Last week, we brought you our thoughts on the new Ron Howard film ‘Rush.’ (Spoiler: it was damn good) Our friends at Lime Rock Park were kind enough to invite us to watch it with them at a theater in Danbury, CT. The reception for the screening was at Highcroft racing (the people that helped build this), who happened to have on-hand the actual F1 car driven by James Hunt in the 1976 season.
Quite literally the first thing you see when pulling into Highcroft is the McLaren M23 Formula 1 car driven famously by James Hunt in the 1976 F1 season. And that was just the start of the automotive treats.
Spinning on a turn style was the Lola EX257, which Highcroft campaigned in the 2006 (?) ALMS season. This vehicle finished third at Petit LeMans that year.
The same year that Lauda and Hunt were battling out the 1976 Formula 1 championship this McLaren-built F2 racer was being campaigned by a privateer team in the sub-F1 feeder series.
This No. 27 car was driven by Jaques Villeneuve to at first place finish in the 1995 Indianapolis 500.
But the true star of the pre-screening reception was the McLaren M23 driven by James Hunt in the 1976 Formula 1 season.
It is powered by a Ford Cosworth V8, and the two most surprising elements are that its color is something of a day-glow orange…and that it is smaller than one would expect.
Its presence only heightened the anticipation for the movie, and also shed some light on the danger of the sport. There is not a whole lot of protection for the driver, who is surrounded by fuel tanks and an internal combustion engine. It really did take a special breed to race in that era.