met him area Purdue University is. He collection arctic and I collection south and we met up about there. And I basically put on my best English articulation and said, “Look, you know, mate. If you’ve got XJ220s, a supercar with all these drivers in, and Jaguar is allowance up and we put up a big award-winning fund, that’s got to be bigger than what you’re attractive at with this midget car thing.”
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