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Can-Am Racing – History & Ultimate Guide

The Story. The People. The Winners

Can-Am Racing

The Canadian – American Challenge Cup (Can-Am) – The Ultimate Guide


John Bishop, Executive Director of the Sports Car Club of America as his Competition Director, Jim Kaser to look into the possibility of forming a professional sports car series, one with a more international flavor than it’s US Road Racing Championship (USRRC). Bishop wanted something that would compare with Formula 1 but for sports cars and more of an all out race rather than the endurance racing already taking place at venues such as Le Mans. In order to attract the top drivers they were realistic enough to know that the series needed to compete during the fall after the F1 season had been completed. The decision regarding an open series was typically American and one they hoped would directly challenge F1. In fact much was made of the fact that Can Am cars were faster than the Formula 1 cars on the same circuits such as at Watkins Glen, New York.

Something else that set the series apart was that there would be no appearance money paid out as in other major racing series, at least publicly. Since appearance money had to be kept private, you could not promote it, and get the public’s attention.

The unveiling of the series took place at the Time-Life building on the 15h of February, 1966. The plan was for a 5-race series over 9 weeks that included the Player’s 200 (Canada), the LA Times Grand Prix and the Monterey Grand Prix plus St Jovite and a still unfinished track in Las vegas. The minimum prize money would be $20,000 at St Jovite and $30,000 everywhere else. Each venue would also contribute to a championship prize fund. One of the drivers who was at the unveiling, Masten Gregory was asked what kid of engine he would run. To which he answered “a really big one!”

The lack of appearance money proved to be a hindrance for some drivers and one team, McLaren stated that without appearance money they would not take part. This proved rather unpopular with the US based motoring press. Privately Kaser saw that McLaren, based in England had a point and he concluded that the only solution was to find more prize money! Kaser was able to add one more race at Bridgehampton but something even more incredible was about to fall into his lap. The makers of Johnson Wax were putting all of their automotive care products under one banner, that of J/Wax and were looking at marketing opportunities. Robert T. Henkel of Carl Byoir & Associates, a leading public relations firm with the enthusiastic backing of Johnson Company chairman Sam Johnson Kaser and after a series of meetings, contracts were signed and budgets allocated for Johnson Wax to become Can-Am’s title sponsor. This was something that had never been attempted in sports marketing and it turned out to be a masterstroke. Other accessory money came along for the ride and the total prize money approached $350,000, or enough to even grab Teddy Mayer’s attention. Enough as well to catch the eye of a certain opportunistic Englishman by the name of John Surtees.

The lack of appearance money in exchange for more prize money would always favor the few top teams and most grids were filled with small teams looking for a big payday.

Canadian - American Challenge Cup

The Canadian – American Challenge Cup was a joint effort of two clubs: the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the Canadian Automobile Sports Club (CASC). It continued in its original form through 1974. In 1971, it was officially recognized by the FIA giving it international prestige. The Can-Am series began in 1966 with two races in Canada (CAN) and four races in the United States of America (AM) for what were to become known as Group 7 sports cars. These racing cars were not mass produced, but instead manufactured in small quantities or as single units. The FIA’s Group 7 regulations specified no engine capacity limit, and turbochargers and compressors were allowed. There were no other technical restrictions. In theory, all the cars needed for approval were two seats, bodywork which enclosed the wheels, and a roll hoop. They therefore came very close to creating a dream “anything goes” scenario for many race car designers. The series would foster a number of radical designs and one company that would set an American standard for innovation, Jim Hall’s Chaparral Cars, yet the series was dominated by the efficient New Zealanders at Bruce McLaren Racing.

There was still something missing. Since Johnson Wax did not own a car they were without a visual (car) or spokesperson (driver). As another sign of forward thinking J/Wax would sign Stirling Moss as the series Commissioner giving the series instant credibility, and soon the famous Englishman was everywhere, even driving the pace car of occasion!

Can-Am Winners

1966 John Surtees Team Surtees Lola T70 MK2
1967 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M6A
1968 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8A
1969 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8B
1970 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8D
1971 Peter Revson Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8F
1972 George Follmer Roger Penske Racing Porsche 917K/10
1973 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing Porsche 917K/30
1974 Jackie Oliver Phoenix Racing Organizations Shadow DN4

1966 Can-Am Season

Lola Cars International Ltd. was a racing car engineering company founded in 1958 by Eric Broadley. Lola Cars started by building small front-engined sports cars. Eric Broadley was quick to realize the sales potential for a car designed to accept a variety of production-based US engines. World Champion John Surtees, whose Team Surtees joined forces with Lola Cars to form Lola Racing Ltd as a works development and racing arm was a critical component to the Lola T70s success. Surtees honed the T70 over months of development, and in his hands it quickly proved itself capable, with a Chevy V8 in the back, of circulating British circuits faster than contemporary F1 cars. Roger Penske Racing with new driver Mark Donohue were also impressed with the Lola T70 and ordered one for their efforts. Theirs was a somewhat longer process, having received a chassis from the factor and an engine from Traco Engineering they were left to their own devices in getting the car race ready. American Dan Gurney and his All American Racers would run a Lola T70 with a Ford engine, utilizing special high-performance cylinder heads he had commissioned from Harry Weslake. Gurney’s efforts were always hampered by a lack of support from Ford as Chevrolet dominated early the early Can-Am years.

Mclaren M1AAfter a successful Tasman Series campaign Bruce McLaren was looking for new worlds to conquer. McLaren was intrigued by the cash-rich sports car races in America currently dominated by Chaparral. In 1964 he bought a Cooper-based Zerex Special from Roger Penske and powered it with an Oldsmobile V8 from Traco Engineering in California. He raced this car until his own Mclaren-Elva M1A was completed. Initially Mclaren considered offering this car to customers as well but wisely decided to farm this out to Trojan Limited in England who had previously bought the Elva sports car business. With the Mclaren M1B, Trojan was able to sell 28 examples of the car putting McLaren on a sound financial footing. McLaren would build two special versions of the M1B for the new Can-Am series, this time the cars were beefed up and powered by 5.4 litre Chevrolet V8s later bored out to 6.0 Liters putting out more than 500 hp.

Chaparral with support from General Motors would have monocoque chassis and aluminum block Chevy engines. Jim Hall would have Phil Hill as his teammate driving Chaparral 2Es.

“In those days our hero was not so much Colin Chapman – who was most people’s – but Jim Hall. There was great respect for Jim Hall. He and Bruce weren’t friends, but there was no animosity. There was real competition and underneath it was great respect.” Robin Herd – Can-Am by Pete Lyons

It looked for all the world that the new Can-Am series would be a battle between Lola, McLaren and Chaparral, at least initially. Large-bore sports cars were already racing in the United States for a number of years before the inaugural race for the new Can-Am series that was held at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St Jovite, Canada. Located 13 km south of the village of Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. The circuit in the located in the Laurentian Mountains, carved out of the rolling hillside the track is 4.26 km (2.65 mi) in length. The first two sections of the circuit were built in 1964 and extended by another mile in 1965. The extension featured long straights and included a small hill, nicknamed “the Hump”. Besides motorsports the area is famous for its winter sports.

Chaparral had been the car to beat for the last two years but the team was absent from St Jovite, their new cars, not yet ready. A crowd in access of 50,000 would see the cars that started the race on Sep 11th, 1966. Pole position was won by John Surtees driving his own Lola T70. Joining him on the 3-car front row were two red M1B McLarens driven by team owner Bruce McLaren and his co-driver Chris Amon.

1966 St JoviteSt Jovite, coming out of turn 8 on the back straight has a small hump that could cause the car to go airborne which happened to Hugh Dibley, ironically an airline pilot when his Lola flew over a fence and into a spectator area. Miraculously no one was hurt and Dibley would henceforth be famous. Anyone doing a similar feat of catching air and flipping his car was referred to as doing a “Dibley”. Shaken but not stirred, Dibley was a non-starter in the race.

Chris Amon was able to grab the lead at the start but a sticking throttle caused him to go off course further into the lap causing damage to his front bodywork. McLaren and Surtees diced back and forth while Amon came storming back through the field. Mclaren let his fellow New Zealander through and 4 laps from the finish Amon set a new lap record that beat Surtees’ best qualifying mark by over 1 second. Still try as he might Surtees was able to hold him off. The race was won by John Surtees followed by Bruce Mclaren in 2nd and Chris Amon in 3rd.

The next race was at Bridgehampton Race Circuit located near Sag Harbor, New York. The 4.95 km circuit opened in 1957, the same year as Laguna Seca Raceway. It was called it “The Bridge” and mostly the drivers that raced there loved and feared the place. No less than Stirling Moss called it the “most challenging course in America.”

The site layout featured a jaw-dropping 180-degree view of Long Island ‘s North Fork, Shelter Island, Sag Harbor and the sailboats on Peconic Bay. The circuit had four vertical elevation changes totaling 130 feet and eight distinct corners, including a banked hairpin curve around a hillock at the lowest point of the course. A flat-out straightaway nearly 3/4 of a mile long suddenly disappears into a hair-raising decreasing radius downhill curve, known as Millstone Turn. More than one international star has called this steep decline, which is blind and taken flat out in most race cars, the most difficult turn in racing. Sam Posey, for one, said that sailing off the abyss in a sports racer was like “flying into an air pocket” in a plane. Bridgehampton Racing Heritage Group

After missing the first race at St Jovite, the Chaparral 2E astounded the other participants with it’s large wing, fully two years before they appeared in Formula 1.

“The 2E was very easy to drive left foot on the brake and right foot on the go pedal. There was no clutch, just a two speed fluid torque-converter. When you weren’t braking, you kept your left foot on the fail-safe pedal. This kept the wing fiat. When you took your foot off the pedal, the wing automatically flipped to the high-downforce position. You could feel the difference immediately. It lowered the top speed by at least 25mph.” Phil Hill

Jim Hall qualified the winged wonder on pole but after a series of incidents with teammate Phil Hill’s car, Hall allowed Hill to use his car during the race. Hill would start the race from fifth. This also elevated Mclaren, Surtees and Gurney to the front row of the grid. Gurney led from the start followed by Surtees, Hill, Mclaren and Amon. Hill was able to get pass Surtees who would retire with an oil line failure. Gurney was able to maintain a steady lead but then a linkage on the wing locked the airfoil in the cornering position (high-drag) simulating a giant airbrake allowing Amon to pass and then McLaren. Dan Gurney driving a Lola-Ford T70 would win the first and last victory by a Ford engine in the entire series. Following Gurney were two McLarens driven by Chris Amon and McLaren with Phil Hill 4th.

