This year’s Can-Am series is certainly shaping up as the most closely fought for years. Basically, that means that the Gulf McLaren team isn’t having it all its own way. Just to re-cap, Denny Hulme, in the new McLaren M20, won the opening round at Mosport in Canada in June but only alter Mark Donohue struck trouble in the Penske Porsche. Round two at Road Atlanta, in early July, saw both Donohue and Hulme crash. Donohue crashed in private testing and put himself out of racing for the rest of the season, while Hulme was eliminated in the race when the McLaren did a backward flip! Meanwhile US veteran George Follmer took over the spare Penske Porsche and went on to win the race.
Round 3 of the series was at Watkins Glen, at the end of July, and here the see-saw was back in the favour of McLaren Racing. Hulme set the fastest lap in practice and led from start to finish. Team-mate Peter Revson finished second and one of last year’s works McLarens driven by Francois Cevert was third ahead of David Hobbs in the latest Lola T310 and Follmer, who ran into turbo-charger problems.
Round 4 was on August 6th at Mid-Ohio and here Follmer was just 0.1 sec. faster than Hulme in practice. In the race it rained spasmodically and Hulme made a total of five pit stops to change tyres, each time out-fumbling himself, while Follmer led from start to finish. Jack Oliver gave the Shadow an excellent second place while Milt Minter was third in his non-turbo Porsche. Round 5 was at Road America on August 27th—too late to catch this issue.
While the Can-Am Championship is still in its relatively early stages, the European Formula Two Championship has seen rounds 9 and 10 completed in recent weeks. Both have been won by Team Surtees cars and in both races Peter Gethin in the works Chevron has been the fastest runner and won the first heat on each occasion, only to retire in the second. Round 9 was at Imola in Italy on July 22nd, where overall victory went to John Surtees himself. Although he finished third in one heat, and fourth in the other, he was still the aggregate winner from promising Frenchman Bob Wollek (he won heat two with his Rondel Brabham), Niki Lauda’s works March and Andrea de Adamich’s Surtees. Two weeks later the F2s were in a very different part of Europe—in Sweden at Mantorp Park. Both the Swedish aces, Ronnie Peterson and Reine Wisell, were destined to retire and this time victory went to Mike Hailwood, after Gethin walked the first heat and then crashed in the second when something on the Chevron broke. Hailwood’s win puts him in a sound lead of the Championship and made sponsors Matchbox very happy for it was the former Motorcycle champion’s first win in F2. Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud finished second and third, in March and Brabham respectively, while the American driver Brett Lunger logged up his best European result with a fourth place.
Round 11 of the Championship was down at the Sicilian circuit of Enna where Henri Pescarolo scored a surprise win for the Rondel Brabham team on August 20th. Earlier in the week Arturo Merzario had won the 2-litre Sports Car Championship race for Abarth at the same track.
The past weeks have seen two major International F3 events. The first was on July 29th at Thruxton, which was a round of the French Championship but not the British. Current F3 top dog Roger Williamson with his GRD nipped by Mike Walker’s Ensign on the last corner to score a surprise win, with the works Alpine-Renaults from France, driven by Leclere and Sepaggi, in third and fourth places. Two weeks later Williamson handed out another thrashing to the Alpines, this time on their home ground, the bleak Paul Ricard stadium circuit. But in post-race scrutineering Williamson’s Holbay engine was found not to comply with the regulations and so the Alpines of Leclere, Serpaggi and Guitteny took the first three places, with Frenchmen also fourth and fifth.
In the world of American USAC Championship car racing everything has been going the way of Joe Leonard and the Vel’s-Parnelli Jones team with their Maurice Phillipe-designed cars. Leonard, who is 38 and comes from San Jose, California, has never reckoned to be one of the very fastest USAC runners but he has an uncanny knack for bringing a car home when others drop out. Last year the former motorcycle racer won Indianapolis in such a fashion and, in the last few weeks, has won three USAC races in a row—the Milwaukee 200, the Michigan 200 and, most important of all, the Pocono 500—all after early leaders had dropped out. — A. R. M.