Fifty years from now, when a retired journalist writes a book about Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and the SCG 003, it will be the tale of David and Goliath full of nice pictures and adjectives like ‘legendary’ and ‘astonishing’. And it won’t be far off the truth.
If you’re a regular Jalopnik reader, you must be familiar with James Glickenhaus by now, but in case you have no idea how he ended up on the starting grid of the Nürburgring 24 Hours with a car built by his own team, here’s a crash course on his recent adventures. But it’s even better if you read what he had to say about his racing efforts before the SCG 003 came to life:
After Ferrari P 4/5 by Pininfarina Paolo (SCG’s Program Director) and I turned to a race version that became P 4/5 Competizione. That, too, was an amazing experience, and I must say that real racing is a lot different than bench racing or racing on Internet forums.
Eventually we fit KERS and that, too, was an amazing experience. KERS works best in short bursts to provide torque until the petrol engine can rev into it’s torque range. At the ‘Ring we were able to make 50 seconds of 50 horsepower by recovering energy that otherwise would be turned into heat by braking the rear wheels. Eventually we used GPS to trigger the system for a four second burst on the next full throttle application after hard braking and coming out of a turn. Year over year we were 15 seconds a lap faster. We Won the FIA Alternate Cup and I was happy that the next group of Hypercars (P1/La Ferrari/918) would use KERS and be eligible to race us.
It was at that point that Glickenhaus realized that, while he wanted to race against the best of the established manufacturers, he was never going to be able to actually see them in competition.
Automakers like Ferrari, McLaren, Koenigsegg and Pagani were never going to race in true anger, even if Maranello keeps the cash flowing by putting kamikaze gentleman drivers behind the wheels of their GT3-spec 458s. Glickenhaus continues:
What if I stepped back? Simpler. Lighter. Smaller? Could it be that “less is really more?” That’s what our new road car is going to be. Lighter, smaller, simpler and very beautiful. Our goals are similar HP/LB to my P 3/4 and something that is a new, forward design where it’s three wing are integrated into the form as a Porsche 959′s rear wing is.
I’m calling it 003 as it’s our third one-off and it will have three integrated wings. It will be Dino Competizione sized. We’re thinking carbon fiber tub, a twin-turbo V6 and a very sexy shape. Paolo will be heading up the team again, and my long time friend and chief mechanic Sal Barone will be making sure it all works, and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and its associates will be designing, engineering and building 003. 003 will be badged as an SCG, as is P 4/5 Competizione. From the day I took the Ferrari Badge off of P 4/5 Competizione (something viewed by millions of people on our Facebook site) I haven’t looked back.
All of this was less then two years ago, and considering that the SCG 003 was supposed to use the Alfa Romeo 4C’s carbon fiber tub and be powered by a twin-turbo Maserati engine, it’s bonkers that they went full monty with it and created a race-ready car with a Honda TTV6 in just about 15 months from the first sketches to an FIA-approved Batmobile.
Glickenhaus is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, but he is also a stubborn motherfucker with a certain attitude. Of course, having a strong opinion is a good thing in this business, especially if you want to beat everybody playing at the highest levels of motor racing.
While the name Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus might be relatively new to people, it hides a carefully selected team of Italians with decades of experience in engineering, car design and motor racing.
Paolo Garella is the main man behind SCG. He used to be Pininfarina’s Prototype Manager working on Brunei Special Projects before going freelance, which he started by creating the new Lancia Stratos for German entrepreneur Michael Stoschek. A car that handles pretty well.
The rest of the team has an equally impressive résumé, and, more importantly, they work together so well by now that instead of being a rush job, the two SCG 003Cs were ready for their first big showdown long before the race. That was hardly the case back in the days of the P 4/5 Competizione, which means Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has grown up.
The cowboy from New York making this happen might “look like everyone’s dad visiting the Grand Canyon” according to our resident US Navy nut Michael Ballaban, but he is a father of two who has certain thoughts crossing his mind while looking at the famous gates of Ferrari.
Mostly about how the brand that is so close to his heart is too chicken to race anywhere nowadays apart from F1, and how they certainly wouldn’t go near the Nürburgring 24. Or about how the same applies to McLaren, the company that was started by a hardworking and very brave race car driver from New Zealand called Bruce. He looks at these companies now and sees their fastest cars, the McLaren P1 GTRs and the Ferrari FXX Ks designed from the ground up to be limited edition track toys, and track toys only. Money makers that couldn’t even be turned into anything the FIA would approve for racing.
And the same applies to boutique manufacturers like Pagani or Koenigsegg. The Zonda R or the Agera RS might be able to chew up the laws of physics, but you can’t drive them to a track and you can’t enter them into an endurance race either. And even if you could, how many Karussel hits would they take before throwing in the towel? We will never know, but the Glickenhaus car took one at roughly every eight and a half minutes when it wasn’t in the pits for a whole day running.
And now, five days later, it was driven to Lake Como from Turin on public roads. That’s race car building done 1960s style, and it makes all the sense it the world.
The race itself proved that the Glickenhaus way is one that enthusiasts can support. Yes, the team lost about three hours and finished 35th overall, but that was down to a faulty Honda part, not any of the thousands of parts they custom made for the car.
Everybody did an amazing job and since I stayed awake for about forty hours straight to witness the genesis of something new, I can tell you that the SCG 003C looked like nothing else on the track. I can also confirm that in the morning, James Glickenhaus’ movements back at the lounge were closer to a turtle’s than to a human’s.
He claimed he slept a few hours, but I doubt it.
Although surviving the night was a victory in itself, by the morning, it became clear that Macchinauno’s lack of electric power won’t get fixed despite their best efforts. And with Macchinadue crashing out of the picture two days before the start and the top twenty becoming impossible to catch, the question became whether Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus could finish the race at all, or go home empty handed like the odds suggested.
Sunset was sometime after five in the morning, and it was chilly out there at turn one. But that alien-looking thing was still doing its rounds.
Unfortunately, not for long.
Back at the warmth of the team’s lounge, after countless beers and double espressos, I was looking down to the pits in hope of the car’s return, but she remained in the surgery room for way too long. Fuck. These guys deserved more, and I gave them two damn Jalopnik stickers to make sure they succeeded.
Then, something amazing happened, but it wasn’t the stickers that saved the day. Rather, a small group of tired people in fireproof clothing led by Paolo and race engineer Dario Pergolini.
The job was to complete a full lap before the clock was up, but the car was pretty much done with ten minutes to go before the finish at four. So, these crazy bastards unplugged everything that could to suck up the juice, including the telemetry and the radio, set the wings so they get the least possible drag, and pushed the thing to life for that crucial last lap.
It was necessary, and a beautiful moment that said it all. No wonder many cheered for them from the other teams as well. This was pure racing, and failure was never an option.
The rest is history as they say, only it isn’t, because the N24 was only the beginning of the SCG 003’s story. A good platform should last for a decade and SCG’s car is using a rather advanced one that will allow their street car to weigh just 2,425 pounds. Pair that with 700+ horsepower and more downforce than anybody in the business, and we’re in for quite a ride.
Chris Harris will certainly drive the SCG 003 sooner than I do (if ever!), so stay tuned for that and feel free to start speculating, because there are some big plans in James Glickenhaus’ head waiting to get the financial green light.
What’s certain for now is that the road legal SCG 003S will debut this autumn.
Also, the SCG 003C completed the Nürburgring 24, the world’s toughest endurance race.
I’m so glad I was there to see it. One must love stubborn motherfuckers.
Photo credit: Robert Stokes, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Máté Petrány/Jalopnik
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