The Lotus 56 was a four-wheel driven gas turbine race car that was built by the British Motor Sport Team Lotus in 1968.
The Lotus 56 was developed in 1968 to replace the Lotus 38 with which Jim Clark won the 1965 500-mile race at Indianapolis. Chief designer Maurice Philippe created an innovative race car in extreme wedge shape, that of a Pratt & Whitney ST6 gas turbine powered. So that the thrust of the gas turbine could be brought to the ground, the received 56 also has a four-wheel drive.
The first tests with Jim Clark at the wheel were successful, but Clark was killed in the spring of 1968 with the Lotus 48 in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim fatal. Substitute Mike Spence was killed during qualifying for the 500-mile race with the 56 fatal. He lost control of the car, pounded into the concrete wall of the track barrier and was struck then by his right front wheel at the helm. A few hours later he died in the hospital his severe head injuries. For the race, announced Lotus Graham Hill, Joe Leonard and Art Pollard.
In training, the turbine was driven only 80% of the possible performance. The pilots had to brake hard in front of each of the curves to the turbine when you release the pedal could spool up to full power again. Through this process was on the line the full turbine output can be called and the delayed response of the turbine could be prevented. Joe Leonard presented with an average speed of 274.49km/h its 56 promptly to the Pole Position. In the race had to be dispensed with this trick because the brakes had led before the curves to unrhythmischem driving and the brake discs have this also 200 rounds not persevered. Before the race, but strong criticism of the turbine car was loud. Aircraft engines should not replace conventional piston engines. Therefore, the officials insisted that the three Lotus had to start with normal premium gasoline and not specific to the Were allowed to fall back jet fuel. The reduced power and delay of the turbine in heavy traffic slowed down the three Lotus a sustainable manner. Although Joe Leonard went briefly into the lead, but all three cars fell out with defects. Leonard but was counted in twelfth and Pollard as 13 The United States Automobile Club in 1969 forbade both turbines and four-wheel drive and the Lotus 56 was not developed any further.
Colin Chapman took over the wheel drive technology in the Lotus 63 and had converted the Indy replacement car for the Formula 1. The car came in 1971 with some races used. Emerson Fittipaldi drove the car in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. In training Fittipaldi drove in the rain superior best. In the race, this time on a dry track, the Brazilian did not get beyond a mid-table. The second Lotus factory driver Dave Walker drove the car at the Grand Prix the Netherlands in Zandvoort. Walker had been driven up from 22 to tenth place when he ran off the track and had to retire. Fittipaldi drove the 56 or the Grand Prix of Italy, where he finished eighth, and in a Formula 5000 race at Hockenheim, which he finished in second place behind Frank Gardner. Then Chapman work on the all-wheel drive and the gas turbine finally gave up and focused on the development of the Lotus 72