Can Am


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McLaren M8B
 

George Eaton - BRM P154The car was designed and built in house to compete in the 1970 Can-Am series for Group 7 cars by Tony Southgate, who had joined British Racing Motors in 1969. Southgate had worked earlier at Lola working on the T70.

While he worked on the Formula 1 BRM P153 car he was tasked to design a CAN-Am car as part of the project 154. For the new BRM Can-Am car, Southgate developed a very conventional aluminum monocoque chassis with independent suspension on all four corners. While BRM, like Ferrari, usually produced all major components in-house, the specific needs of Can-Am racing prompted the manufacturer to use a third-party drivetrain. This consisted of a big-block Chevrolet V8 engine and a Hewland four-speed gearbox though an engine shop was set up to further develop the engine.

Known as the P154, the new BRM was clothed in a lightweight fiberglass body. Tony Southgate believed sufficient downforce could be created by a wedge-shaped body, so no separate rear wing was fitted. Instead the rear body-work boasted a 'ducktail' that was 83in. wide. They had intended the body to cover a pair of special wide rear Firestone tires that never appeared. The broad nose featured a low-mounted radiator intake with the hot air exiting ahead of the cockpit. The P154 was finished in white with red and green stripes courtesy of sponsor Castrol. Testing of the new car was minimal and it was sent off to America with mechanics Roger Bailey who formerly worked with Chris Amon and his Can-Am effort and Mike Underwood to sort out.

BRM P154Tasked to drive the BRM P154 was the team's Canadian driver George Eaton, who had previously raced in the Can-Am with private entries. The car was ready for the opening round at Mosport where Eaton qualified seventh but failed to finish with mechanical issues. This revealed a weakness in BRM's operation caused mainly by the lack of experience with running and more importantly properly tuning the big American engine. All this was briefly forgotten a fortnight later when Eaton placed third at Mont-Tremblant. This success was short-lived as Eaton would not finish another race that season due a myriad of problems. For the final three races, he was joined by BRM's #1 driver Mexican Pedro Rodriguez; the team's principal F1 driver. He actually faired little better, finishing ninth at Donnybrooke, fifth at Laguna Seca and third at Riverside.

BRM P154

After coming third at Riverside, he (Pedro Rodriguez) told me it was the worst car he’d ever driven. That really embarrassed me. He was always so brave and uncomplaining, so it must have been really bad.
Tony Southgate - Motorsport Magazine

BRM P167Following the disappointing season, the car was reworked with heavily revised aerodynamics. A shovel nose and a separate rear wing were added to a chassis with an additional 9in. wheelbase to create a more stable platform. The new Group 7 racer was known as the P167 and it is believed that both an existing P154 chassis and a brand new car was built. To test the water, the P167 was first entered in the European Interserie Championship for Brian Redman. The changes had clearly paid off as Redman took two wins. Following the promising results, one car was shipped to North America for the final Can-Am rounds. Howden Ganley drove the car to fourth at Laguna Seca and Redman was back behind the wheel at Riverside where he finished third.

In the end BRM’s Can-Am program suffered from the fact that they were a Grand Prix team that was merely dabbling in the Can-Am.


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