Taking the eye line...

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Most of the internaional stars raced in California in the ’70s.  Mike Hewitt caught them with his Pentax.

Wife and kids?  They get in the way of the important things in life like motor racing, don’t they?  Not so for Californian Mike Hewitt, whose family recently encouraged him to print up his slides and negatives from his 1970s collection, taken predominantly at Riverside, and send them to us.

Mike, who now works at racewear firm Sparco USA, used to sneak into the pit lane early in the morning during practice days, when security was lax.  His superb helmeted portraits of the stars of American and European motorsport arrived in our office a month or two back, and we had to share them with you.  Enjoy them — and thank his wife and kids!

Page 72:

–  François Cevert drove a year-old McLaren M8F in the 1972 Can-Am for Gregg Young’s Young American team.  Although outpaced by by the works McLarens and Penske Porsches, the Frenchman notched up a win at Donnybrooke.  This shot was taken at Riverside, where he failed to finish.  Note the sticker on the rear wing: Elf clearly wanted Cevert to carry its logos everwhere, not just on his F1 Tyrrell.

–  Peter Revson behind the wheel of a Porsche Carrera RSR just before the first-ever IROC meeting, Riverside 1973.  The series was originally organised by Roger Penske and ‘The Captain’s’ favourite, Mark Donohue, took the first title, but ‘Revvie’ ended second on points.  Revson was third, fourth and seventh in the Riverside triple-header, but boosted his position with a fine second in the final at Daytona in February 1974.

–  Emerson Fittipaldi in his IROC Porsche at Riverside ’73.  Fittipaldi was the only one of the 15 drivers who had not seen the track before, yet he qualified on pole.  Then, on Saturday morning, he got held up in Los Angeles traffic on the way to the circuit and missed the drivers’ briefing — the penalty was a back-of-grid start.  Seriously miffed he spun and damaged his car in race one and failed to qualify for the Daytona final.

–  No aplogies for including this gorgeous shot of Hans Stuck, even though he got five pages in last month’s mag!  This is the German during practice for the first F1 Long Beach Grand Prix in 1976.  Stuck had a bad time in qualifying and scraped his March into 18th place on the 20-car grid.  He passed Alan Jones and Chris Amon on lap two then clattered into Emerson Fittapaldi next time round, putting both men out.

Page 73:

–  A young Jody Scheckter is unaware that he’s just starting out on the road to winning his first major international racing title, the 1973 US Formula 5000 crown.  Jody put his Sid Taylor Trojan T101 on pole for the opening round at Riverside, but was passed by Brian Redman in his heat and finished second.  Scheckter was again beaten by Redman in the final, but the South African would go on to claim the championship. 

–  A very rare shot of Niki Lauda in IROC.  This is 1978 when the format had changed so that drivers from different disciplines had to race together to qualify for the contest proper. The great Austrian put his Camaro on the second row (alongside Patrick Depailler) for the road-racers’  Riverside heat, but his clutch failed at the start and that was it: after just a few seconds he was out of the series.

–  Graham Hill in IROC.  By late 1974, when the shot was taken, the series had converted from Porsches to Chevrolet Camaros.  Hill, who was less that a year from retirement, had almost as miserable a time as he’d endured during his just-completed final full F1 season:  he failed to finish the opener at Michigan, then was 10th and sixth at Riverside to take 11th in points.  At least he beat Jody Scheckter!

–  Rolf Stommelen gets ready for the six-hours Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside in April 1979.  He led the race in a Porsche 935 shared with Brian Redman and Dick Barbour, but at half-distance Redman tripped over a backmarker and the car was delayed while a new wing and engine cover were fitted.  They finished sixth.  Four years later Stommelen would lose his life on the same track.