Ever wish you could just build your own race car and start a racing team? James Glickenhaus did and turned his wish into reality. I’ve been following the name Glickenhaus since 2005, when it became public that someone had commissioned Pininfarina to design a one-off body to be built on the Ferrari Enzo chassis. This car, of course, became known as the epic Ferrari P4/5 whose design pays tribute to the Ferrari P Series racers of the 1960′s.
Well a few years later James decided that while having your own custom built “fuori-classe” was great and all – the pinnacle for most car collectors – he wanted to take this homage to the gentlemen racers of the 60′s a step further and build his own race car. Enter the P4/5 Competizione – a purpose built, all-out racer, to compete in the FIA GT2 class. While not an “official” Ferrari, the gorgeous body from the P4/5 road car was handsomely re-interpreted to fit over the Ferrari 430 Scuderia chassis and raced under the newly badged Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, Jim’s family name.
Having just completed the race at VLN-Nurburgring two weeks ago, finishing in a respectable 14th overall and second in its class, I thought I’d post a question on the P4/5 Facebook page asking if the car would be attending this year’s Concorso d’Elganza at Villa d’Este. At the same time, I thought why not try to add James as friend as well, bad FB etiquette aside. To my surprise I got a response to both my question and request, “Yes” and “accepted”. So then I thought why not use this opportunity to ask James personally if he’d be up for an informal interview, answering a few questions at some point during the show. A shot in the dark, I know, especially seeking out someone with so much on his plate right now. Well, a few days before the show I got a reply, “An interview at Villa d’Este would be fine. Best.”
Without further ado, my interview with James Glickenhaus at Villa d’Este:
James Glickenhaus: Thank you.
NL: As a race team owner, who from the past do you draw most inspiration from?
JG: I would say Mr. Chinetti of North American Racing Team.
NL: The first Ferrari dealer in the States as well…
JG: Yes. He was a very nice gentleman. When I was a little boy he would let me go into his showroom and workshops. I would watch them work on cars and he’d let me sit in the racing cars. He really inspired me as a privateer.
NL: Did Ferrari’s lack of support with the P4/5 Competizione have anything to do with choosing the 430 chassis instead of using the Enzo’s again…
JG: No, no, no. The 430 Scuderia chassis was required because of the homologation rules of GT racing. The Enzo chassis would not have been legal because it’s carbon fibre, also the V12 engine would be very fuel inefficient for endurance racing. So that was a purely…
NL: So that was decided from the get-go…
JG: Ya, that was decided. That had nothing to do [with Ferrari]. As I went on and got a little annoyed with the lack of support and the lack of spares I decided to it completely on our own. we build the engines ourselves, we make parts… but there’s no animosity or problem that I have with Ferrari, they, they came and saw the car yesterday. They were very complimentary and ah, you know I think on the internet people would assume there’s this giant war but in truth there’s no problem.
NL: What do you think were their reasons for distancing themselves?
JG: Oh it had nothing…they didn’t distance themselves. They were worried about the trademark. They just want to protect their trademark and they were afraid that people would assume that Ferrari had made the car as an official car or something. We argued about that a little bit but it wasn’t a problem. If I wanted to I could have have a Ferrari badge on the car but I just decided life’s too short and put my own badge on it.
NL: How did your drivers come together?
JG: We looked for, you know, experience, guys who knew the ring and guys who would bring it home in one piece.
NL: Ya, you have guys with ex-Formula 1 experience in…
JG: …Yes and DTM and Touring car and they’re just very experienced and they’re frankly a little older which ah, I think they’ll be a little more careful to try to make it work and come home.
NL: I understand you guys use the Pirelli data acquisition systems for data and now with two races under your belt, what are your expectations for the 24 hours of Nurburgring?
JG: Well ah, Pirelli has been a very helpful sponsor. We work with them, develop the tyres. Ahmm, this is their GT2 racing tyre. They have been a tremendous help and ah, you know, we hope that we’ll finish the race and it’s not impossible… we could be somewhat competitive, come in the top 15, 10…
something like that.
NL: Going to my last question… there’s a quote I like, “if there’s anything worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. What then for you is the minimum amount of competitiveness that you require to continue on this racing venture?
JG: Ahmm, I think we’ve reached it. I think finishing ninth overall at the VLN race was quite an achievement. You know we were penalized for missing the yellow [flag] but I think we’ve done well and I think that if we finish the two-four we’ll be very happy and maybe we’ll continue racing next year.
NL: Fantastic. Welp, best of luck at the Nurburgring.
JG: Thank you very much.
You know what’s most common in just about any car guy, no matter the background, is how willing he is to talk about his car(s) and share his experiences with you. James Glickenhaus is definitely that type of car guy. However, for his venture in racing and his open willingness to share his story along the way makes him much more than just a ‘car guy’, he’s a gentleman racer in every sense of the word.
Mr. Glickenhaus, my hat’s off to you!