The inaugural Can-Am Challenge was part of the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which took place April 7-9, 2017. The fans who attended practice and qualifying on Friday, and the race on Saturday, were treated to the ground-shaking fury of these historic machines as they pounded the streets of this world-famous seaside circuit.
The Can-Am Challenge race, sanctioned by the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA), took place noon on Saturday, before the IMSA BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix event. This year marked the first time these powerful race cars have competed on any street circuit, unleashing the thunderous symphony of their 1000-horsepower engines.
Can-Am, short for the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, was a very popular road racing series that ran at circuits in Canada and in the United States, from 1966 to 1974. It featured race cars from Porsche, McLaren, Porsche, Shadow, Lola and several other manufacturers and teams. The list of famous and notable drivers included Mario Andretti, John Surtees, Jim Hall, Mark Donohue, Jackie Oliver, Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill.
“HMSA is thrilled to be part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, a truly iconic event with a rich motorsports tradition,” said Cris Vandagriff, president of the HMSA. “We are proud to bring the cars from what has been called the greatest series ever created, the original Can-Am. These cars were the fastest racing cars of their day and still make the earth move when they take to the track.”
Brothers Craig and Kirt Bennett drove their 1974 Shadow DN4s to a 1-2 finish at the end of Saturday’s 20-minute race. Craig finished 0.063 seconds ahead of brother, Kirt, with an average speed of 82.780 mph. Kirt clocked the fastest lap of the day with a 1:22.307 on his second lap. Claude Malette, driving a 1970 Lola T222, rounded out the top three.
Can-Am at 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Photo Gallery (photos: Victor Varela)
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