Chaparral 2EThe series returned to Mosport Park. Canada’s first permanent motor racing facility and one of a handful of circuits to have continued in operation for more than 50 years without any layout alterations. Plans for a circuit near Bowmanville in Ontario were first proposed in 1958. By 1960 further progress had been made and a swooping 3.957 km track making the most of the countours of the land was drawn up by one of the Mosport directors, Alan Bunting. It was finally completed in May 1961, at double the original $250,000 estimate.

The first day of practice was marred by bad weather and Chaparral decided not to risk their cars or drivers. On the second day Jim Hall set the best time but the rules that year gave precedence to the first day qualifiers, somewhat similar to the rules at Indy. This put Hall 10th, Surtees 11th and Hill 12th. Others who had not set a practice time joined them at the rear of the grid.

To make matters worse the race was a standing start with Surtees leading the charge from the middle of the grid with the result that several cars came together. Both Surtees and Follmer earned trips to the hospital but beside scrapes and bruises the drivers were ok. After a restart Gurney led the opening laps before being passed by the McLarens and Denny Hulme, who at the time was driving a Lola T70 for Sidney Taylor Racing. The quartet put on a stirring display before Hulme fell back with handling problems, eventually having retired with a broken half-shaft. McLaren suffered engine trouble as did Hall, while Hill’s Chaparral suffering from low oil pressure was rammed by Amon as he tried to lap the American. Amon had to deal with wobbly steering that put him out of the race. Gurney looked set for an easy win, then his battery went flat. Donohue driving a Lola T70 took a shock win with Hill, despite having to stop for oil towards the end of the race, was able to finish a distant 2nd, Chuck Parson in 3rd.

The final three races were run in the United States at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, Riverside International Raceway in Southern California and Stardust International Raceway near Las Vegas, Nevada. Laguna Seca on the coast near Monterey. The track was built in 1957 at a cost of $1.5 million raised from local businesses and individuals on part of the US Army’s Fort Ord military base after the nearby Pebble Beach Road Races were abandoned for being too dangerous. The most famous feature of the 1.9-mile road course involves Turns 8 and 8A—or more commonly known as The Corkscrew.

The Corkscrew is a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports. Here’s what makes the hard-left, hard-right combination so spectacular: At the apex to Turn 8 (the left-hander and entry to The Corkscrew), the elevation change is a 12 percent drop. By the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the right-hander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18 percent drop. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A—the equivalent of a 5 ½ story drop—in only 450 feet of track length. From Turn 8 to Turn 9, the elevation falls 109 feet, or just over 10 stories. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The had a few more prominent names join the action, Parnelli Jones and Jackie Stewart driving a pair of John Mecom entered a pair of Lola-Fords. Both suffered engine failures with Stewart a non-starter and Jones having to “borrow” a Chevy from Penske. John Mecom was not the slightest bit amused.

“Roger … He didn’t give it to us because Roger never gave anything away”, says Mecom. “But he arranged for us to get one of his extra Chevy engines

1966 Can-AmThe Chaparrals would add endplates to their rear wings and new spoilers in front. Both of the white cars qualified on the front row with Jim Hall earning pole position. Qualifying 3rd was Bruce McLaren and next to him was Dan Gurney. The first heat ended as it began with Hill and Hall switching positions and McLaren in 3rd. The final heat had Hall leading in the early part of the heat before handing the lead over to Phil Hill. Parnelli Jones with the borrowed engine started 27th but had made it all the way up into 4th and was challenging Surtees for 3rd. Without a way past Jones made one and the two cars collided, with Surtees out with a broken suspension. Jones was still running and catching the pair of Chaparrals who let him by, knowing that they would still win the race on aggregate. Hill would take his Chaparral to victory over Jim Hall. Mecom would switch to Chevys for the rest of the year.

Riverside International Raceway was built in 1957 near Riverside, California. The track was built to accommodate several different configurations, depending on the type of car and race length. The three options on Riverside Raceway were the long course (3.27 miles (5.26 km)), the short course (2.5 miles (4.0 km)), and the NASCAR (2.62 miles (4.22 km)) course. The original racetrack had a 1.1-mile (1.8 km) backstretch from 1957 to 1968.

At the race McLaren’s car was now equipped with 5.9-litre fuel-injected Chevy engines that allowed him to grab pole and the lead only to suffer a misfire until his engine finally quit. Surtees and Hall had a tremendous duel only for the oil pressure on the Chaparral forcing Hall to accept 2nd place. Graham Hill driving another Team Surtees Lola came in third. While appearance money was not supposed to be available it was an open secret that Team Surtees ($8,000), McLaren ($6000) and AJ Foyt ($1500) were given money under the table. The final race was held at the featureless Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas. The raceway in Spring Valley featured a flat 4.8 km, 13-turn road course, and a quarter-mile drag strip. It was built in 1965 by the Stardust Hotel and Casino to attract high rollers to the hotel.

Don Chase, a Las Vegas Sun copy editor and local auto racing enthusiast who covered four of the five major auto races at Stardust for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said he didn’t recall the track being too expensive to build, probably because it opened before it was finished. Watkins Glen, which for years hosted the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race, was considered a rudimentary circuit, but Stardust made it look like the Taj Mahal of motor sports. “There weren’t grandstands, just regular bleachers, and there wasn’t a lot of paving,” Chase recalled. “There were some really marginal restrooms. But back in those days, it really wasn’t that bad for auto racing.” Las Vegas Sun

Both Chaparrals started on the front row but as always they were let down by their automatic gearboxes off the line, this being 1966. Surtees hurtled by on the inside to take the lead on the way to the championship. Bruce McLaren eventually came in second followed by Mark Donohue in 3rd. Both Chaparrals suffered broken rear wings though Hill was able to soldier on and finished 7th .

1966 can - Am“Las Vegas was quite an experience,” Surtees says. “You had to acclimatize to a sense of timelessness. The hotels doubled up as casinos, there were no clocks anywhere and there was always the same amount of interior light. When you left in the morning to go to the track you’d pass all these people playing slot machines… and in many cases they’d still be there when you came back in the evening.”

The series, at least from the spectators point of view had been a resounding success. There were three competitive marques that contested the series in it’s first year as well as a slew of smaller teams. For the winning teams the Can-Am series was a relative gold mine. Surtees would collect $70,000 in prize money, more than he would have won had he taken first place in every F1 race for the year. (F1 drivers made their money based upon appearances)

1966 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 John Surtees Team Surtees Lola T70 MK2 27
2 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing Lola T70 MK2 21
3 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M1B 20
4 Phil Hill Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2E 18
5 Jim Hall Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2E 12
6 Chris Amon Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M1B 10

1967 Can-Am Season

Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2G would have a new engine for 1967. The aluminum version of the production 427 Chevy engine produced 120-130 more horsepower then Chaparral’s previous 327 but would prove that bigger is not always better. Hall remarked that while the car with the bigger engine could “go like hell”, it felt heavier and was not as nice to driver as last year’s car. It also wasn’t very reliable, suffering a total of 11 engine failure over the course of the season. Hall would also enter the season as the solo driver for Chaparral, with the retirement of Phil Hill.

Before the 1966 season had even ended all Bruce McLaren could talk about was Jim Hall, his Chaparrals and how to beat them. Jim Hall and his wild creations, and his relationship with General Motors were looked at with a mixture of awe and inspiration by the team, an inspiration that would bring about the new McLaren M6A as a weapon to beat it’s foe. Mclaren’s choice was to build a light simple car with aerodynamics that could provide sufficient downforce without having to resort to a large rear wing so as to not be accused of simply copying the Chaparrals. By that time Robin Herd had joined McLaren from the aerospace industry, having worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) on their Concorde supersonic aircraft project. The cars unlike last year’s red would be painted orange, similar to their new sponsor, Gulf Oil. The color would soon come to be know as McLaren orange. Another important development was around the tires that McLaren would use, switching from Firestone to Goodyear, who worked closely with the team in race tire development work. This led to changes with the Mclaren suspension which was redesigned around the new wider rubber giving them a distinct road holding advantage forcing the other teams to scramble to catch up.

With Chris Amon joining Ferrari for Formula 1, Denny Hulme, another fellow New Zealander would be Bruce’s team-mate for the new season and like Bruce, Hulme had won the New Zealand Driver to Europe scholarship. When Hulme stepped from the car after some testing at Goodwood, the laconic driver could be heard to comment; “Leave it alone. I’ll race it like that.”

1967 Can-Am

Circuit Mont-Tremblant was replaced by Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin as the initial round of the Can-Am series.

In the early 1950’s, sports car races were being run on the streets in and around Elkhart Lake. When the state legislature banned racing on public roads, a man named Cliff Tufte organized a group of influential local citizens and leaders of the of the Chicago Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). This group developed plans and sold stock to build a permanent racecourse. The overall vision of Road America grew out of the dreams of Tufte, a highway engineer, who chose 525 acres of Wisconsin farmland outside the Village of Elkhart Lake for the track. Tufte’s dream became a reality in April 1955, the natural topography of the glacial Kettle Moraine area was utilized for the track, sweeping around rolling hills and plunging through ravines. By September 10, 1955, the track’s first SCCA national race weekend was held. At 4.048 miles in length, with 14 turns, the track is virtually the same today as it was when it was first laid out and is revered the world over as one of the world’s finest and most challenging road courses. Road America

1967 Can-AmIn qualifying Bruce McLaren put his car on pole when he broke the existing track record by 10 seconds! Hulme qualified 2nd with Gurney in 3rd.

On race day the 3rd of September Hulme proved true to his words, with a race victory over Mark Donohue driving the Roger Penske Lola T70 MK3B in 2nd while last year’s champion, John Surtees, also in a Lola came in 3rd. Jim Hall in the Chaparral 2G was 4th. Bruce McLaren retired out of the points due to an oil leak. Donohue was the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) champion but for him there was no comparison between series.

