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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 36: Favorite Indianapolis 8 Hour Manufacturer?

Today’s question: Some of the most famous and evocative car manufacturers, including Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, will compete Oct. 15-17 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course during the Indianapolis 8 Hour for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli. Which of these automotive brands is your favorite?

Curt Cavin: I always favor Porsche, but given the choices in this field, I must choose Ferrari (with particular interest in the 550 Maranello). A personal tour of the Ferrari factory in Maranello in 2002 remains one of the highlights of my professional career. Seeing Enzo Ferrari’s office in the quaint three-story white building – red shutters, yellow Ferrari flag – where Michael Schumacher stayed during test days at the Fiorano circuit is etched in my memory. By the way, the house bears No. 27, an iconic number preferred by the great Gilles Villeneuve. Getting to know Schumacher over the years and watching the sea of tifosi dressed in red go crazy for the home team’s 1-2 finish at Monza was as good as it gets for me.

Zach Horrall: I have an affinity for the McLaren brand and the sports cars they produce, which is why I’m excited to see them on track next month in the Indianapolis 8 Hour. McLaren feels like a race team first and a sports car brand second, and for me, that’s what makes them cool. Bruce McLaren started his race team in 1963, but it wasn’t until 1992 that McLaren released its first car, the McLaren F1. Then, the company didn’t release another car until 2010. Their sports cars are even assembled in the same Woking headquarters where their F1 cars are produced. The brand known for papaya orange feels fast, prestigious and, most importantly, modern.

Paul Kelly: Well, Curt, it’s pretty hard to compete with that mike drop of an answer. (Should we call it a pen drop, since we’re writers?) I’m pretty handy with a BMW Z4 in a lot of racing video games, but I will turn to another German marque for my answer – Porsche. I worked with the German manufacturer during in sports car racing from 2014-16 between my two stints at INDYCAR and IMS, and I was beyond impressed. The attention to detail on performance and precision engineering – and the quiet, Germanic passion for excellence – from everyone at Porsche was so impressive. Porsche reminds me of the late, great drummer Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones: There’s nothing excessive or flashy, but everything that you need to kick ass is there. I know every sports car brand probably has the same qualities, but I witnessed it first-hand with Porsche, and that continues to resonate with me.

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