When the checkered flag fell on June 12 at the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the world’s most prestigious endurance race – the two 007 LMH hypercars of New York-based Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus were third and fourth overall, behind only two Toyota GR010 hybrid team vehicles.
SCG was the first American manufacturer to step onto the overall winner’s podium since the 1960s and the heyday of the Ford versus Ferrari competitions. But the American upstart at the time was Ford, one of the legendary Big Three with a huge budget and a phalanx of engineers. And SCG is the first American privateer to enter the winner’s circle.
“Toyota has the best engineers money can buy, the most resources,” said Jesse Glickenhaus, chief executive of SCG. “The company spends $1 million per hour on R&D. If they knew what our budget for Le Mans is, they would cry.
The company, which has 12 employees, operates out of a former beverage warehouse in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and a factory in Danbury, Conn. For Le Mans, with partners, a core team of 80 people was formed.
SCG is a family business run by Jesse’s father, Jim, a film producer and director, financier and classic car collector.
Jesse Glickenhaus tells penta that his father dreamed of Le Mans “all his life”, and has been preparing for it since maybe 2006. That’s when SCG unveiled the P4/5 at Pebble Beach.
“I turned to my dad and said, ‘What happens next?'” Glickenhaus says. “And he said, ‘Now we’re building the racing version. “” Hence the P4 / 5 Competizione, which raced in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. It took some time to find the right class and car for Le Mans, but the team was ready for this event in 2021, and both cars finished the race, with fourth and fifth place finishes. But third in 2022, SCG is on the podium.
Jim Glickenhaus was interviewed by phone from the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, where team car #709 was on display. It also heads to Pebble Beach in August. “We’re going to bring it back all dirty and rubbery,” he said.
For Jim Glickenhaus, “It was an incredibly emotional moment for a guy whose heroes are [race drivers such as]
Jim Hall, Briggs Cunningham and Carroll Shelby. To stand in the rain and see the car go down the Mulsanne straight was indescribable.
Glickenhaus said SCG “uses racing to develop our road cars. We test them at Le Mans, the Nürburgring and the Baja 1000.” The latter is an annual off-road race held in Mexico’s Baja California, and SCG builds its rugged racing boots there.The Danbury factory also makes racing hypercars, like the $2.5 million, 700 horsepower, 230 mph SCG 003S.
The 2022 Le Mans race was a tough race. Car #708 flipped into the wall, requiring a quick pit stop to replace the rear suspension and other parts. This dropped the car from third to 19th, but fought back to fourth. As if that weren’t enough, Jesse Glickenhaus says both cars suffered from faulty military-spec wiring harnesses that caused sporadic misfiring in one cylinder.
This malfunction meant the cars could not go full throttle. “We diagnosed the problem and came up with an engine mapping solution to account for misfires and special driving procedures to switch to different engine maps,” says Glickenhaus. “We couldn’t run at full power all the time because we wanted to finish the race and with the misfires we didn’t want to stress the engines. This dictated a slightly more conservative strategy. We’re cautious, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve completed every 24-hour race we’ve entered.
The plan worked, and not only did both cars finish, but one, the #709, with drivers Ryan Briscoe (Australia), Richard Westbrook (UK) and Franck Mailleux (France), made it onto the podium. Autoweek said: “The biggest, and perhaps only surprise, was that American privateer Glickenhaus 007 put on a spectacular run.”
Given Jim Glickenhaus’ film producing, writing, and directing history, maybe a Le Mans movie is in his future? After all, Steve McQueen starred in a (Le Mans, 1971) – and also made it a personal project. “In 50 years, Glickenhaus versus Toyota will be the new Ford versus Ferrariexplains Jesse Glickenhaus.
Next year it could be Glickenhaus versus Ferrarias the Italian automaker is planning a return to the 24 Hours.