“The USRRC was fine, but it was like playing tennis with your wife.” Mark Donohue – Road & Track

The next race at Bridgehampton saw Hulme grab pole over his teammate with Gurney’s Lola-Ford qualifying 3rd. Behind them on the 2nd row was occupied by Jim Hall and George Follmer, Donohue’s teammate. Mario Andretti driving something called a Honker II so as not to be confused with the Honker I qualified a lowly 23rd. Hulme stormed into the lead that he held to the end even with a mid-race spin, followed by McLaren in 2nd with a pair Lola T70s in 3rd and 4th, driven by George Follmer and John Surtees respectively. Hall was done in by another engine failure. Andretti struggled home in 8th. The Honker II was actually produced by some of the same people involved in Ford’s LeMans program and was named in honor of John Holman, of Holman Moody, the car’s backers who loved the air horns of his firms trucks. Finishing just ahead of Andretti, in 7th was Italian Ludovico Scarfiotti driving a Ferrari P3/4.

1967 Can AmAt Mosport Park, Hall and his Chaparral were no shows, deciding to take his car back to Midland for more preparation. Andretti showed up for practice but the Honker II drove more like a stinker and was so woefully slow that Andretti vowed not to drive the car until it improved. Both McLarens qualified on the front row with Hulme edging out McLaren with Gurney 3rd. 4th was Mike Spence driving the ex-Amon McLaren M1B. The car was entered by the Canadian Ecurie Soucy Racing team. At the start, Hulme stormed into the lead. Bruce’s McLaren was delayed by the replacement of a leaking fuel tank, but once again the race saw a McLaren 1-2 with Hulme winning again. Hulme last couple of laps were quite eventful which included steering linkage coming loose which caused him to go off course and into the banking. After his car stopped and seeing that it was still drivable, just he continued on with a flat front tire which jammed the wheel against the body. Hulme literally had to drag the car over the starting line, forcing him to walk to the podium to collect his trophy. Gurney, who had been in 2nd suffered a clutch failure on lap 69. The surprise of the race was Mike Spence’s 3rd place driving an ex-Amon McLaren M1B.

Laguna Seca saw Bruce McLaren grab pole position with Dan Gurney qualifying 2nd. Hulme was able to qualify a trouble prone 3rd with Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2G next to him in 4th. The race was now a single race rather than the two heat affair of the previous year. Gurney was able to grab the early lead only to drop out with overheating. With the retirement of Parnelli Jones the race was again a McLaren 1-2 until Hulme’s engine let go. Bruce McLaren would go on to win the race with Jim Hall in has Chaparral 2nd followed by George Follmer in 3rd. The championship battle, if it could be called that, now had Hulme with 27 points over McLaren with 21. Hall and Follmer were tied for 3rd at 9 points each.

1967 Riverside Can-Am RaceDan Gurney, the acknowledged master of Riverside set a time on Friday that was enough to claim pole from which he led the first 3 laps only to suffer another blown engine. This put Parnelli Jones in the lead but having used up his tires he could not prevent McLaren from taking the lead followed by Jim Hall. Having to avoid a spinning back marker allowed the Chaparral into the lead. The McLaren was able to out brake the Chaparral but the Hall again passed in traffic. The Chaparral, it’s rear wing flapping furiously like a big angry bird was able to beat the orange Mclaren only to be passed at the very end losing the race by a mere 3 seconds. A lap down was Mark Donohue’s Lola T70 in 3rd. With the win McLaren was able to assume the championship lead over Hulme who’s race ended when he clouted a boundary tire that had been knocked askew by Jones earlier in the race.

1967 McLaren M6A with Denny Hulme driving

The final race at the Stardust International Raceway, Vegas had McLaren on pole with Hall along side of him. Gurney and Jones on row 2 with Hulme, who had suffered engine trouble during qualifying, and Peter Revson on row 3. Jones jumped the rolling start and burst into the lead. However before he could be penalized a gearshift linkage had failed. Hulme had to pit due to a flat tire possibly from running over some debris. Around the same time McLaren’s engine failed. Coming back into the race Hulme lapped the field and moved all the way to 4th when his engine blew up. The race was eventually won by John Surtees who passed Donohue within sight of the finish when Donohue ran out of gas causing him to drop back to 2nd with Mike Spence 3rd. Both Hall and Gurney had dropped out earlier, Hall while leading. Bruce McLaren would win the Can-Am Championship with Denny Hulme 2nd and John Surtees 3rd.

1967 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M6A 30
2 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M6A 27
3 John Surtees Team Surtees Lola T70 MK2, MK3B 16
4 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing Lola T70 MK3B 16
5 Jim Hall Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2G 15
6 Mike Spence Ecurie Soucy Racing Mclaren M1B 10

1968 Can-Am Season

The 1968 season saw Edmonton Speedway Park replace Mosport Park in Canada as the single Canadian track. Most of the teams were expecting to use the new 7-litre Chevy engines which were now generally available. All sorts of rumors swirled around what type of car Chaparral would unveil. Lola’s John Surtees was expected to have a new car. All American Racers were expecting to field a two-car team with Dan Gurney and Swede Savage. Roger Penske Racing was back to fielding a single heavily modified McLaren designated as a M6B car for Mark Donohue. Carl Haas and Shelby American Racing would field single car teams for Chuck Parsons and Peter Revson respectivly.

1968 McLaren M8A 7-litre Chevy Engine

For the opening race at Road America the McLaren Team arrived one day early with two McLaren M8As. Robin Herd had left and was replaced by Gordon Coppuck as chief designer assisted by Swiss engineer, Jo Marquardt who had worked at Lotus. The McLarens when compared to last year’s car was more evolutionary than revolutionary. The main difference in the chassis was the use of the engine as a fully structural member with a subframe attached that would hold the suspension. The engine would be the ZL1 Chevy dry sump aluminum block 427. The engine was said to develop 620 hp and way approximately 360 lbs. The major difference between this year and last that would effect the team was the amount of preseason testing that was done, about 500 miles as compared to 2,000 the year before.

When race day arrived at Road America, rumor met cold reality. Neither Surtees or Dan Gurney’s team made the trip up north and Ferrari was nowhere to be seen. Chaparral’s newest sensation was still back at the shop and Hall showed up driving an updated version of last year’s Chaparral 2G.

McLaren M8BThe two McLarens on the front row were followed by Hall and Donohue on the 2nd row. It began to rain as cars were formed on the grid with most drivers opting for wet rubber. Hulme led from the start, followed by McLaren, Hall and Andretti, with Donohue ending on the grass. Andretti would soon pass Hall. By mid-race the rain had tapered off and Donohue, recovering from his first lap spin was cleaving through the field. Andretti’s 5.0-litre Lola T70 was no match for the larger cars and was soon moving backwards as the track dried. With less than two laps to go Andretti’s Ford engine let go of a connecting rod and he was out. Hulme suffering a sick engine but had enough of a lead to nurse his car home ahead of McLaren and a charging Donohue in 3rd. Road America would see 5 McLarens in the first six places with Hall’s Chaparral 2G in 5th, two laps down as the outlier. Motschenbacher, driving a privately entered McLaren M6B had the honors of setting the fastest lap.

Jim Hall - Chaparral 2G

The next race in New York at Bridgehampton on the 15th witnessed the addition of Dan Gurney’s All American Racers’ modified McLaren, the ‘McEagle‘ powered by a Weslake-Ford engine. John Surtees brought a modified Lola T160 entered as a Team Surtees-Chevrolet. The aluminum Chevy engine included reworked cylinder heads made by Harry Weslake in England. The car also included a fixed wing attached to the suspension uprights. The wing on Donohue’s Penske Mclaren M6B was also now fixed as he would later explain in his book:

‘I was going to trim it out on the straightaway, and the car took off like a rocket. So, about halfway down the pit straight, going well over 170 mph. I released that beauty (wing) – and I damn near lost it! On the straightaway!’ ‘It happened so suddenly that it was like being hit by a brick. Naturally I backed off immediately and kept it in a straight line, but that scared me so bad that I could never bring myself to use it again.’ Mark Donohue The Unfair Advantage

Both factory McLaren M8As qualified on the front row. Behind them were Peter Revson an Mark Donohue in customer Mclaren M6Bs followed by Jim Hall in his Chaparral 2G and Gurney in his McLeagle. Dan Gurney’s teammate Swede Savage was back in 17th driving a Lola T160.

In the race the McLarens grabbed the early lead with Donohue in 3rd and Hall in 4th. The crowd was at once enthralled as the Chaparral passed Donohue for 3rd and then McLaren for 2nd and then dejected when the Chaparral lost power. Donohue passed the Chaparral and as Hulme, his engine puffing white smoke until it blew, the blues Penske car was now in 2nd. A few laps later Bruce McLaren joined his teammate and was also out of the race, a main bearing was said to be the culprit. Donohue was now in first trailed by the Chaparral and there it stayed until they crossed the line. 3rd was Lothar Motschenbacher. The was Donohue’s 2nd Can-Am win, the first since 1966 and last before the Porsche Era. Swede Savage was recorded as finishing 4th though 5 laps in arrears. Mario Andretti in the Lola T70 M3B, probably wished he had stayed home. Though the race marked an up tick in Penske Racing’s fortunes, Donohue understood that this was just a fluke and it would be extremely difficult to beat McLaren with their own car from last year no matter how much it was improved. To expect both cars to break was too much to expect on a regular basis.

1968 Can-AmThe series would now move to Canada for their only visit to the Great White North at Edmonton Speedway Park near Edmonton, Alberta. Initially in the late 1940s, it was the location of a dirt track called the Breckenridge Oval. Later in 1967, a drag strip was added and a 4.067 km road course was was built which opened in time for the first Can-Am race this year. The trip from New York to Edmonton took the teams 3 1/2 days to trailer the cars to the circuit.

The McLarens again locked out the front row. The best of the rest for this race was Jim Hall in the Chaparral 2G followed by the Penske Racing Mclaren driven by Mark Donohue, starting in 4th. Gurney and Revson would fill the third row. The race started with Hulme in the lead while Mclaren battled the white Chaparral. A brake caliper repair forced the Chaparral into the pits for repairs that would leave them 15 laps behind the leaders where Hall would end up in 11th place. Revson ()main bearing), Gurney (oil leak) as well as Surtees (blown head gasket) all dropped out with engine trouble. Surtees qualifying a lowly 15th was moving backwards, his relationship with the Lola had soured before the season began and it was obvious that both sides had suffered. Surtees would not score a single point during the entire forgettable season. Lola Cars eventually sold twelve Lola T160s with Carl Haas being the American distributor, that was said to be a cleaned up T70 but the handling was suspect and went through many revisions, the teams that raced them were left on thier own. The list of retirements was joined by half the field, enough to fill a junkyard. Hulme suffering his own engine problems but again was able to nurse his car home for the win followed by McLaren in 2nd and Donohue in 3rd.

