Photos and Restorations

Mirage M12 Le Mans Build

This page will concern the building of Mirage M12 001 which was to continue the legacy of Mirage race cars competing at Le Mans. The car was built in 1982 at Grand Touring Cars in Scottsdale, Az. and driven by Mario Andretti and a very young and talented Michael Andretti! An intensive effort was put into building this car and considering that it arrived late from the chassis manufacturer in England it's actuall quite amazing that it got finished in time. A second chassis that was supposed to be built for the event came much to late to be completed for Le Mans. The effort was orchestrated by Harley Cluxton lll who was the principle at Grand Touring Cars in Scottsdale, Az. The team manager was Le Mans veteran John Horsman who was none other than the great John Wyer's right hand man and a fantastic talent in his own right. The crew chief was another experienced gent by the name of John Mueller who attended to directing the day to day activities in the shop.

The pace to get the car done, take it to Lockheed's Wind Tunnel in Marietta, Georgia for testing as well as perform a little bit of track testing was fast and furious to say the least...not to mention getting the car and everything else required for the race at Le Mans prepped and shipped on time. This whole process was accomplished in approximately Six Months!

I hope you enjoy the photos and commentary and please contact me if you have any questions or comments!


 


Having a bit of a lunch break!


Here's a shot of the tub with the cowling on it. The little bit of fiberglass that you see at the cowl's leading edge was added by me as a flange to help keep it place and spread the load. Although I signed on as a mechanic, I was chiefly employed as a body fitter/fabricator largely due to my past experience with working with fiberglass. This car brought many opportunities for expanding my experience as I dealt with not only fiberglass but aluminum honeycomb, kevlar and that new fangled stuff called carbon fiber as well!


A good shot of John Horsman inspecting the operation of the rear anti roll bar blade.


The office! This seat was made by Mario and me using a two part foam system. As he sat in his driver's suit on top of two large lawn bags I poured in the liquid foam mixture. He then had to remain in the seat until the foam hardened which took about 30 to 45 minutes. After setting up the plastic was ripped off of the foam seat and and then trimmed with a hack saw blade. When I was doing that Mario asked if I had another blade so he could help as he said "I know were the bumps are"! The seat was then sent out to be upholstered and here's the finished product! I have a couple of other stories regarding this seat, but maybe I'll leave them for later!








The Ford DFL normally aspirated engine. One of the things that made this engine special is that it had a 180 degree crankshaft flat plane crankshaft and boy did it have a wonderful sound!


Getting ready for the first test run on the airport runway. GTC was located at the Scottsdale, Az. airpark...very convenient!


I find it to be amazing that in so many of these pictures there's always a shot of one guy working, (see that guy by the open car door there!) and so many people standing around!!!




The ground effect tunnels that produce incredible downforce!


Mirage and my trusty toolbox to the side of it. I was the only one of the crew that brought a full kit with him and it became somewhat of a communtiy toolbox, much to my chagrin.






Direct from the UK, "Lil' Robin" a very talented man who worked for John Horsman and John Wyer prior to coming over here to assist on this car.


Back in the corner I'm working on fiberglass and body parts as it's getting down to crunch time and so many things needed to get finished. My last day of work at GTC was actually a day and a half...36 hours straight! When the crew came in the morning to get everything loaded up for the trip to Le Mans we went for breakfast at the local airport restaurant...they had the usual fare while I opted for Heuvos Rancheros and Budweiser...after all, my day was done!!!


Going back a bit when the car was first tested Vern Schuppan did the driving duties.


Bending over the left front corner of the car is John Mueller, crew chief on the project.




Nice view of the engine and rear suspension. Notice the rear anti roll bar and blades as well as the upper control arms. Also note that the shocks and springs actually go into the bellhousing!


This was the GTC transporter which was brought over from Europe years before this project. When the car was to be tested at Lockheed's wind tunnel there were a couple of young crew members scheduled to drive this vehicle there with the car. Mr. Cluxton was a bit concerned and was looking for someone a bit more mature to go with them and I suggested my Dad who was retired and a veteran of very many road trips across the country. Mr. Cluxton agreed and it was a kick for him to go on this trip and a special for me to work with him on this project!