This weekend’s Eight Hours of Portimao will see the longawaited and highly anticipated debut of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, the American privateer running the 007 Le Mans Hypercar.
The debut is the culmination of a long and winding road for the father-and-son duo of Jim and Jesse Glickenhaus, both of whom are present at the Autodromo Internacional de Algarve.
Glickenhaus’ long journey into the automotive mainstream and later the world championship began in 2006 when he become involved in the creation of the one-off Ferrari P4/5 Pininfarina, a rebodied Ferrari Enzo styled to look like the Ferrari prototypes that dominated Le Mans in the 1960s.
A racing version was later built called the P4/5 Competizione, although Ferrari at this point was no longer involved and as a result, became the first car to bear the SCG name.
It was succeeded in 2015 by the HPD-powered SCG003C, which famously took pole position for the 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours.
And then, when the Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced the creation of the new Hypercar top class in 2018, Glickenhaus was arguably the first party to stick its hand up and indicate interest. However, it wasn’t until the early months of 2020 that business really began to pick up.
February 2020 – the first renders
In February of 2020, Glickenhaus went public with its first vision for what would ultimately become the 007.
The car shown in those renders is absolutely unrecognizable from what would eventually make its first appearance in Portimao. Early images showed a long, sleek bodywork without the sharkfin that it would ultimately come to feature.
Under the skin, things were different too. Initially, the plan was to have the car powered by a three liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which Glickenhaus claimed was going to be built by Alfa Romeo.
That was changed when the engine regulations changed, for which Glickenhaus pinned the blame on Aston Martin at the time. When the British manufacturer pulled the plug on its Valkyrie project later that same month, the American upstart heavily criticized them.
One thing from that early announcement has remained unchanged: the partnership with Italian firm Podium Advanced Engineering, who have been responsible for a significant amount of development on the 007.
April 2020 – Pipo Moteurs brought in
After Glickenhaus’ original engine plans fell through, it was forced to look for a replacement. It found one in French firm Pipo Moteurs, renowned for its work on rallying engines.
It settled on a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, created by combining a pair of inline-4 rally engines. This was the engine that would eventually find its way into the car making its world championship debut in Portimao.
May 2020 – regulation changes, new renders
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Glickenhaus continued work on the 007, even as the Hypercar regulations underwent changes.
Like the regulations were altered, so were the 007’s looks. New renders were released that showed a significant departure from the car that had originally had been shown.
Instead of the long, sleek bodywork presented in the early renders, the newer images showed a more conventional shape, with a sharkfin seen on LMP1 and LMP2 cars.
June 2020 – taking the leap
In June, the team finally took the big step and officially announced a two-car factory effort into both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Although the start of the season would ultimately delayed, and the team missed the first round of the season, it would ultimately make it to the WEC for its debut at Portimao.
January 2021 – speeding up
Through most of the second half of 2020, things remained relatively quiet from the American side. Development was still going on, of course, but there wasn’t as much to report.
That changed as 2020 changed into 2021 and Glickenhaus seemed to press the accelerator.
In January, the privateer made a number of significant announcement. It announced a partnership with Joest Racing to carry out operational support for the World Endurance Championship programme, while also partnering with Sauber Engineering for the aerodynamics.
It then confirmed a nine-man roster of drivers consisting of Ryan Briscoe, Gustavo Menezes, Pipo Derani, Romain Dumas, Franck Mailleux, Olivier Pla and Richard Westbrook. Westbrook, Dumas and Briscoe would eventually be selected to take part in the first race.
February 2021 – from renders to real life
After months of development, the first chassis for the 007 was finally completed in February of 2021. It then went to the Vallelunga Circuit in Italy for its first shakedown run, before going on a rigorous testing schedule that also saw the car run at Monza and Aragon.
It was not always plain sailing for the team during the testing, as the car notably crashed once during a run at Vallelunga.
It had also reached its final form, unrecognizable from the early images presented the year before. The car sported a longer nose, sharkfin and aggressive aero on the rear wing.
April 2021 – biding time
As testing continued, the team pumped the brakes somewhat as it headed towards its race debut. It opted to skip the opening round of the season in Spa-Francorchamps in order to continue testing.
“We’ve always said we’ll begin racing when we’re ready to race,” it wrote on social media at the time. “The WEC has known that we weren’t heading to Spa for a long time.
“They know everything about our car including how fast it is and how fast it will be at Le Mans. Nothing is new. Nothing is news and all remains good.”
May 2021 – final form
In May, Glickenhaus began final preparations for the debut of its 007 Hypercar at Portimao.
It passed the aero homologation test and completed a 30-hour endurance test at Aragon, suffering only one significant reliability issue.
It was also seen in its full colours for the first time, as the #709 chassis, which is racing at Portimao, completed its shakedown in the red-and-white livery that it has previously sported on renders.
The #708 chassis, meanwhile, made its first notable public apperance with a parade lap ahead of the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
June 2021 – debut at last
Glickenhaus’ long and ardous road to the FIA World Endurance Championship was finally completed in June 2021, some three years after its first announcement and well over a year since it presented the first renders to the world.
Speaking to MotorsportWeek.com in the paddock in Portimao, standing in front of his very own Le Mans Hypercar, Jim Glickenhaus explained what it all meant to him.
“It’s very emotional,” he said. “I mean, you know, this sort of started with a sketch on a napkin. We went through the whole fiasco with Aston Martin and saying, we’re going to join with the Valkyrie, and that which changed all of the rules. And then withdrawing which changed it back.
“I mean, originally, we were going to be powered by Alfa Romeo. And then we had to search and find a new engine supplier, we were very happy to [connect] Pipo [Moteurs], they had developed the world rally engine that won many championships.
“So we took two of their four cylinder, World Rally motors, put them in a common block, 3.5 liter, twin turbo flat crank, and the motor sounds wonderful. It has that heavy metal rumble. But it also sends us with a flat, clean frame, like a Formula One car from the 80s.
“And, you know, I’ve been working with Podium for wow, 11 years. And they’ve done all the engineering of our road cars. And they’re doing the engineering that will convert our Baja race truck into a road vehicle.
“So it’s very emotional to be here. And I just think it’s so important that these cars look different than they look interesting. And the fans seem to react. I mean, we’ve had shocking numbers, 21.5 million social media interactions since January. And I think we’ll get a couple of million this weekend. And that’s what’s going to keep this all going. And, you know, we got a sponsor last night, I were talking to a really huge sponsor for the future.
“We’re going to keep racing. But I think everybody has to realize that it’s not just Jim racing anymore. As a company, I have employees, I have shareholders for building road legal cars.”
“And our racing has to directly sell our road cars. And so this year, it’s going to, we’re going to pick and choose but we’re going to keep going.”