John Surtees decided his car needed more work so passed up going to Laguna Seca. Joining the polesitter Bruce McLaren was the Chaparral of Jim Hall. Hulme would start on the second row next to Revson. On row three were Donohue and Chuck Parsons. The weather on race day called for rain and rain it was for the entire day causing multiple accident and off-track excursions for cars, frankly unsuited for the rain, all except one.

1968 Can AmAt the start the Chaparral would not start forcing it to be pushed to the side. Revson, coming up from the 2nd row passed Hulme in to 2nd behind McLaren with Donohue in fourth. Englishman John Cannon had the foresight and a bit of luck by putting intermediate F1 Firestone rain tires, suggested by their technician, on his vintage space-framed McLaren M1B. Down on power but up on traction he was lapping 2 seconds faster than the leading McLarens that he would soon pass from his 10th place starting position! With cars spinning all around him Cannon was not satisfied with maintaining a lead but came around to lap the leaders again. Cannon would win almost $20,000 for his amazing performance. Hulme finished 2nd a lap down followed by George Eaton in 3rd. Mclaren could do no better than 5th on the day that John Cannon had slain Goliath.

Cannon’s car turned back into a pumpkin at Riverside, qualifying 15th. Both McLarens were back on the front row followed by Donohue and Hall. On the third row were Revson and Gurney. Surtees was back with his Lola, qualifying 8th. The McLarens blasted into the lead with Hall out braking Donohue to grab third. Hulme would lose his second place when he had to run off track to avoid a spinning car damaging one of his front fenders. Donohue was able to pass the Chaparral into second where he finished behind Mclaren with Hall in 3rd. Hulme brought his damaged McLaren in 5th.

1968 McLaren and HulmeGoing into the last race Stardust International Raceway, Hulme was leading the Championship with 26 points with McLaren and Donohue tied for 2nd with 23 points each. Chris Amon brought his Ferrari 612. As usual both McLarens qualified on the front row with Hall and Revson behind them. Amon could do no better than 9th while Sam Posey and Mario Andretti were on the third row. Chaos greeted the opening lap of the race when too many cars tried to go through the first turn. By the time the dust settled Charlie Hayes and Chris Amon were out and McLarens had to pit to repair body damage. Hulme was in the lead followed by Andretti and Revson. By the second lap Andretti was slowed by a puncture. After a series of pitstops Mclaren, Chaparral and came upon a slow moving Motschenbacher. Hall hit the back of the private McLaren and was launched into the air, after which he was pulled from the wreckage just as it burst into flames. Hall would suffer two broken legs and a fractured jaw. Jim Hall would never race in Can-Am again. Hulme would win the race and the Championship, George Follmer was 2nd and Jerry Titus was 3rd. Bruce McLaren would finish 6th and 2nd in the Championship, Mark Donahue 3rd.

1968 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8A 35
2 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8A 24
3 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing McLaren M6B 23
4 Jim Hall Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2G 12
5 Lothar Motschenbacher Dana Chevrolet Racing McLaren M6B 11
6 John Cannon John Cannon Racing McLaren M1B 10

1969 Can-Am Season

For 1969 the Can-Am series, with the end of the SCCA’s United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) series, was expanded from 6 events to 11. Added for the first time were Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio road courses as well as two super speedways at Michigan and Texas, albeit including their road course extensions while the race in Las Vegas was gone and forgotten. The first race would now be in the summer on the 1st of June at Mosport, Canada, one of three races in Canada.

The Porsche-Audi team continued their dalliance with the series without fully committing money and resources. John Surtees had formed an unhappy partnership with Chaparral, no longer fielding a car of his own.

1969 Can-Am SeasonThe first race would take place on the 1st of June at Mosport Park. McLarens filled the front row with Bruce McLaren grabbing pole but behind them was a customer McLaren driven by John Surtees and the customer was Jim Hall’s Chaparral! Surtees would race the white McLaren while the Chaparral 2H was undergoing some last minute modifications. This must have been a bitter pill for Hall, less so for Surtees. Chuck Parsons in a Lola T163 qualified 4th. Dan Gurney in his McLeagle could do no better than 6th. Gurney had retired from F1 and beside Indy was hoping to make a bigger push in Can-Am but was let down when he could pry extra funding from Ford. There were twenty-one starters in a race witnessed by a disappointing crowd of 30,000 spectators. At the start Bruce McLaren took the lead but his teammate Hulme was passed by first Surtees on the inside and then Parsons. Unfortunately for Parsons he had made the wrong tire choice and his rain tires soon began to overheat as he fell back. Surtees however had passed McLaren for the lead was re-passed. Surtees was back in front on the 6th lap.

Surtees’ engine began to over heat and he was passed by both Bruce mcLaren and Dan Gurney who was now in second. By lap 30, whatever was slowing Hulme down had disappeared and he was now in the lead. Gurney had a rear upright break on his car and was out of the race. Surtees was still nursing his overheating McLaren in 3rd which is where he finished behind Hulme in 2nd and McLaren in 1st, with first place now gaining 20 points.

Surtees was still driving the white Mclaren at St Jovite. Gurney’s Ford engine broke a piston forcing him to with draw from the race. Bruce McLaren again qualified on pole followed by Hulme, Motschenbacher and Surtees. St Jovite was Denny Hulme’s turn to win with McLaren coming in 2nd followed by Chuck Parsons. In sixth place was Fred Baker driving an ex-Donohue McLaren M6B entered by the popular comedy team, the Smothers Brothers. Again the crowd was disappointing with only 20,000 attending the race. Surtees who had run an inspired race was clipped by Bruce McLaren suffering body damage that eventually brought out a black flag. Chaparral had order extra body panels but they had not arrived in time for this race. Indy racer, Joe Leonard finished 8th driving a Olds powered McKee Mk7, the first turbo-charged engine to finish a Can-Am race. It would be a month before the next race.

Ferrari 612PNow back in the United States the race came to Watkins Glen, a village in Schuyler County, New York. A local law student by the name of Cameron Argetsinger dreamed of bringing European style racing to the village where he spent his summer vacations. Argetsinger’s father was a highly successful corporate lawyer who had a home in Burdett, only three miles from Watkins Glen. Argetsinger drew up a course that encompassed asphalt, cement and dirt roads in and around the village. With the help of his colleagues in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) the dream became reality on October 2, 1948, “The Day They Stopped the Trains,” in the first post-World War II road race in the U.S. The race was moved to a temporary course in 1953, and 2.3-mile permanent circuit was built in 1956.

“My real concern, a selfish one I admit — was where to race my MG-TC,” he says. “I had always thought a Watkins Glen circuit would be the ideal set-up because it would have everything in the way of challenge. I had even laid out a course during the winter of 1947 and ’48 on our living room rug in my home in Youngstown, Ohio”, where he was attending the university. Cameron Argetsinger – Motorsport Magazine

The series was given an extra boost by being combined with the six-hour sports car race held on Saturday. Chris Amon brought an improved Ferrari 612P to the race with which he qualified a strong 3rd behind the two McLarens. Surtees qualified 4th in the White McLaren. Qualifying 10th was another white car, a Porsche 908 for Jo Siffert. The race even included a Matra 650 driven by Mexican star Pedro Rodriguez.

The race saw both McLarens in the lead while Surtees was able to pass the Ferrari before losing a cylinder. The Ferrari had to slow due to overheating but was able to finish 3rd approximately 30 seconds behind the two McLarens with Bruce taking the checkered flag. Jo Siffert in the 3-litre Porsche was able to bring his car around to an uneventful 6th, wondering what more horsepower would have brought him. Rodriguez came home 10th in the Matra.

1969 Can Am SeasonIt was back to Canada for the next race at Edmonton Speedway Park. The new Chaparral caused quite a stir when it finally appeared, driven by a reluctant John Surtees, who reluctantly was able to qualify the car in 6th. The race saw a three way battle between the two factory McLarens and Amon’s Ferrari until Bruce McLarens engine failed on the 36th lap. Hulme was able to hold on for the win with Amon 2nd and George Eaton running with a flat tire 3rd followed by the reluctant Surtees in 4th. Only seven cars were running at the end of the race.

Mark Donohue and Penske racing were back for Mid-Ohio in a Lola T163 while Jo Siffert had a 917PA. The Porsche would qualify 7th while the Penske qualified a well deserved 3rd , just ahead of Chuck Parson’s Lola T163. Surtees, no less reluctant, qualified the Chaparral 2H in 5th. Amon could qualify no better than 12th suffering problems with his ferrari’s handling.

Porsche 917PAWith the McLarens in the lead the race evolved in a battle for third with Amon having joined the fun. Surtees had to pit with a broken goggle strap. Donohue had a half shaft brake while Amon passed the Lola of Chuck Parsons in 3rd. Siffert’s Porsche was behind Parsons in 4th followed by Surtees.

Just before the end of the race Bruce McLaren dove into the pits, his oil pressure gauge registering zero but with only a few laps remaining he was told to soldier on. Later it was found that the oil pump had seized. Hulme won the race with another McLaren 1-2 followed by Amon, Siffert, Surtees and Canadian George Eaton. After five races Hulme had 75 points to 70 for McLaren followed by Chris Amon with 39.

A 8.1-litre Ford-powered Ex-Revson Mclaren M6B that was entered by Holman-Moody caused a bit of excitement at Road America. The car would be driven by Mario Andretti who would qualify 3rd only to be let down by a CV failure at morning warmup. In the race the closest car to the McLarens was Amon’s Ferrari which was running in 3rd until his oil pump also failed. Unlike the McLaren at the last race Amon was not able to continue. Chuck Parsons would come in 3rd in a race won by McLaren followed by Hulme in 2nd. Surtees suffered a cut tire and fearing suspension damage he stopped his Chaparral on the course.

Replying to complaints about the McLaren domination of the series, Bruce McLaren perhaps uncharitably remarked that “you don’t feel like going to the circus or a zoo without seeing the elephants, no matter how many monkeys there might happen to be …”

1969 Can Am

After Road America the were five more races left to run, the McLaren Team would go on to win every race this year. Of the five remaining Denny Hulme would win two, Bridgehampton and Riverside while Bruce McLaren would win at Michigan, Laguna Seca and the season ender in Texas. The elephants had beaten the monkeys.

