Can-Am

History

During the 1960's in the United States, there were many forms of racing. There were drag races, stock cars, midget cars, and the crown jewel of motorsport, the Indy 500. Unlike Europe, race teams had cheap access to large & powerful engines. The Canadian-American Challenge Cup or Can-Am, grew out of taking a big-block Chevy and plopping it on a tube-frame chassis. This 'gearhead' approach to prototype sports car road racing grew from the amature races organized by the sanctioning body, the SCCA. It yielded a series that was uniquely American. Its 'rugged individualist' spirit was a refreshing change from the calculated European teams.

It started out as a high-paying championship that pulled in drivers from other disciplines such as F1, USAC, and Trans-Am series. It evolved into what had the fastest, most powerful cars in racing history.

While it was great fun to have as few rules as possible, the down side is that one car would dominate the whole season. First it was Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, then it went to the Porsche 917/10, then to Mark Donohue's 917/30. The winner of the races was all but predetermined, so there was little to cheer about. Can-Am folded in 1974.

The Book

I could go on and on repeating the Can-Am stories done over the years. And since I was five years old when I saw my last Can-Am race, I can probably say I have nothing origial to add. But I do distinctly remember the UOP Shadow cars being loud and black.

The thing to do is buy Pete Lyons book simply called "Can-Am". (I'll do a link to Amazon one of these days).

Diecast

Quality diecast Can-Am cars were unavailable until 1999. Best of Italy put out a few Lola T70's, and then Minichamps followed up with the famous 917/30. There are actually quite a few "period" diecast cars from Solido and Mercury which vary in quality. Be aware that the standards are nowhere near a modern manufacturer's, and you are buying for the "historical relevance" and not the detail.

GMP and Fly

For a while everyone was jumping on the 1:43 Can-Am bandwagon, and Spanish slot-car giant Fly put out some impressive Lola T-70 Spyder boxed verisons. GMP (Georgia Marketing and Productions) also made versions of the Lola T-70 and Mclaren M8A & M8B. This seemed great at first but eventually GMP pulled out and have since cancelled the Mclaren M8D series. Part of their failure was a matter of poor timing, as the Minichamps Versions of the same cars were released almost simultaneously

1966

Surtees Lola

John Surtees ran a works Lola T70 and helped develop the T70MkII .

Mark Donohue Lola

The Penske Donohue car is a special from Ste. Jovite 1966, the first-ever Can-Am Race. Mark was classified dead last after a steering fire? I mean really, how does a steering mechanism catch fire? Must have been a bad day, as he even had to tack on a 1 to make his car number 16.

Incidentally, Ste. Jovite returned to somewhat competitive racing when it hosted a Grand-Am event in 2002.

United States Road Racing Championship 1966

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

Bridgehampton
17Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
George Wintersteen
12
Eagle's Race
2004
Watkins Glen
5Lola T70 Spider 'Bardahl'
Jerry Grant
8
Best
9262

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1966

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

Ste. Jovite
1Lola T70 Spider
John Surtees
3
GMP
('Team Surtees'
Box Set)
12402
DNFLola T70 Spider 'Sunoco'
Mark Donohue
16
Best
9214
   Best
('Wild About Wheels' Series)
WAW001
   GMP
('Penske Racing'
Box set)
12401 
Bridgehampton
1Lola T70 Spider
Dan Gurney
30
Best
9189
GMP
12403
   Fly
FLY 04
7 Lola T70 Spider 'Bardahl'
Jerry Grant
8
GMP
12404
Riverside
1Lola T70 Spider
John Surtees
7
Best
9176
   Fly
FLY 01 
   Spark
S1173 
DNFLola T70 Spider
Parnelli Jones
98
Best
9179
Las Vegas
1Lola T70 Spider
John Surtees
7
GMP
('Team Surtees'
Box Set)
12402
Nassau (Independent Governour's Cup Group 7 Race)
1Lola T70 Spider 'Pepsi'
Mark Donohue
7
Best
('Wild About Wheels' Series)
WAW003

GMP
('Penske Racing'
Box set)
12401
DNFLola T70 Spider
A. J Foyt
83
Best
9292
Test
Lola T70 Spider
John Surtees
Test
GMP
('Team Surtees'
Box Set)
12402

"I am Lothar of the Hill People"

Lothar Motschenbacher (no relation to Engelbert Humperdink or Rumpelstiltskin) had eneough talent to almost win more races than anyone else amost won. Even Sam Posey.

1967

United States Road Racing Championship 1967

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

Las Vegas
6Lola T70 Spider 'Quaker State'
Charlie Kolb
12
Best
9344

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1967

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1McLaren M6A
Bruce McLaren
4
SparkS1110

9

Lola T70 Spider
Roger McCluskey

52

Fly

FLY 03

Laguna Seca
10Lola T70 Spider
Peter Revson
52
Best
9177

Fly

FLY 02

15Lola T70 Spider
Lothar Motschenbacher
11
Best
9226
Riverside
6Lola T70 Spider
George Follmer
16
Best
9237
DNFLola
Dan Gurney
36
GMP
12405

1968

The mysterious Japan Can-Am Races...

