Road America



With only a week between the fifth and sixth rounds (and less than that to overhaul the machinery), a number of cars appeared at the Road America circuit in Wisconsin in far from perfect mechanical condition. The Shadow did not appear at all, although Elford did obtain a ride in an older but unsorted Lola T70. Another English driver making his second Can-Am appearance of the year was David Hobbs, who was invited to drive the ex-Chaparral McLaren M12 now owned by Canadian Terry Godsall.

There was considerably less practice and qualifying time than usual at Road America and among the victims of this shortened timetable were Peter Revson and Peter Gethin. Revson had only one hour on the Friday to qualify his Lola before flying out to the Ontario Motor Speedway to qualify the works McLaren for the California 500 on Saturday (report in American Comment) and then returning to Road America for the Can-Am race on Sunday. Nonetheless, he quickly got down to the job at hand and at the time he left for California his Lola was on the front row next to Denis Hulme’s pole-winning McLaren M8D. Motschenbacher’s M8B was the third fastest qualifier but Gethin was a victim of the very short interval since the Mid-Ohio race. His M8D lost almost all its oil pressure as soon as it went out and he had to wait while the mechanics changed the pressure relief valve before he had another go. When the oil pressure again disappeared almost immediately, the mechanics knew the entire plumbing system was probably still fouled by the contamination that built up during the engine’s slow death at Mid-Ohio and they set about a more thorough cleaning and flushing operation than they had undertaken earlier. As a result, Gethin missed most of the first qualifying session and his hopes of starting near the front were completely dashed when it rained for most of the second session. The rain ensured that Hulme, Revson and Motschenbacher were safe in the first three places on the grid, and it was Hobbs who claimed the fourth position in his McLaren. Former Shelby and Ferrari driver Bob Bondurant was next in an older but well prepared Lola T160 (though with only a 7-litre engine) and Gethin had to be content with sixth place. Still, he was a lot better off than Eaton, who was unable to start his BRM when a cylinder head gasket failed during a pre-race warm-up session.

Revson caused something of a sensation when he came around in front on the first lap of the 50-lap, 200-mile race, but when both Hulme and Gethin swept past him on the second lap it was apparent that the Lola’s moment of glory was really by courtesy of the McLaren team. Hulme held the lead for a few more laps but then decided to “put on a show” for the crowd by turning the lead over to Gethin and dropping back to run just in front of Revson, Motschenbacher and Bob Brown, whose McLeagle (a Gurney-modified McLaren M6B) had rocketed up from 12th place. Revson retired after only 14 laps when a halfshaft failed but Hulme, still trying to put on a show for the spectators, then dropped back to third place behind Motschenbacher. He only stayed there for a few laps before setting out after Gethin, who by this time had built up a lead of over 25 sec. While Hulme was busy catching his team-mate, Motschenbacher crashed heavily when his left rear hub failed and although he was uninjured, the McLaren M8B was a writeoff.

Hulme caught and passed Gethin on lap 30 but eight laps later he was involved in a donnybrook when he spun and stalled his engine trying to avoid one of the mobile chicanes that should never be allowed into Can-Am races. Marshals quickly appeared to push him out of his dangerous position and while being pushed, and while Hulme had his finger on the starter button, the car started. Gethin meanwhile slowed down almost to a crawl to allow Hulme to catch up and the two McLarens took the chequered flag less than a car length apart, with Hulme leading. After listening to Hulme and the marshals involved (who said that Hulme popped the clutch while being pushed, the stewards then ruled that HuIme had received an illegal push start and that he would only be credited with 37 laps (the number completed before the infraction). Team manager Teddy Mayer then entered an appeal against the severity of the penalty, but meanwhile Gethin was declared the winner. Bob Brown, who was running unchallenged behind Gethin, was hit by a slower car three laps from the end and as a result Bob Bondurant finished second, one lap behind Gethin. Dave Causey, and Gary Wilson in newer Lola T163s were third and fourth, Tony Dean fifth in his 3-litre Porsche 908 and Brown sixth.—D. G.

Can-Am – Round 6 – Road America – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
1st:P. Gethin (7.6-litre McLaren M8D-Chevrolet) ………. 1 hr. 54 min. 16.1 sec. – 105.016 m.p.h.

2nd:B. Bondurant (7.0-litre Lola T160-Chevrolet ………. 49 laps

3rd:D. Causey (7.0-litre Lola T163-Chevrolet) ………….. 48 laps

4th:G. Wilson (7.6-litre Lola T163-Chevrolet) …………… 48 laps

5th:A. Dean (3.0-litre Porsche 908) ……………………….. 48 laps

6th:B. Brown (8.0-litre McLaren M6B) ……………………. 47 laps

7th:P. Rodriguez (5.0-litre Ferrari 512S) ………………….. 47 laps

8th:G. Lawrence (7.0-litre McLaren M12) ……………….. 47 laps

9th:D. Durant (7.0-litre Lola T163) …………………………. 46 laps

10th:R. Goldleaf (7.0-litre McLaren M6B) ……………….. 46 laps

Fastest lap:

D. Hulme (7.6-litre McLaren M8D, 2 min. 12.4 sec., – 108.761 m.p.h.