At Bridgehampton Surtees was back in the white McLaren and though he qualified a more competitive 4th behind the Ferrari 612 his engine gave out 12 laps from the finish. Amon also suffered engine problems and Jo Siffert finished 3rd. At Michigan International Speedway, Dan Gurney was given the third Mclaren with the understanding that he was not allowed to beat either of the works cars. Driving the third factory Mclaren from the back of the grid he obediently drove it to 3rd place. Surtees who was suffering from Bronchitis was replaced by Andrea de Adamich who finished a respectable 5th behind Siffert. Amon was not able to make the start due to a seized engine prior to the race. Jackie Oliver joined the series at Laguna Seca driving a Autocoast Ti22 designed by Peter Bryant. Able to complete only a few shakedown laps the car would start from the back of the grid alongside Amon driving one of the factory McLaren M8Bs while he was waiting for a new engine for his Ferrari. The Chaparral’s engine failed on the pace lap and was not able to start the race. Amon for his part made fast progress through the field before hitting one of the tire markers and having to pit for a new nosepiece. He would later be forced to drop out when his differential broke. Andretti was actually able to finish the race in the 8.1-litre Ford-powered McLaren M6B in 4th behind Chuck Parsons Lola T163 in 3rd. Oliver was able to gain some well needed test miles finishing 13th in the Ti22.

1969 McLeagleAmon finally got his new engine at Riverside driving what was now designated the Ferrari 712, the largest engine Ferrari had ever built up to that time. With it he qualified a strong 3rd. Any chance of a race though was ruined when Amon was black flagged for a push start, a silly rule that has ruined more than one Can-Am race but one that the bureaucrats seemed particularly fond of. The fact that in a series with few limits the need for an onboard starter makes no sense at all. Mclaren proving that he was human crashed out of the race. Behind Mclaren were the cars of Gurney and Parsons battling for third and now 2nd. Oliver who qualified a strong fourth dropped out when his differential broke. Surtees started 14th but quit with what he said was a sick engine, thus ending his race and sadly his once distinguished Can-Am career. With Hulme winning, Parsons took 2nd and Andretti 3rd for his best finish of the year.

1969 Can Am Normally the season would have ended in Las Vegas at the Stardust Raceway but new ownership and a rare rainstorm literally washed the track away and the race would be held at the Texas World Speedway. Andretti qualified a surprising 2nd next to Hulme. At the start he was able to pass Hulme for the lead only to suffer a blown engine joining Amon with another blown engine. Hulme not wanting to be left out also suffered an engine failure giving the win and the Championship to his boss who won the race with Canadian George Eaton in 2nd. Jack Brabham making a rare Can-Am appearance was able to take his Alan Mann Racing Open Sports Ford into 3rd place. The car was designed by Len Bailey, who had been involved in the Le Mans GT40 program. Behind the McLaren pair in the Championship came Chuck Parsons, Jo Siffert and George Eaton. Peter Revson, Dan Gurney and Mario Andretti were bunched together for a disappointing 11th in the Championship.

The reason for McLaren’s domination was not some example of technological brilliance or a huge budget. It was just the fact that no other team ran a consistently professional operation with sufficient testing and attention to detail. Chaparral, for all of their technical brilliance failed to finish more times than not. Lola, and Ferrari never seriously challenged the smaller McLaren team while the other teams were mostly amateurs racing against professionals with half or more of the field dropping out due to mechanical failures of one sort or another. Racer John Cordts who came in 10th in the Championship scoring 24 points admitted that during his Can-Am career he would be more or less homeless for weeks at a time.

1969 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8B 165
2 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8B 160
3 Chuck Parsons Carl A. Haas Racing Team Lola T162, T163 85
4 Jo Siffert Porsche-Audi Porsche 908/02, 917 PA 56
5 George Eaton George Eaton Racing Mclaren M12 52
6 Chris Amon Chris Amon Racing
Bruce McLaren Racing
Formula 1 Enterprises
Ferrari 612P
McLaren M8B
Ferrari 712P

1970 Can-Am Season

On June 2nd, 1970 at Goodwood Circuit in England the rear wing failed on the McLaren M8D Bruce McLaren was testing causing the bodywork to peel away sending the M8D off the track at 270kph. After he’d received the news from the track, Bruce’s right-hand man Teddy Mayer called the factory together – requesting that they put down their welding torches, their hacksaws, their brooms.

He ushered them onto the workshop floor just after lunchtime on that warm summer day. “Guys, I have the worst possible news,” said Mayer. “Bruce has just bought the farm.”

‘Buying the farm’ was a wartime euphemism for being killed – and everybody assembled in David Road would have well known its meaning. “Let’s all just go home,” he sighed. “Have some time to yourselves. Take tomorrow off.” The workforce, shattered, broken and directionless, walked away in a daze, their world over.

Bruce McLaren

For the 1970 season both super speedways decided to give the Can-Am series a pass. Gone too, regrettably was Bridgehampton replaced with Donnybrooke International Raceway in Minnesota and Road Atlanta in Georgia. The first race would again be at Mosport Park, though two weeks later. The shattered McLaren team would have two weeks to pull themselves together. After the death of team owner Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney was asked to fill in with the team.

Gurney immediately proved why many consider him one of the fastest drivers in the world by qualifying on pole with Hulme, still recovering from his burns that he receive at Indianapolis starting besides him. On the second row was Jackie Oliver driving an Autocoast Ti22 and Peter Revson in a Lola T220. The Ti22 was a well designed American built car by Englishman Peter Bryant that utilized a lot of titanium in its construction. Jackie Oliver was brought over from England with a salary of expenses plus $1000 per race or 40% of the purse, whichever was greater.

AVS ShadowStarting 6th was the grotesque AVS Shadow with the absurdly small tires driven by a very brave George Follmer. While the low frontal area helped in straight line speed the general ride characteristics must have been torture to the tough American. Hulme led from the start but at the half-way point of the race the Ti22 was in second. Monetarily held up by traffic Hulme was passed by Oliver and Gurney. Finally Gurney was able to pass Oliver who would touch wheels with the McLaren of Lothar Motschenbacher causing the German driver to crash heavily. Gurney went on to win the race with Oliver able to soldier on in 2nd with Hulme finishing a very painful third.

The race at St Jovite’s Circuit Mont-Tremblant is notorious for the hump on the very fast back stretch, and it was at this point that Oliver got a flying start, literally when instability created by the hump was aggravated by the turbulence generated from the cars in front of the Autocoast Ti22 caused Oliver’s car to rear up and perform a complete back flip before landing and sliding on its nose. Fortunately for Oliver the titanium chassis absorbed all the damage and enabled him to escape virtually unscratched. Oliver was able to walk away from the accident but his race was obviously done.

Hulme’s engine had come to a smoky end leaving Gurney to lead Motschenbacher to the finish with George Eaton driving the BRM P154 into 3rd place. Follmer driving the AVS Shadow dropped out on the 13th lap due to overheating. After the race, the Shadow was destroyed when the trailer carrying it was wrecked by a drunk driver in a stolen car. By the time a new car was built there would be a new driver.

Jackie Stewart - Chaparral 2JThe next race a Watkins Glen included a number of entries from the World Championship race held on Saturday. The star of the race was the radical new Chaparral 2J with ground effects on the part of two auxiliary motors sucking air from the bottom of the car. problems from these motors and the Chaparrals rear brakes however would hamper the car all weekend. Nothing would hamper it’s driver however, F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart. Two cars were missing this weekend both from crashes, the Ti22 on the track and the Shadow on it’s trailer!. The race began with Hulme and Gurney in the lead. They were soon challenged by the Porsche 917 sports car of Jo Siffert. Both McLarens were suffering from high temperatures but Hulme was able to hold on for the win trailed by five Porsche 917s and a Ferrari 512, an embarrassing result for the regular Can-Am entrants.

1970 Can-AmThough Gurney won the first two races from pole for the devastated team he was never completely comfortable driving for them. Forbidden to make changes to his car set-up without approval from team management and the team’s desire for Gurney to make a full-time commitment to the team which would include Formula 1, would have resulted in having to abandon his own team AAR, at least temporarily was too much of a sacrifice for a driver that was finding his own driving in a McLaren against inferior competition less than satisfactory.

Englishman and British F5000 winner Peter Gethin replaced Gurney for the 4th race at Edmonton Speedway Park. Compared to his F5000 car the McLaren seemed big and heavy to the Englishman. The overheating issues that were plaguing the McLarens were isolated to their chassis installation rather than to the engines themselves. Modifications to the radiators and some duct work mitigated the issue. Hulme grabbed pole position and Gethin found himself along side. Lothar Motschenbacher qualified 3rd in his McLaren M8B alongside Bob Brown in his McLeagle. Things were back to normal when Hulme led a McLaren 1-2 with new man Gethin coming in 2nd and Motschenbacher 3rd.

At Mid-Ohio, Hulme won again but this time he was followed by Peter Revson in a Lola T220 driving for Carl Haas Racing. 3rd was Lothar Motschenbacher. Gethin’s McLaren did not see the finish due to engine failure. During the race Vic Elford who had replaced George Follmer driving the AVS Shadow pulled in the pits on the 9th lap deciding that the car was not only a danger to himself but to others as well. The Shadow team would withdraw from the series until a more conventional car could be built.

1970 Watkins GlenSince joining the team, Peter Gethin did not seem totally comfortable driving the large bore sports cars which needed to be manhandled. Driving in these cars in the rain at Road America did not help things for the Englishman and the best he could do was qualify 6th. On Sunday, under blue skies, Gethin found new life. The leader after the 1st lap was Peter Revson but Gethin was already 3rd behind Hulme. By the end of lap two both McLarens were able to pass Revson’s Lola. Hulme let Gethin into the lead and Revson suffered a deflated tire and resulting damage to his car forced him out of the race. Eventually Hulme made it back into the lead but 13 laps from the end he came upon a group of back markers. Having to take evasive action he spun his McLaren and stalled the engine. Dropping the clutch to start the engine was not allowed through a quirk in the rules which would later come to haunt Hulme. Getting a slow signal from the pits, Gethin was forced to wait for his teammate who then passed him back into the lead only to be disqualified. Gethin was given the win with Bob Bondurant in 2nd and Dave Causey in 3rd. Left unsaid was that the “bear was fit to be tied”.

