Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell at speed
Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell at speed

1973 Canadian Grand Prix – Race Profile

Race day was heavily overcast with periodic rain resulting in a wet start. It was an era of racing when many of the cars were of comparable quality with a good deal more on-track passing than in recent decades. The 80-lap event proceeded smoothly as the track dried and the rain held off until lap 32 when Francois Cevert’s Tyrrell 006 and Jody Scheckter’s McLaren M23 tangled and struck the Armco with significant force. Unknown to Cevert at the time, Scheckter had been signed to be his teammate with Tyrrell for the following season. Sadly, it was also Cevert’s final Grand Prix since he was fatally injured in practice at the next Grand Prix in Watkins Glen.

That accident brought about the first use of a safety car in Formula 1 and former driver Eppie Wietzes became the first safety car driver.

Unfortunately, he picked up the Williams of Howden Ganley, who was not the leader, throwing the scoring of the event into chaos. Several of the racers, including eventual winner, Peter Revson, were believed to have gained almost a full lap on the rest of the field based on the safety car mistake.

We, along with the rest of the crowd around us, had no real sense of who was the leader and after the finish, we assumed Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus had one since on his cool off lap he was waving and saluting the crowd and track marshals. It was initially announced that Howden Ganley had won for Williams, which would have been that marque’s first Formula One victory; but he declined the honor saying he knew he hadn’t been the winner.

Extensive scoring checks resulted in Peter Revson being declared the winner after much of the crowd had left the circuit for the multi-hour traffic snarl to try to get back to a highway major enough to get away from the area. It was my first and last traffic jam that would take three hours to crawl two miles.

In addition to the first use of a safety car, the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix was the first Grand Prix in which a car #0 raced, the third McLaren of Jody Scheckter.

It was the first year on the Grand Prix circuit for several constructors including Williams, Shadow, and Ensign.

It was the first season for future champion James Hunt and the one and only driver from Lichtenstein, Rikky Von Opel.

It was the final Grand Prix race for Cevert and Jackie Stewart, who had not announced it; but planned to retire at the end of the season. After Cevert’s crash, the Tyrrells were withdrawn from the Watkins Glen event.

Before the Canadian Grand Prix, Tyrrell had held a slight constructors point lead over Lotus and had brought Chris Amon in a third car to try to gain additional points. The effort failed and Emerson Fittipaldi’s runner-up finish moved Lotus into the lead which they held when Tyrrell did not compete in the final event at Watkins Glen.

It was the last of two Grand Prix wins by Peter Revson and to date, the last Formula win by an American-born driver (remember Mario was born in Italy).

Canada 1973 was the last podium finish by Grand Prix veteran Jackie Oliver and it was the last season that George Follmer competed in Formula One.

With the wet conditions and safety car the race was the slowest/longest of 1973 taking 1:59.04 to finish and almost as long to figure out who was the winner.

Of the 25 drivers who competed at Mosport, by the end of the next season, 12 had competed in their last Grand Prix event.

1973 Canadian Grand Prix – Sunday Race Photo Gallery

[Source: Al Wolford]

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Show Comments (9)

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  1. I remember that race. Jackie Stewart was first out. I mentioned the fog to him years later, and he was surprised someone would remember that .

  2. My recollection was that it was a Hesketh; but everywhere I looked while researching to refresh my memory from that long ago it was shown as a March 731-Ford entered by Hesketh.

    Al Wolford

    1. It was a Hesketh entered March (chassis 731/2-2); Hesketh did not run their own cars (i.e. ‘Heskeths’) until the following season.

  3. What I most distinctly recall, other than the shambles at the end of the race, was the drive of a certain Mr. Lauda in the BRM handily leading the pack in wet conditions at the start and for the first 20 or so laps. A few of us turned to one another and remarked that the lad had promise……

  4. James Hunt did, in fact, drive a March 73-Ford Cosworth at the 1973 Grand Prix of Canada. When Lord Hesketh capriciously jumped into F1 he bought the March, hired Harvey Postlethwaite away from the March factory to modify it so Hunt could drive it the remainder of the 1973 season. Meanwhile Harvey was beavering away on the design of the first Hesketh F1 car.

    Al, I enjoyed your photos and would like you to contact me at [email protected].

  5. I marshalled that event. I remember one year – not sure if it was ’73 – waking up in the infield with a piper playing Amazing Grace just after dawn. It took on an additional aura in the fog!