Can-Am 1970


After an interval of four weeks, the Can-Am circus returned to the United States for the fifth round of the series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. All the usual entrants were in attendance, though with a number of significant changes to their cars. Both works McLarens were using their larger 7.6-litre Chevrolet engines, the overheating that has plagued these units in previous races having been cured by the modified radiator outlet tried for the first time in the previous race at Edmonton. The rear suspension of George Eaton's BRM had been redesigned to eliminate the rear-wheel steer that produced such diabolical handling characteristics. This was accomplished by eliminating the lower radius arms and replacing them with shorter arms running back diagonally from the base of the uprights to a plate attached to the rear of the transmission. The radical AVS Shadow, which had not run since the second round at St. Jovite, reappeared with Vic Elford at the wheel but Elford soon found that there were far more drawbacks to the ultra-low design than there were advantages. The severe overheating which afflicted the car in the first two races had been overcome by moving the twin radiators from their position inside the wing to exposed locations on top of the rear fenders. Unfortunately, this exposed position, combined with the extreme angle of a new wing (which made it more of a spoiler than a wing) almost doubled the frontal area of the car and completely negated the original concept of a car with such low frontal area that its high speed down the straights would more than offset any cornering disadvantages imposed by the miniaturised suspension.

Two drivers joined the series for the first time this year, Pedro Rodriguez in a NART-entered, open-cockpit Ferrari 512S and former US road-racing champion Chuck Parsons in an older but well prepared Lola T160. The car was updated with a T163 body but it was handicapped in the power department by having only a 6-litre Chevrolet engine.

Qualifying developed into the usual battle between the McLaren team and "the rest" and this time "the rest" did quite well. Not well enough to win the pole position, which went to Denny Hulme quite comfortably, but well enough to keep Hulme's team-mate Peter Gethin back in fourth place. Lothar Motschenbacher qualified second fastest in his ex-works McLaren M8B and Peter Revson was third in his Lola T220. Rodriguez was fifth fastest, just ahead of the similar, semi-open cockpit Ferrari 512S driven by Jim Adams, while Elford and Parsons occupied the fourth row. The Mid-Ohio Circuit crams 15 turns into its 2.4 miles and is really much too tight for the big Can-Am cars because there is virtually no room to pass except on one medium length straight. As a result the race tends to become a procession and it is vitally important to make a good start. Hulme certainly realised the importance of this as he jumped into the lead at the first corner and then pulled away relentlesly to lead every single lap of the 80-lap, 192-mile race. Behind him, however. there was a real dogfight between Motschenbacher, Revson and Gethin (whose engine went sour with a worn camshaft lobe before the start and proceeded to get worse and worse as the race went on). Motschenbacher had a slight edge on Revson and was able to hold down second place for the first one-third of the race but then he began to lose his brakes and dropped to fourth behind Gethin. Revson then pulled away easily from Gethin's ailing McLaren and he held second place to the chequered flag, which he reached 77 sec. behind Hulme. His Lola was the only car not lapped by the winner. Gethin's engine became progressively worse and he was passed by Motschenbacher before it finally quit for good with eight laps to go. Motschenbacher then finished third, one lap down, with Parsons fourth in his older Lola. Eaton's BRM had started from the back of the grid as a result of engine trouble during qualifying but he really flew when the race began, climbing from 26th to seventh in seven laps before he retired with a sudden loss of fuel pressure. Elford went only nine laps before retiring the Shadow with at least one front wheel badly out of balance.—D. G.

Can-Am – Round 5 – Buckeye – Lexington
1st:D. Hulme (7.6-litre McLaren M8D Chevrolet) ............... 2 hr. 1 min. 03.3 sec – 95.163 m.p.h.

2nd:P. Revson (7.6-litre Lola T220 Chevrolet) ................... 2 hr. 2 min. 19.3 sec.

3rd:L. Motsenbacher (7.6-litre McLaren M8B Chevrolet) ... 79 laps

4th:C.Parsons (6.0-litre Lola T160/163 Chevrolet) ............. 77 laps

5th:G.Wilson (7.0-litre Lola T163) .................................... 76 laps

6th:R. McCaig (7.0-litre McLaren M8C) ............................ 75 laps

7th:D. Durant (7.0-litre Lola T163) .................................... 74 laps

8th:J.Adams/B. Bondurant (5.0-litre Ferrari 512S) ............. 72 laps

9th:P.Gethin (7.0-litre McLaren M8D) ............................... 71 laps

10th:B. Nagel (7.0-litre Lola T70-Ford) ............................. 70 laps

Fastest lap/em> D. Hulme (7.6-litre McLaren M8D-Chevrolet, 1 min. 28.8 sec. 97.30 m.p.h.