Road Atlanta saw the return of the Chaparral 2J, this time driven by Vic Elford who promptly placed the Chaparral on pole. The McLarens, led by Hulme could do no better the 2nd and 3rd. Next to Gethin was Peter Revson driving the Lola T220 for Carl Haas Racing. Since Watkins Glen the Chaparral had gone through a number of modifications including larger brakes, fuel injection and reworked extractor fans. At the start the Chaparral fell back to 4th. Hulme expecting the onslaught from Elford’s car clouted a back marker as he was attempting to get some more distance on the Chaparral and was forced to retire. Ignition problems required the Chaparral to lose time in the pits, finishing in 6th place six laps down. Peter Gethin went off course as he lost traction on a patch of oil, returning after a new nose was fitted in 6th place.

Tony Dean leads at 1970 RRevson. who was now leading the race had his 2nd flat tire in as many races, causing him to lose control and crashed into a dirt bank that also collected the McLeagle of Bob Brown. This put the BRM P154 driven by George Eaton into the lead of the destruction derby. On lap 48 Eaton added his BRM to the scrap heap joined later by Gethin as his gearbox failed. In a race of survival, one of the last men standing was the virtual unknown Porsche driver, Tony Dean, in the lead with just nine laps to go. He crossed the finish line 72 seconds ahead of the second place Lola T163 of Dave Causey to win his first and only Can-Am and break the McLaren’s win streak at nineteen races. 3rd went to Lothar Motschenbacher in his McLaren M12.

1970 Can-AmAt Donnybrooke Speedway, the 8th round of the series Peter Revson set the fastest time for pole over Hulme and the March 707 driven by Chris Amon with Gethin joining Amon on the 2nd row. Sadly the Chaparral was nowhere to be seen but in its place there were the two Castrol BRMs driven by George Eaton and Pedro Rodriguez. Revson’s new Lola T220 that replaced the one he crashed at Road Atlanta now had a wheelbase 10 inches longer which according the Revson improved stability, especially under braking. Hulme drag raced Revson into the lead while Revson was battling Gethin for 2nd until his throttle became stuck, A quick tip to the pits was met with a delay leaving it while a new throttle spring was being fitted. Amon was now behind Gethin and would soon challenge for 2nd place. When an internal pipe broke Amon had to retire his fuel starved car. The race however ended in a McLaren 1-2 with Hulme winning over Gethin. Peter Revson was one lap back in 3rd.

The Chaparral 2J was back at Laguna Seca and qualified on pole only to blow an engine during morning warm-up and not start the race. Autocoast had a new model car the Ti22 Mk II while Revson’s Lola T220 and Amon’s March707 looked much improved. The Mclarens of Hulme and Gethin moved to the front row with the Chaparral non-started. Without the Chaparral both McLarens took an early lead. Amon was the first to drop back with brake issues which also struck Revson’s Lola. Gethin spun his Mclaren on some oil and stalled his engine. Not able to restart his car on its own he was forced to retire. Though Oliver tried his best to Denny Hulme into the lead the New Zealander had the race well in hand for a close win over Oliver’s Ti22 Mk II in 2nd with Revson in third one lap down.

1970 Can Am

At Riverside Elford was again on pole by almost 2 second over Hulme with Revson in 3d next to Oliver in 4th. During practice the Chaparral was able to easily pass Hulme’s Mclaren on the outside down in turn 9 to the consternation of the McLaren team. Meeting were called to discuss the Chaparrals unfair advantage, all were invited except the team that was under threat. Nothing was decided prior to the race though the knives were out for Hall’s team, the team if a poll were taken, was probably the fan’s favorite. Gethin could do no better than 6th in his last Can-Am race. Hulme grabbed the early lead The Chaparral again fell back in the early going because of it’s automatic transmission but as it was getting ready to mount its challenge one of the suction motors failed and it’s race was over before it began. The most fantastic race car ever designed had raced its last race. The car that epitomized the Canadian – American Challenge Cup and the team that gave it birth would never race in the Can-Am again. The race was won by Hulme but it was a hollow win. Oliver was 2nd and Pedro Rodriguez win 3rd. Hulme won 1970 Can-Am Championship. Peter Gethin blew his engine on the 21st lap.

1970 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing Mclaren M8D 132
2 Lothar Motschenbacher Motschenbacher Racing Mclaren M8B, M8C, M12 65
3 Peter Gethin Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8B 56
4 Dave Causey Dave Causey Racing Lola T153 47
5 Jackie Oliver Autocoast Titanium Racing Autocoast Ti22 45
6 Tony Dean A.G. Dean Ltd Porsche 908/02 44

1971 Can-Am Season

Vic Elford and Jim HallThe big news for 1971 was the FIA’s decision on banning the Chaparral 2J and all similar cars with moving aerodynamic devices. McLaren argued that if the Chaparral 2J were not outlawed, it would likely kill the Can-Am series by totally dominating it, ironically, something that McLaren had been doing since 1967. With the ban, any interest in continuing to compete in Can-Am series from Jim Hall had disappeared as well. Sadly Can-Am’s raison d’être was now in question.

The season would continue to have 10 events for the year starting on the 13th of June at Mosport, Canada. The overall prize money for each event would $55,000 that would be distributed to the top 20 finishers with the championship fund given to only the top three points finishers with the champion getting $25,000, a reduction of 50% compared to the previous year. Peter Revson would join Denny Hulme at McLaren for the new season. Porsche-Audi would be there somewhat behind the scenes supporting a STP – Jo Siffert team to race and learn ahead of an all out assault the following year and rumored to be in talks with Roger Penske as part of the effort. A number of personnel from Autocoast moved over to the Don Nichols led Shadow team including designer Peter Bryant and driver Jackie Oliver.

For the first time Can-Am’s schedule would be incorporated into the international schedule of races of the FIA. This would mean that the series’ races would no longer clash with any Grand Prix event. Lola would up the ante with a new car and driver Jackie Stewart in what would be for him a busy World Championship season. In May Stewart had come in for a seat fitting, impressed by the Bob Marston designed Lola, requesting that the gear-shift knob and steering wheel be changed. Everything was coming along nicely until Stewart noticed the inboard brakes on the car sans front bodywork. With the death of his friend Jochen Rindt due to brake shaft failure still in his mind he told all assembled that he would not drive the car as is This caused the Lola team to completely redesign key front end components of the car two weeks before the first race at Mosport. Stewart’s only pre-season test with the new car came in a rain-soaked shakedown run at Silverstone just before the car was shipped to Canada for the opening Can-Am race.

Lola T260

A light rain greeted the drivers at Mosport Park as they attempted to qualify for the race. Stewart was able to grab pole and a new $2,600 prize for the effort. The Mclarens of Hulme and Revson qualified 2nd and 3rd. Qualifying 4th was John Cordts driving a privately entered McLaren M8C. Hulme took the early lead while Stewart was dealing with a balky throttle. Stewart was able to capture the lead from Hulme when he had some difficulty passing slower cars. Hulme was content to follow the Lola as he sensed there might be trouble in its future as oil was leaking from Stewart’s transaxle which finally seized on lap 19. Hulme reassumed the lead and led Revson in the second McLaren over the line.

Denny Hulme & Jackie StewartAt St Jovite for round two, Hulme was able to secure pole ahead of Stewart, Revson and Jackie Oliver driving the new Shadow. At the start of the race the running order stayed unchanged at the front until Hulme was forced to let Stewart by, having suffered some malady from the night before. At the finish it was Stewart for the victory with With Hulme 2nd, Revson 3rd and Chuck Parsons all driving McLarens 4th. Lothar Motschenbacher, who had started from the rear was able to make it back up to a sickly 5th. The McLarens locked out the front row at Road Atlanta where the best that Stewart could do was 3rd with Oliver in the Shadow Mk2 qualifying 4th. Early in the race Stewart was able to pass both McLaren for the lead. A left rear puncture and trouble restarting the Lola dropped it to 21st. Stewart was able to set a blistering fastest lap but had to retire with suspension failure. Revson was able to lead his car across the line with Hulme in 2nd and Lothar Motschenbacher in 3rd. In 4th was Tony Adamowicz driving the McLaren M8D for Auto World founder Oscar Koveleski.

The next round at Watkins Glen had Jackie Stewart back on pole followed by Revson and Hulme. Two new entries, one a Porsche 917/10 and the other a Ferrari 712M Spyder added more spice to the grid. As in last year, a number of cars from Saturday’s sports car race stayed over to race in the Can-Am on Sunday. The sports car contingent were led by Roger Penske Racing Ferrari 512M driven by Mark Donohue. At the start Stewart grabbed the lead over Revson until a flat tire forced him to pit. Upon re-joining the race Stewart found himself behind Hulme and though catching Hulme would have taken quite an effort and any chance of that evaporated when his transmission filed. Revson would win with Hulme 2nd and Jo Siffert’s Porsche 917/10 3rd.

1971 Lola T260At Mid-Ohio Stewart was appalled at the track surface and the various trees and poles that dotted the track. The promoter went about and removed as much of the obstacles that could be done in the short time available and Stewart reluctantly carried on. After numerous suspensions failures due to the rough nature of the track surface the Lola and McLaren teams requested that the race length be shortened but were refused. Stewart announced that he would drive but not actually race. A broken half shaft on Hulme’s McLaren caused him to spin out where upon he was hit by Dave Causey’s Lola T222 forcing both cars out of the race. Revson led after the first lap followed by Stewart who wasn’t putting in any extra effort besides maintaining his 2nd place. Further back was Jo Siffert in the Porsche. With less than a half-dozen cars running Revson saw his easy win disappear on the 72nd lap when he suffered the same failure as Hulme. This handed the race win to Stewart who “still wasn’t racing”. Jo Siffert came in 2nd and Tony Adamowicz third.

At the mid-point of the season Revson led Hulme 67 to 65 points with Stewart in 3rd at 40, ahead of Motschenbacher at 32. Both Revson and Stewart had two wins to Hulme’s one but the Lola’s unreliability was hampering its chances. Tony Adamowicz’s Auto World Mclaren was fourth with a very strong 30 points.

1971 Can-Am

Road America saw the return of the Shadow Team which qualified on the front row next to polesitter Denny Hulme. Behind them was Stewart and Motschenbacher. Starting at the back was Peter Revson who had not set a qualifying time. Hulme stormed into the lead followed by Jackie Stewart. Such was the dominance of McLaren that Revson was soon in 3rd place. After 10 laps the Lola of Stewart suffered a blown engine. A series of flat tires dropped Jackie Oliver’s Shadow to last place. Hulme looked set for another win, that was until his engine failed with a broken crankshaft. Revson would lead Jo Siffert in 2nd followed by Vic Elford driving a McLaren M8E for American Racing Associates.

