American comment

The sixth year of Can-Am competition in America saw Team McLaren once again on the receiving end of the major share of a $1-million prize, accessory, and qualifying prize fund. Final tabulated statistics show the overall winner, Peter Revson, to have earned $192,000, and Hulme, who finished in the runner-up position, $138,937, making the tidy sum of $320,937 (approximately £128,000) for the enrichment of the Colnbrook-based racing team. As to the profitability of the operation, that is altogether another matter.

In 1969, Bruce McLaren had said that at least $200,000 must be won before the team would begin to show a credit balance in the ledgers. This was even with sizeable contributions from sponsors like Goodyear, Gulf, Reynolds, and, more recently, Coca-Cola. Allowing for the customary inflationary tendencies so prevalent today, it is doubtful if more than $50,000 of the gross winnings can be considered profit. Even that might be on the high side. A reputable can-am competitor has voiced the opinion that it should cost at least $1/4-million to run a competitive two-car team for the entire Series. Bearing in mind the state of preparation of the McLarens, their employment of a US-based centre of administration, and all the attendant expenses, it is quite probable that the break-even point was reached—and that, just barely.

The Series top ten money winners are as follows:

1. Peter Revson .. $192,000
2. Denis Hulme .. 138,937
3. Jackie Stewart .. 95,950
*4. Jo Siffert .. 53,900
5. Lothar Motschenbacher .. 49,700
6. Tony Adamowicz .. 27,500
7. Milt Minter .. 25,400
8. Chuck Parsons .. 24,500
9. Vic Elford .. 23,850
10. Hiroshi Kazato .. 21,250
* deceased.

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A strange development on the commercial side of motor racing on this continent has a pair of prominent racing teams in somewhat of a quandry as to their future course of action. In a recent ruling of the US Federal Trade Commission, race drivers have been prevented from endorsing the worth, value, and/or desirability of products for children. Those prominently affected are USAC's Al Unser, winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 and 1971, and drag racer Don Prudhomme.

According to an FTC spokesman, though these men might be experts in the field of racing, "....they are not experts in the field of toys, and that makes their endorsements deceptive as to the value of the products. Unser is sponsored by the makers of Johnny Lightning miniature cars (Topper toys), while Prudhomme is backed by the Hot Wheels organisation.

No word has yet been received whether either or both sponsors are giving their respective involvements second thoughts.

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The toll has now risen to three among the number of major US car makers who have decided against participating in next April's International Auto Show in New York city. General Motors released their decision late last week, joining two fellow competitors, American Motors and Chrysler Corporation, who had previously opted out of the annual east coast exhibition. No decision has yet been reached by Ford, but the reasons behind the withdrawal of three major manufacturers include not only the huge outright capital costs of their exhibits.

In their news release, GM alluded to the high theft rate in past cars, but said that its disinclination to take part was based solely on business judgment, despite a statement on the part of an exhibition official that thievery had reached such a degree that the entire exposition and convention industry is threatened.

New York city officials are presently hard at work attempting to convince GM to reconsider, not only to have them return, but also to forestall similar action by the sole remaining member of the "Big Three" who is still committed to taking part—the Ford Motor Company.

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Major changes have been announced within the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) for 1972. The Grand National, continent-wide schedule has been split into "Grand National East" and "Grand National West", with drivers competing for divisional tides in approximately 30 races each. This split, however, will only affect races of 150 miles in length or less, since the Winston Cup championship will continue and will consist of about 32 events with the customary number of enduro-type attractions over super speedways like Daytona and Charlotte.

R. J. Reynolds' Winston cigarette division has added to its already considerable financial contribution by posting $30,000 to be divided into two points' funds for the new east and west divisions, while continuing to post $100,000 for the Winston Cup series. Though the latter schedule will remain open only to cars built during the last three years, the new championship divisions will permit eligibility of cars up to four years old.

Commenting on the changes, NASCAR President, Bill France said: "We feel the changes will benefit the entire sport.... will make it possible for more top flight drivers and teams to pursue the Winston Cup ... also sponsorship for teams should be easier to procure with the broader exposure".—J. M.