Can-Am—Revson clinches title
Laguna Seca, California, October 17th.
Peter Revson won the Monterey-Castrol Grand Prix over the hilly, 1.9-mile Laguna Seca course in mid-October, but his fifth Can-Am victory of the year was marred by a total lack of competence on the part of the race organisers. After taking the lead at the start of the 90-lap, 171-mile event, Revson had little trouble seeing off his principal opposition—Jackie Stewart and the L & M Lola—as he was never headed during the afternoon. But a series of incredible circumstances led to his being black-flagged in error for blowing out an oily smoke screen on what should have been the last lap, but which, through a scoring mistake, was put down as the penultimate. Stewart received the chequered flag as he crossed the line hard on Revson's heels; Revson again received the black flag on the extra lap; and, finally, Revson was awarded the first place trophy in the victory circle!
This incredible succession of events caused considerable controversy, which completely overshadowed Revson's fine performance and ultimately resulted in a fine of $250 for ignoring a flag which should never have been dropped in the first place! The L & M protest over the final decision of the organisers was dismissed, but, by that time, few really cared about the outcome.
Two pieces of machinery, new to the current Series, made their respective debuts—the ex-Peter Bryant Ti22 titanium car driven by David Hobbs and sponsored by the Delta Tire Corporation, and BRM's P167 model entered by Sid Taylor and driven by Brian Redman. Hobbs stunned Series regulars with an excellent third fastest qualifying time (59.45 sec.—115.055 m.p.h.) ahead of Stewart's 59.75 sec. (114.477 m.p.h.), but Redman had to be content with the outside of the third row due to the breakage of the rear upper cross member. Gulf Team McLaren, meanwhile, outshone all the opposition to take the front row starting positions with Revson on the pole in 58.78 sec. (116.366 m.p.h.), thereby erasing the previous mark of 58.88 sec. (116.32 m.p.h.) established last year by Vic Elford and the 2J Chaparral. Elford had had a near thing during Thursday's unofficial session when he wrote off Roy Woods' ARA McLaren M8E, which had been especially clothed with an M8B bodyskin for the occasion. Woods assured Elford of a ride, however, when he quickly arranged to purchase Tony Dean's ex-works M8B.
At the start of the race, Revson took the lead, anxious to put some space between himself and the rest of the field, knowing full well that overtaking would be difficult. Hulme admirably performed the task of staving off the threats from the World Champion, which permitted Revson to forge ahead into what was shortly to become an unassailable lead. Adding interest downfield were the struggles involving Bob Brown and Chuck Parsons in M8E McLarens, Elford and Motschenbacher in M8Bs, and the smaller bore duo of Milt Minter (Porsche 917) and Jim Adams (Ferrari 512). Jackie Oliver in the UOP Shadow was hard at work dealing with Redman's BRM.
By lap 30, Revson, Hulme, Stewart, and Redman had lapped the field, with the leader solidly in front by almost 20 seconds. An off-course excursion into the spectator area by David Causey (Lola T222) and an ensuing fire fortunately produced no tragic results, and the race wore itself out into the amazing finish. Stewart had overtaken Hulme for the runner-up position on lap 16, but, by then, the race was literally too far gone for the outcome to be altered. Oliver completed but 23 laps before being forced to retire with throttle linkage bothers, while Hobbs left three laps later, being unable to re-start in the pits after a quick stop to replace his right front tyre.
Riverside, California, October 31st.
For the first time in the six-year life of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup Series, a North American actually took home the Group 7 title at the end of October, after the running of the 14th annual Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside International Raceway. Peter Revson, formerly of New York and now living at Redondo Beach, California, by finishing second to Denis Hulme, who won his third consecutive Times race, ended up first overall in the final points standings with 142 to his team leader's 132. With just the final event of the season to run, Revson needed only to finish higher than sixth to assure himself of the crown, while Hulme had to win and hope for something less than sixth place money for his smooth-driving companion.
But Revson was not to be denied, as he seemed willing to sacrifice the runner-up spot in the early stages (after being overtaken by Stewart and the L & M Lola) in order to guarantee himself an enviable place in Can-Am history. Hulme's reflected glory, however, was not without a certain lustre as the Kiwis' number one scored a clean sweep on the charts. He first of all took the pole position with a resounding 1 min. 31.96 sec. (129.186 m.p.h.), over a half-second better than the previous outright course mark established last year by Vic Elford and the 2J Chaparral. Then, after completing the 61-lap, 201.3-mile distance at the new record average of 123.727 m.p.h. in 1 hr. 37 min. 36 sec., he found he had also set f.t.d. on the third lap with a speed of 125.940 m.p.h. (1 min. 34.33 sec.).
The 49th Can-Am grid was formed with little ado, but with an unmistakable aura of tragedy due to the death the previous week of Jo Siffert. The Porsche was withdrawn by STP out of respect for the great competitor. Replacing Brian Redman in the BRM P167 was Bourne's number three, Howden Ganley, while a breakdown in communications resulted in Roy Woods' American Racing Associates employing the American George Follmer in lieu of Vic Elford. Sam Posey was added to the team in the new M8E McLaren—new since its rebuild after the Laguna Seca shunt.
The assault on the front row starting positions was in the customary McLaren fashion, with the outcome in doubt until Hulme's all-out attempt on Saturday afternoon. Follmer made his 1971 Series debut an auspicious one by qualifying fourth fastest, one second back of Stewart. Hobbs, however, had more than his share of bother with the Delta Tyre Ti22, as suspension and chassis breakages forced him to start at the rear of the grid with no official time to his credit.
Gulf Team McLaren's 38th march to victory in 49 attempts was fraught with drama in the early stages. Neither Oliver (UOP Shadow) nor Adamowicz (Jerobee McLaren) took their respective 5th and 8th grid spots—the former due to the reluctant replacement of his left front wheel and the latter because of starting difficulties. Adamowicz dashed to his position before the green flag fell but Oliver was a full lap in arrears when the 28-car field had filled out the charts for the first time.
As has been his wont for the past two seasons at the popular west coast facility, Hulme was quick off the mark, leaving Revson, Stewart, Follmer, Posey, Ganley, and Motschenbacher in his wake. But it was Hobbs and Oliver who attracted the most attention with their frantic rushes through the grid. Picking up 15 places on the opening lap, Hobbs was 7th within 10 laps, but his merry chase came to an end 9 laps later after an unplanned shunt with the retaining wall in turn 6, where a shattered left front wing forced him into retirement. Oliver, meanwhile, was equally impressive, moving ahead 15 positions in 10 laps until forced into the pits due to drive-shaft failure. The Series' top private entrant, the Japanese Hiroshi Kazato, and iron man, Lothar Motschenbacher, who has yet to miss a Can-Am start, both retired around one-third distance—the former with engine overheating and the latter due to a faulty oil cooler.
Stewart had overtaken Revson on the 8th lap and set out after Hulme, but it was a futile attempt as the sixth Can-Am Series ground away to its ultimate conclusion. L & M's final hopes were dashed when the 1971 World Champion retired the car with impending engine seizure on the 37th lap, permitting the McLarens an uninterrupted run to the chequered flag.—J. M.