This is a great life for giving you and inferiority complex!” Lola designer discussing the challenge of competing against McLaren – Can-Am by Pete Lyons

Round 7 at Donnybrroke Speedway had the two McLarens at their normal starting position on the front row with Peter Revson claiming pole. Jackie Stewart in the Lola T260 was 3rd with Lothar Motschenbacher joining him on the 2nd row followed by Oliver in the Shadow Mk2 and Vic Elford in the McLaren M8E on the 3rd. At the start Stewart dove into the lead followed by Revson, Hulme and Oliver. On the third lap Revson was able to squeeze by the Lola. On the 22nd lap Stewart felt something and dived into the pits without the mechanics being able to diagnose what the issue was later he had to pit again for a flat tire. Revson took an easy win with Denny Hulme in 2nd and Greg Young in 3rd and Vic Elford in 4th. Stewart brought the Lola in 6th while Oliver dropped out on the 28th with a broken CV joint.

1971 Can-AmRevson was delayed at Edmonton when some vandal dropped a bolt into one of his car’s cylinders. Fourteen laps later he was able to leave the pit lane. In the race both Stewart and Oliver were able to slip by Hulme’s McLaren. Though a light rain was falling most of the cars were racing on dry tires. Hulme was able to pass Oliver but was still 45 seconds behind the flying Scot. Handling difficulties allowed Hulme back in front where he stayed. Stewart was able to claim 2nd followed by followed by Jackie Oliver in 3rd. Revson could do no better than 12th having suffered a flat tire in addition to the initial sabotage.

The Autocoast Ti22 car made a return under new owners and without its designer Peter Bryant at Laguna Seca and was driven by David Hobbs who qualified a shocking 3rd. Brian Redman made an appearance driving a heavily modified BRM now referred to as the P167 while the Lola T260 now sported a large front wing extension. Peter Revson would qualify on poll with Hulme next to him. Stewart joined Hobbs on the 2nd row with Oliver in the Shadow Mk2 and Redman on the 3rd row. Revson led Hulme on the first lap and Stewart was able to get by Hobbs through the corkscrew, After ten laps Hulme’s engine suffered a broken valve spring which allowed Stewart to finish 2nd to Peter Revson with Denny Hulme 3rd. The last race at Riverside was a McLaren 1-2 with Hulme winning over the new Can-Am Champion Peter Revson. Hulme finished 2nd in the championship with Stewart in 3rd. Though the Championship was won by Revson, some were saying that the results could well have been different if the Lola had better reliability, the fact remains that the McLarens won 8 of the ten races held.

“The car was very short wheelbase and very difficult to drive. In comparison to the McLarens, the car was just a monster to drive and we were just trying to keep up.” In fact, Stewart says the T260 was the most physically demanding car he raced in his entire career. “On the very fast circuits like Riverside it was awfully tricky because you never knew where you were going,” he remarks. While driving the Lola was hard work driving for Carl Haas was not. “Berni and Carl ran their team like a family,” Stewart says. “They really cared about their drivers and the people who worked for them. We were always together socially and regularly had dinners together.” Jackie Stewart

1971 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Peter Revson Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8F 148
2 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Racing McLaren M8F 132
3 Jackie Stewart Carl Haas Racing Lola T260 76
4 Jo Siffert STP – Jo Siffert Racing Porsche 917/10 68
5 Lothar Motschenbacher Motschenbacher Racing McLaren M8D 52
6 Milt Minter Vasek Polak Racing Porsche 917 PA 37

1972 Can-Am Season

In November of the previous year Penske announced to the world that they would be leading the Porsche effort in the Canadian Challenge Cup series. The Porsche 917 had been the dominant car in the World Sportscar Championship in 1970 and 1971. But for 1972, the FIA limited Group 5 cars to an engine capacity of 3-liters. With the 4.5L flat-12 engine of the 917 no longer eligible in Group 5, and with an interest in boosting sales in North America.

McLaren in response hired World Champion Jackie Stewart to partner Denny Hulme.

“I was approached by McLaren about whether I would drive for them the following year. I tested the McLaren and it was just like driving a passenger car compared to the incredibly nervous, pointy, short-wheelbase Lola where you were a millisecond away from an accident all the time.” – Jackie Stewart

1972 Can_am SeriesJohnson Wax which had been the title sponsor would end it’s relationship with the series which resulted in the lack of any championship fund beyond scraping up enough money to buy a trophy. The 1972 Can-Am season would consist of nine rounds starting at mosport on the 11th of June.

Days before the first race at Mosport Park, Stewart was out and Revson was back due to Stewart’s ongoing health issues involving mononucleosis and an ulcer. Both he and Hulme would be driving the all new McLaren M20 against the twin-turbo Porsche 917/10 of Mark Donohue. Shadow would have a new car for Jackie Oliver, this time without the silly little wheels. Neither BRM or a new Lola appeared at the first race which saw Donohue on the pole. Besides him was Peter Revson with Hulme and Oliver on the next row. The race for the first corner was won by Revson before the Porsche’ horsepower advantage allowed the Penske car to take the lead. Oliver was soon out with transmission failure as Donohue extended his lead.

Penske ran into some engine trouble and had to pit, returning to the race in 9th, 3 laps down. Revson’s engine failed on the 78th lap while Hulme was having problems of his own. Donohue was now in 2nd place but to far back to catch the Mclaren. Hulme would win the first race, with Donohue 2nd and Revson 3rd though not running at the end. The future looked dim for the McLaren team.

1972 Can Am SeasonThe next race at Road Atlanta saw all three top teams arriving early for testing. The McLaren team was able to improve their cars handling as well as their brakes, though the testing ended up destroying a couple of cars and putting one driver in the hospital. Oliver’s Shadow had the throttle stuck wide open at around 160 mph causing the car to crash into an embankment, luckily the shaken drive was able to walk away. Donohue was not so lucky.

Going down the back straightaway, the wing, which produced a tremendous amount of downforce at high speeds, came off the back of the car,” Donohue claimed. Actually the entire rear bodywork came off as well, frighteningly similar to the crash suffered by Bruce McLaren. When the car finally came to rest Donohue could only crawl away from the smoldering wreck fearing it may catch fire. His injuries would mean the team needed to fine a new driver as Donohue convalesced. It would be weeks before Donohue could walk unassisted and months before he would race.

1972 Can Am RaceThe next race at Road Atlanta welcomed the new car from Lola, the T310 to be driven by F5000 Champion, David Hobbs. Jackie Oliver was back with the rebuilt Shadow and may have wished otherwise. The sensation of qualifying was François Cevert driving the ex-Revson McLaren M8F for the Young American Racing Team. Penske hired American racer George Follmer as Donohue’s replacement. Follmer had driven for Penske off and on for a number of years including the Trans-Am series.

Hulme qualified on pole with Follmer next to him and Revson one place behind, next to Cevert. Follmer was able to pass Hulme on the outside with both Mclarens close behind. Revson’s car lost power on the third lap while Hulme continued to follow the Porsche, powerless to make a pass unless Follmer made a mistake. Disaster struck when air under the front of Hulme car caused it to do aback flip and landing on it’s rollbar. Revson who had stopped to repair his car was able to rush to the scene to assist his fellow driver. The badly shaken Hulme was able to walk away from the accident. George Follmer would go on to win the race, 2nd was Greg Young of Young American Racing Team, with Milt Minter in 3rd.

1972 Can Am seriesThe 3rd round would be held at Watkins Glen. The race would be the Mclaren Team’s final hurrah with Denny Hulme leading Peter Revson in their final 1-2. 3rd was Cevert while 4th was David Hobbs for Lola’s best finish for a largely unsuccessful year. The win by Hulme would be the last victory for team from New Zealand and would mark the end of an era never to return.

Jackie Oliver’s best race was the next round at Mid-Ohio when his Shadow came in 2nd to George Follmer’s Porsche. Follmer had been under some pressure from Porsche management to “up” his game and his second win did much to calm everyone down. 3rd was Milt Minter. The best that McLaren could do was a 4th by Denny Hulme.

François Cevert continued to impress everyone qualifying 2nd at Road America to Denny Hulme. Perhaps Teddy Mayer had made a mistake and should have hired Cevert to partner Hulme instead of Revson. In the 2nd row were two Porsche 917/10s driven by Mark Minter and Peter Gregg. Follmer did not get to the track until Saturday and by then the track was slick and wet. Follmer could not qualify higher than 13th. Revson was also caught out having to start back in 25th. When the flag dropped Follmer and Revson wasted no time moving towards the front and after the 1st lap Follmer was in 10th, Revson 13th. By the end of lap 2 Follmer was in 6th with Revson in 10th. On lap 4 the Porsche was 4th and by the 7th he had passed Oliver and Cevert and was now 2nd with Revson in 5th. By lap 12 Hulme was out with an engine failure, he was joined by Revson, who suffered from clutch problems. Follmer took the win with Cevert in 2nd and Peter Greg in 3rd. Jean-Pierre Jarier was 4th in the NART Ferrari 712M.

The dashing Frenchman won the next race at Donnybrooke where neither McLarens scored any points for the second race in a row. Milt Minter scored another 15 points for the Vasek Polak Racing Team with Oliver’s Shadow in 3rd. George Follmer was all set to win the race only to run out of gas! Donohue who qualified on poll on his return suffered a slow leak that eventually caused the tire to fail and Donohue an off-track excursion, which luckily ended in an open field.

1972 Can-AM

A still recovering Mark Donohue won at Edmonton followed by Hulme in 2nd and Follmer in 3rd. Donohue had let Follmer by on the last lap not realized that his teammate was a lap down. The Brazilian Carlos Pace driving the second Shadows Mk3 finished in 4th place. The other Mclaren driven by Peter Revson finished in 6th.

1972 Can-AmLaguna Seca was dominated by the Porsches of Roger Penske Racing with Donohue on poll. While leading Donohue let Follmer by for the win with Cevert coming from the back of the grid to 3rd place. Both McLaren’s failed to finish though Revson was awarded 19th place. Shadow was limited to one car driven by Jackie Oliver which didn’t finish due to an oil leak.

At Riverside Follmer would start from poll with Denny Hulme along side him for what would be his last Can-Am race. Behind them were Donohue and Revson. Follmer would win the race with Revson in second and Donohue in 3rd. Hulme was hit by engine troubles and was not running at the end. George Follmer would win the Can-Am Championship with Hulme and Minter tied on points for 2nd , but Hulme ahead because of his two wins early in the season. Donohue finished 3rd despite missing half the races.

