The American-made GT Malan faced off Sunday against the German Gumpert Apollo in test runs for the filming of “Battle of the Super Cars” on the SPEED Channel.
Cameraman Dave Jones, left, films Lee Reherman, the host of the show “Battle of Super Cars” on SPEED channel and Paul Tracy, the driver of a German Gumpert, a $470,000 car, on Sunday at the Bisbee-Douglas International Airport. (Beatrice Richardson • Wick News Service)
Lee Rehrman, host of the show, is in the process of shooting 13 shows for the season and has matchups all planned for the series that starts in July. “The question is: Can the $185,000 GT Malan compete effectively against the $450,000 Gumpert Apollo? Here we have American ingenuity up against German engineering.”
Foust had problems in his first runs with the wind that forced the Malan’s front end down, creating friction between the front tires and the car body. The crew went with larger, slick tires for the runs and that made a difference. Though the car maker, Alan Automotive, had provided some hydraulic lift on board to raise the front end, it wasn’t enough.
It may have been the tires or the body may not have been made symmetrical, explained Foust. The car needs to stay as low to the ground as possible for stability and speed. So, the crew went to Plan B: Grind the body down where it was making contact with the tires.
The GT Malan sports a LS7 motor that can produce 400 to 700 horsepower if infused with methanol, with ceramic-coated stainless steel exhaust, said Dr. David Alan, a Pennsylvania optometrist with a love of racing that came to watch the face-off. Engineered for high performance, the engine, suspension and brakes combine to deliver world-class speed and handling.
Right now, there are only three of these cars in the world and one is already for sale in Miami where the Malan debuted, added Alan. “We can custom build them any way you want.”
Foust told Rehrman, “It’s quite a machine. It may suffer from the high altitude, but the aerodynamics and the brute power should compensate.”
Still, if he had his choice, he would have preferred a turbo charger over the big engine, especially up against the world’s fastest production car that boasts a 427-cubic-inch engine with 700 horsepower.
“I think the wind will benefit me. The Gumpert is larger and may get some drag. But this little Malan will slip right through,” Foust said. “I drove the Gumpert and it’s a great race car, but I prefer the looks of the GT and the cost. This will really be a test of a muscle car versus a race car.”
Tanner likes to get out on the track. “It’s the one place you can put down the pedal and not worry about getting a ticket.”
After Tracy’s runs with the Gumpert, he told Rehrman, “It’s awesome. I’m excited. It’s extremely exotic, like an Italian car. It has incredible power and is easy to handle. The aerodynamics of the car helps it in winds like this.”
According to the Gumpert Web site, the high-performance, classic V8 engine produces 650 HP with a twin turbo. Weighing only 432 pounds, it plays a major role in ensuring the ideal weight and driving dynamics of Apollo. Its energy in the back wheels guarantees the fully synchronized, sequential six-speed transmission that incorporates Formula 1 know-how and ensures a low center of gravity and optimum weight distribution. The Apollo goes from 0 to 62 mph in just three seconds and only requires 8.9 seconds from 0 to 124 mph.
Film producer John Erinson explained that the “official” race would be taped at Willcox’s Inde Motorsports Ranch today. While keeping up with sound and video crews, he said the two cars would reach speeds of about 185 mph along a one-mile stretch of runway.
County facilities director L.H. Hamilton was pleased the county was selected for the show’s filming. Of course, he was happy with the exposure the county would get, but as a racing fan, he just wanted to watch the drivers hit the one mile marker at the anticipated 185 mph.
Unfortunately, the wind held speeds down to the 165 mph range as the cars went head to head in two races, according to Ellis. While the GT, hitting 175 mph, beat out the Gumpert in the mile, the Gumpert, at 165 mph, won in the drag race.
In addition to filming at BDI and Inde, the drivers will also get to drive some of the county’s rural roads on their way up to Willcox, said Barry Ellis, president of Inde.
Right now, it’s a tie, but the competition in the final shooting is sure to be a nail-biter. Most of the crowd gathered at BDI were, of course, rooting for the underdog — the American GT Malan.