Can Am


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Can Am
Don Packwood Gallery


 
 

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.

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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.

Auto WorldIn 1958, Oscar Koveleski founded Auto World in the basement of his home, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The small mail order hobby business soon grew to great proportions and became well known for its annual product catalogs, which were filled with every car-related item an adolescent hobbyist might desire. From plastic model kits, to large-and small-scale slot racing cars, gas-powered cars, hobby tools, scratch-building supplies, paint and spray guns --- Auto World was a one stop mail-order shop for young modelers everywhere.

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 Canadian - American Challenge Cup
         
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