McLaren’s Peter Revson would test a a car powered by Chevy’s twin turbo engine producing in the region of 900 bhp but quickly realized they would need a car with more downforce, a new gearbox and a much stronger drivetrain. With Goodyear urging the team to concentrate on Indy there was no budget for the changes the much more powerful engine would require and McLaren decided not compete in Can-Am the following year.

1972 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 George Follmer Roger Penske Racing Porsche 917/10 130
2 Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M20 65
3 Milt Minter Vasek Polak Racing Team Porsche 917/10 65
4 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing Porsche 917/10 62
5 François Cevert Young American Racing Team McLaren M8F 59
6 Peter Revson Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Mclaren M20 48

1973 Can-Am Season

The first of the eight Can-Am series races was held as usual in Canada at the Mosport Park. Mark Donohue qualified on pole but beside him was South African Jody Scheckter driving a Porsche 917/10 belonging to Vasek Polak Racing.

“It’s like riding a bicycle with an afterburner on the back. It’s too fast on the straights and too slow in the corners. If it’s wet tomorrow, they can get someone else to crash it!” Jody Scheckter – Can-Am by Pete Lyons

Polak was a major Southern California Porsche dealer originally from the Czech Republic. Behind them were teammates George Follmer and Charlie Kemp driving Porsche 917/10s for the Royal Crown Cola sponsored Rinzler Motor Racing. Jackie Oliver driving a Shadow DN2 was down in 11th. At the start Scheckter dove in front only to be passed by Donohue in exactly the same way. Coming up on a backmarker, Donohue found has path blocked and hit the back of the other car forcing him to pit to have the damaged nose piece of his car replaced. This put Scheckter in the lead before he was done in with a blown tire which put him into the guardrail. Charlie Kemp would assume the lead and win his first and last Can-Am race. Hans Wiedmer was 2nd, two laps down followed by Bob Nagel, another lap back.

The next race at Road Atlanta would consist of a 90 mile race divided into a forty mile race on Saturday added to a 50 mile race on Sunday. Donohue once again won Pole with Follmer joining him on the front row. Mosport’s winner was involved in a testing accident where he suffered injuries to his back putting him out for this race. Donohue easily won on Saturday but suffered a fuel leak on Sunday allowing Follmer to win the combined race, Donohue 2nd and Jody Scheckter in 3rd.

Mark DonohueAnother race, another pole for Donohue at Watkins Glen. Qualifying 4th was David Hobbs driving a McLaren M20 for Roy Wood Racing. The race was split into two thirty-lap heats, both run on Sunday. This time Donohue’s car ran without problems giving him commanding wins in both heats, while Follmer’s turbocharger failed. Scheckter had issues with tire selection allowing Hobbs by for a fine 2nd place followed by the South African in 3rd. Charlie Kemp recovering from his injuries and wearing a back brace came in a painful 4th.

At Mid-Ohio both Follmer and Scheckter forced their cars past Donohue on the opening lap. The Porsche 917/30 finally passed both cars and began to pull away. Scheckter left the track trying to avoid a backmarker and damaged his suspension forcing him to eventually retire. In the second heat Donohue out dragged Follmer and that was the end of the race. Hurley Haywood would finish 3rd driving a Porsche 917/10 for Brumos Racing.

At the fifth round in Wisconsin’s Road America the race was split into two heat with the first heat only counting for the starting grid in the second. Donohue won with Scheckter 2nd and Follmer in third. Donohue won at Edmonton with Follmer in 2nd and Oliver in a much improved Shadow in 3rd. Peter Bryant having moved from Autocoast was finally able to have some effect on the car’s handling. Jody Scheckter was forced out of the race with a blow engine on lap 11.

At Laguna Seca in Monterey, California another win for the Porsche 917/30 but Jackie Oliver and the Shadow Dn2 were able to score their best finish in 2nd, finishing 3rd was Hurley Haywood. Jody Scheckter who qualified 2nd had his clutch fail on lap 11. Follmer dropped out on lap 44 when his turbocharger failed.

1973 Can-Am at Road AtlantaThe season ending race at Riverside and a final win for Mark Donohue, Roger Penske and his Porsche 917/30. Hurley Haywood driving for Brumos Racing finished 2nd in his Porsche 917/10 with Charlie Kemp 3rd. Many of the other leading cars including those driven by Follmer and Scheckter were forced to retire after clouting one or more of the old tire turn markers. The fact that these remain is simply inexcusable. Vic Elford driving the turbo-charged Shadow DN2 lasted all of one lap. Mark Donohue would run away with the Championship scoring 139 points to George Follmer’s 62 points with Hurley Haywood’s 47 points in 3rd.

1973 Can-AmAll of the work with the factory in Germany to make the Porsche 917/10 and 917/30 complete racing cars had finally paid off in a race car that many considered the fastest race car ever built with which he would later set a new world closed-course speed record of 221.12 mph at the Talladega Speedway in 1975.

Donohue had planned to retire from driving at the end of the 1973 season only to come out of retirement for Penske’s ill-fated Formula 1 project. Mark Donohue had come a long way from the time he was offered $50 per day to work for Roger Penske.

1973 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Mark Donohue Roger Penske Racing Porsche 917/30 139
2 George Follmer Rinzler Motor Racing Royal Crown Porsche 917/10 62
3 Hurley Haywood Brumos Racing Porsche 917/10 47
4 Charlie Kemp Rinzler Motor Racing Royal Crown Porsche 917/10 45
5 Bob Nagel Nagel Racing Lola T260 44
6 Jody Scheckter Vasek Polak Racing Porsche 917/10 39

1974 Can-Am Season

Without new cars from Porsche, Lola or Mclaren for 1974, the Can-Am series was a Shadow of its former self. Due to the worldwide oil crisis a new fuel economy rules were put in place requiring the cars to get at least 3 mpg. This would force the Porsche powered cars to dial back their boost making a normally expired Chevy competitive again but it was not enough to lure the other factory teams to return.

The Shadow team finally created a sensible race car that actually finished races, the first of which was held at Mosport Park on the 16th of June. Oliver qualified on pole with his teammate next to him. At the preliminary heat both Shadows fought for the lead. The racing between these two seemed a lot more spirited than it ever was between the McLarens, the only issue was there was no other real competition and by the fourth lap they had come upon the backmarkers. Oliver was leading but was balked Follmer grabbed the lead. Follmer pulled away while Oliver had an issue with his fuel system. In the final Follmer was in the lead while Oliver had to start from near the rear of the pack. By lap four Oliver was already up to second, the other cars acting more like moving roadblocks that true competitors. Running over some debris caused Follmer to lose some time in the pits so Oliver who was nursing his car now found himself in the lead. Follmer tore off after Oliver setting lap record after lap record but in the end Oliver was just able to hold off the charging American. Jackie Oliver would lead a Shadow 1-2 with George Follmer coming in 2nd followed by Scooter Patrick driving a McLaren M20 for US Racing in 3rd.

The next race scheduled for Edmonton lost it’s promoter and was cancelled. Laguna Seca had also dropped it’s October date for a F5000 race instead. The series was now down to six races. Road Atlanta saw Follmer grab pole with Oliver next to him. Oliver took the lead while Follmer needed to pit due to a broken gear-shift linkage. By the end of the heat Follmer came in 5h with Oliver in 1st. In the final race Follmer was in second within the 1st lap followed by the rest of the field more than 7 seconds behind. A broken exhaust doomed Follmer and the race ended with another Shadow 1-2 with Oliver again leading Follmer. 3rd was Can-Am regular Lothar Motschenbacher. A Ferrari 512M driven by Herbert Müller came in 4th. The crowd at Atlanta was an empty 15,000. Can-Am was being abandoned.

Watkins Glen at least had it’s F5000 as well as 6-Hour endurance races to keep their fans interested. Follmer qualified his Shadow on poll with Oliver next to him. On the second row was Scooter Patrick in a Mclaren M20 and John Cordts on a Mclaren M8F. Brian Redman driving the Ferrari 712 in place of Sam Posey was starting from the rear not having set a time during qualifying. In the 20-lap preliminary race on Saturday Follmer lost the lead when a shock absorber broke while Redman charged from the back all the way into second behind Oliver. Patrick and Cordts both suffered engine failures. The race was won by Jackie Oliver while George Follmer came in second having started from the fifth row. Redman suffered a suspension failure of his own while Scooter Patrick finished in 3rd.

1974 Can-AmIt was calculated by Penske that Mid-Ohio was the one track where the new fuel restrictions would still allow their Porsche 917K-30 to be competitive so they asked Brian Redman if he would be interested in doing a one-off. He would be paid $5000 for his efforts. Redman would qualify the Porsche on pole, over 1 sec faster than the next nearest man, George Follmer driving the Shadow. The preliminary heat was run in a light rain and with neither Shadows on rain tires the Porsche ran away from them in the early going. Follmer spun his car and dove into the pits to change tires. Oliver attempted to continue on his dry tyres. The rain eased and the track started to dry but the Porsche held on. In the final race the Porsche and the two Shadows battled for the lead. While battling each other as if they were racing stock cars on a 1-mile oval the two black cars touched and Follmer spun into the grass. Follmer was called into the pit for the team to inspect his car for any damage but Follmer in a fit of pique thinking he was called in for a reprimand got out of his car and stormed off, leaving the circuit in his rental car!. Redman’s tires began to overheat and his prior instructions were to drive carefully and not wreck the valuable car so he continued the rest of the race at a reduced pace, finishing 2nd to Jackie Oliver.

Shadow DN4

Road America it was all Shadows, that was until Follmer’s half-shaft broke and Oliver’s engine blew. The race was won by a shocked Scooter Patrick followed by John Cordts in 2nd and John Gunn in 3rd. The next day there was a meeting promoters and SCCA officials in Chicago. The final round at Riverside was cancelled and the Canadian – American Challenge Cup was cancelled after five races. Though there was talk of the series continuing into 1975, nothing came of it and the dream was over.

1974 Can-Am Challenge Cup Results

1 Jackie Oliver Phoenix Racing Organizations Shadow D4N 82
2 George Follmer Phoenix Racing Organizations Shadow D4N 45
3 Scooter Patrick U.S. Racing McLaren M20 44
4 Bob Nagel Nagel Racing Lola T260 40
5 John Gunn Racing Specialties Lola T260 23
6 Lothar Motschenbacher Motschenbacher Racing McLaren M8F 21