Brainerd, Minnesota, September 12th
Peter Revson won his fourth Can-Am race of the season at Donnybrooke International Speedway, an ultra-quick 3-mile circuit 100 miles north of the city of Minneapolis in the US midwest. The McLaren driver made it look relatively simple by taking control at the end of the second lap and leading team mate Hulme to the chequered flag in a time of 1 h. 45 min. 45.643 sec. at an average speed of 119.137 m.p.h. Hulme completed the rout by setting fastest lap near the halfway point—1 min. 27.86 sec. (122.923 m.p.h.)—as Gulf Team McLaren lapped the field in the first showing this season of the awesome power that formerly characterised the scourge of the sports-racing scene in America.
In this the final event before the commencement of the westward swing of the series, Revson and Hulme ground every other qualifier into the dirt by a resounding 3-sec. margin. Revson had taken the number one starting position with a record-breaking 1 min. 26.51 sec. (124.957 m.p.h.) lap while Hulme had to be content to fill out the front row of the 22-car grid four-tenths in arrears. Jackie Stewart and the L & M Lola were simply no match for the McLaren onslaught, and the World Champion was not pleased with his best effort of 1 min. 29.144 sec. (121.152 m.p.h.).
The Paul Newman-sponsored team, headed by Lother Motschenbacher, had found a replacement for the recently departed Bob Bondurant, in the person of Gregg Young, an inexperienced youth whose first claim to fame had been the questionable honour of virtually destroying a 512 Ferrari in a flaming shunt during the 12 Hours of Sebring last March.
At the start, Stewart vaulted into the lead from the second row of the grid to lead the field down the 4,000-ft.-long main straight. It was a futile attempt, however, as Revson nosed ahead before the end of lap 3 and from then on never looked like being beaten. Never one to give up, Stewart held Hulme at bay for 21 laps until forced into the pits certain that something had gone awry in the Lola’s complicated suspension system. Finding nothing amiss he soon rejoined, but it was too late, and though he fought back gamely, the race belonged to Revson, who assured the McLarens of their fifth consecutive J-Wax trophy.
Young’s rise through the field to wrap up third place highlighted the downfield action, and as advertised by the circuit management, the main straight was named in his honour for being the first human to exceed 200 m.p.h. down its length. Vic Elford was fourth after a last-minute stop for a change of left rear wheel because of a puncture; while Jo Siffert continued to push the 917-10 STP Porsche into the front ranks, while handicapped by a slowly vanishing fuel supply.
Edmonton, Alberta, September 26th
No one in his right mind would have given tuppence for the 8th Can-Am race at Edmonton’s International Speedway at the end of September. For, after the weatherman had turned out a brilliant sun for the opening day of practice, the climatic conditions soon degenerated into a bitterly cold reminder that Winter is on its way. Nonetheless, the best racing of the Series was produced by the trio of Stewart, Hulme, and Jackie Oliver, the latter turning in what must rank as the finest drive of his career in the Universal Oil Products Shadow Mark II. The outcome was in doubt right until the bitter end, and the race-long dice between Hulme and Oliver, while Stewart forged ahead seemingly unbeatable, kept a small crowd fixed to their frozen seats under temperatures that hovered in the mid-30s F., a steady drizzle that showed signs of turning into snow at any instant, and a chill north wind.
Qualifying hardly provided a foretaste of the excitement that was to come, as the McLarens headed once more by Revson put the 21-car grid to flight. Revson was all of 1.1 sec. ahead of Hulme at 1 min. 20.3 sec. (113.290 m.p.h.) over the 2.527-mile road circuit, while Stewart again languished on the second row nearly 2 sec. off the pace. The Molson Can-Am, as the event was billed, marked the return of Los Angeles’ Jim Adams and the ex-Amon Ferrari. A satisfactory engine had finally been cobbled up by Traco Engineering of California with a new supply of spares from Modena, but the NGK-sponsored team was disappointed that a new 7-litre engine had not been forthcoming.
Closer to home, considerable technical interest was aroused by the first attempt by Toronto’s David Billes to turbocharge a 7.6-litre (465 c.i.d.) Chevrolet. Driver John Cordts was new at the game as well, but the Air Research blower had to be regrettably removed for the race after the welded-up aluminium plenum chamber on top of the petrol injector stacks refused to withstand the booster pressure.
The race started without the fastest qualifier. Revson’s crew had found a 3/8-in. bolt in the Chevy’s innards minutes before the grid was positioned and its extrication was not complete until the race was 11 laps old but then Revson joined in the fun. Though Hulme took the lead down the front straight, which serves alternately as a drag strip, it was Stewart who was the first one recorded on the lap charts. Oliver overtook the lonely McLaren the very next time ’round, setting the stage for the finest dice seen in Can-Am racing since the bygone battles between Jim Hall and the late Bruce McLaren.
Despite the damp conditions, all the front runners had opted for dry treads, and, while Stewart slowly built up his lead to an unprecedented 47 sec. Hulme and Oliver were having a tremendous dice for second place. All else paled into insignificance, with Oliver performing incredible feats of roadholding to stay within striking distance. Throughout the race there was no let-up, but Hulme managed to gain second place at the start of lap 25 after the first of Oliver’s confrontations with some half-buried tyres on the verges of turns 1 and 2. Stewart’s spin-out on lap 42 dropped his margin to 17 sec., which gave Hulme just the incentive he needed on the drying track and he started to press the Lola, no doubt contributing to Stewart’s second spin, 13 laps from the finish. Before the Scot regained the track Hulme was through into a lead which from then on increased as Stewart slowed suspecting a possible suspension fault. Despite a pit stop Oliver was an excellent third ahead of Siffert and the hard driving Minter.—J. M.
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