In the late 1960's there were several top-level sports prototype races in Japan, the most important being the annual "Japan GP" for world championship cars. Both Nissan and Toyota had full factory teams for these races. In 1968 and 1969, there were also true Group 7 races that attracted several American Can-Am teams.

These races are very poorly documented, and niether a complete entry nor results list exists.

United States Road Racing Championship 1968

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

Mexico City
1McLaren M6B
Moises Solana
99
Spark
S1113
Las Vegas
McLaren M6B
Lothar Motschenbacher
11
Spark
S1112

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1968

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

Presentation
Ferrari 612 Can-Am
(Aluminum Presentation Version)

Red Line
RL190
Regular Season
1McLaren M8A
Denny Hulme
5
Minichamps
530 684305
   GMP
12421
2McLaren M8A
Bruce McLaren
4
Minichamps
530 684304
   GMP
12422
McLaren M6B
Mark Donohue
6
Spark
S1111
Las Vegas (Round 6)
DNFFerrari 612 Can-Am
Chris Amon
23
Red Line
RL150
Japan Can-Am Fuji 200 (Non-Championship Race)
1McLaren M6B
Peter Revson
52
Spark
S1114

1969

The structure of the series changes greatly in 1969. The USRRC races were absorbed into the Can-Am series, which expanded the schedule.

Bruce rocked all in '69. The NART team ran a one-off race of the 3-litre 312P and did well against far more powerful cars.

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1969

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1McLaren M8B Chevrolet
Bruce McLaren
4
Minichamps
530 694304
   GMP
12424
   Solido
100 Series
176
2McLaren M8B
Denny Hulme
5
Minichamps
530 694305
   GMP
12425
1McLaren M8B Chevrolet
Dan Gurney
1
GMP
12423
Brigehampton
5Ferrari 312
Pedro Rodriguez
12
Best
9180
Edmonton
1Chaparral 2H (High Wing)
John Surtees
7
P
Minichamps
436 691497
Laguna Seca
1Chaparral 2H
John Surtees
7Minichamps
436 691407
Riverside
1Porsche 908
Tony Dean
8Best9201
Japan Can-Am Fuji 200 (Non-Championship Race)
1Toyota 7
Minoru Kawai
8
Ebbro
43713
N/CToyota 7
???
6
Ebbro
43711
N/CToyota 7
???
7
Ebbro
43712

1970

Japanese promises...

Even though the Japan GP was cancelled, the Toyota team upgraded the Model 7 car to twin-turbo power. The plan was for a full assault on the Can-Am series. However, these cars would never race as a series of freak testing crashes took the lives of two drivers. The cars listed here were from a promotional demo run at Fuji.

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1970

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1McLaren M8D
Denny Hulme
5
Minichamps
530 704305
   GMP
(Unreleased)
12427
2McLaren M8B
Lothar Motschenbacher
11
GMP
12426
3McLaren M8D
Peter Gethin
7
Minichamps
530 704397
7McLaren M8D
Dan Gurney
48
Minichamps
530 704307
   GMP
(Unreleased)
12428
11March 707 'STP'
Chris Amon
77
Solido
100 Series
199
2McLaren M8B
Oscar Kovaleski
54
GMP
12430
Laguna Seca
1Chaparral 2J
Vic Elford
66
P
Minichamps
436 701466
Watkins Glen
1Chaparral 2J
Jackie Stewart
66
P
Minichamps
(Unreleased)
436 701496

1971

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1971

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1McLaren M8F
Peter Revson
7
Minichamps
530 714307
2McLaren M8F
Denny Hulme
5
Minichamps
530 714305
5McLaren M8D
Lothar Motschenbacher
11
GMP
(Unreleased)
12429

1972

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1972

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1Porsche 917/10 'L&M'
George Follmer
7
Solido
100 Series
18A
4Porsche 917/10 'L&M'
Mark Donohue
6
Solido
Racing
1944
Watkins Glen
9Porsche 908/2
Tony Dean
68
Best
9065
Mosport
1McLaren M20
Denny Hulme
5
Spark
S1115

1973

Mclaren M20

After the McLaren factory team failed to win the championship in 1972, they left Can-Am and sold all three M20's to private teams.

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1973

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1Porsche 917/30
'Sunoco'
Mark Donohue
6
Minichamps
436 736006
Del Prado('World Racing Car Collection')
13Porsche 917/10
'Air Canada'
Hans Wiedmer
4
Verem
(Edition Limitée)
608
Watkins Glen
2Mclaren M20
'Black Label'
David Hobbs
4
Spark
S1117
Laguna Seca
6Lola T260
'Thermo King'
Bob Nagel
17
Spark
S1136
Riverside
DNSMclaren M20
Mario Andretti
96
Spark
S1118

1974

Canadian-American Challenge Cup 1974

Place

Car
Sponsor

Car # Class

Model

Ref. #

Image

1Shadow DN4
Jackie Oliver
101
Spark
S1120
Watkins Glen
6Porsche 908
Dennis Aase
16
Best
9270

In 1977 it re-emerged as part of the privateer Formula 5000 series. In a unique move, the cars were center-seat open-wheel chassis with bolt-on shells. There were some big names like Bobby Rahal and Jacques Villeneuve (Gilles brother, not son) who took part.