Posts Tagged ‘1967 Road America Can Am’

(B D’Olivo)

Jim Hall and his Chaparral 2G Chev look surreal juxtaposed against the Mojave Desert, Stardust GP, Las Vegas in November 1967…

Other worldly really, which of course they were. Like so many of us outside North America i missed the Can Am but have always been fascinated by it. One of THE great racing categories ever with some marvellous circuits, Bridghampton for me the most photogenic and Las Vegas the least. But not this monochrome, sundown shot by Bob D’Olivo which has a magic, eerie, feel to it. Hall failed to finish the race won by John Surtees’ Lola T70 Mk3B Chev.

Wings were well and truly a Chaparral paradigm by then, it wasn’t until 1968 they appeared in Grand Prix racing.


Chap 2G Chev, Road America pitlane September 1967. Jim Hall, Q7 and 4th in the race won by Denny Hulme’s McLaren M6A Chev. First race of the ’67 Can Am. The Papaya McLaren era is underway (D Friedman)

I wonder if the demonstrable pace of the winged 2F’s throughout Europe in 1967, campaigning in the World Manufacturers Championship effectively forced other designers to look at an area of aerodynamics they didn’t understand? That is, they could be ignored in the US as some sort of big car Can Am aberration, but the monthly sight of the things on ‘your own doorstep’ performing so well, if somewhat unreliably, forced a closer look. Check out my 2F article;

And so it was that wings flourished unfettered in F1 during 1968. And were then reigned back in after CSI dictates over the 1969 Monaco GP weekend in response to some appalling engineering, make that under-engineering of said wing support structures.


Series of body and aero shots of the Chap 2G at Road America (D Friedman)

Innovation is such an interesting thing. I mean that literally. Stuff being different to an existing paradigm makes it interesting because of its difference. Same, same, is boring doncha reckon?

We don’t get a lot of innovation in most of our motor racing classes these days, be it single-seaters, sportscars, or ‘taxis’. The rules either mitigate against it or mandate conformity of approach. Not least in F1. Often such rule changes or evolution has occurred to ‘contain costs’ and ‘ensure the drivers can compete on equal terms’. Who says that the latter is a good idea other than in the most junior of formulae where history tells us that uniformity of core package has worked well.


Jim Hall, Road America, September ’67 (D Friedman)

The funny thing about Jim Hall, Chaparral and innovation is that the powers that be were happy to allow their creativity to run free whilst the cars weren’t race winners. But when they were, or appeared to be, with the 1970 2J ‘Sucker’ it was legislated out of existence. So, in that sense we can be thankful that Jim, Hap, and Phil didn’t win more races or perhaps these wonderful cars may have been restricted by the intervention of vested interests of the paradigm much earlier!

God bless the innovators though, we need some. Now. And rules that allow differences of approach. Times are more complex than the sixties though. My polemic on F1 a while back supported innovation amongst other changes but how can it be afforded?


Chap 2G looks as modern as tomorrow- as a reference point one needs to look at its sportscar and single-seater peers. Road Am ’67. Aluminium monocoque 2C based chassis. Engine aluminium 427 cid Chev 90 degree, pushrod OHV injected V8, circa 525 bhp @ 6000 rpm. Chaparral/GM 3 speed ‘automatic’ transaxle, circa 780 kg (D Friedman)

Jim’s wings, automatic gearboxes and fibreglass monocoques were relatively simple (but very clever) whereas innovation now, will probably involve ‘power units’ of massive complexity and cost akin to the current ones used in the highly restricted and complex F1. Which means major manufacture involvement and resultant ‘winners and losers’, ‘haves and have nots’ in terms of the approaches which are successful and those which are dogs. Teams ability to afford such equipment is an issue with potential impacts on grid size.

But that’s probably a good thing, smaller more interesting grids of different looking and sounding cars has to be preferable to the highly contrived, boring sameness we see now?

Anyway, here is to innovators, god bless em…


Exquisite detail wherever you look, 2G cockpit, Road Am ’67 (D Friedman)

Photo Credits…

Bob D’Olivo, Dave Friedman

Tailpiece: Truly wild in profile, Chaparral 2G Chev, Road America, 3 September 1967…


(D Friedman)



Bruce McLaren poses for this studio shot on 26 April 1967…

He was the all-rounder; tester, driver, designer, engineer, company director…and male model! I bet Teddy Mayer had to twist his arm for this job tho. ‘Daily Express’ shot so it was possibly to go with a feature on the multi-talented Kiwi Champion.

A good year, the team took its first Can Am title, Bruce winning in the M6A Chev he co-designed with Robin Herd. He raced a factory Ford GT40 Mk4, in sports car events, one of Dan Gurney’s Eagle T1G’s whilst his own GP car was made race-ready, then of course there were the Elva built customer cars to consider and sponsors to look after. And a company to run…

Credit: McKeown/Getty Images, Dave Friedman Archive, The Enthusiast Network


McLaren and his M6A Chev at the 1967 Road America Can Am, Denny Hulme won this round. Look closely and you can see the ‘McLaren Engines Flower Power’ decal on the 6 litre, injected, ‘Heavy-Chevys’ rocker cover! (Dave Friedman)


Bruce McLaren, Road America September 1967. DNF with an oil leak from grid 1. Hulme in the other M6A took the win  (Dave Friedman)


Tailpiece: Las Vegas sunset, Stardust Raceway, Bruce McLaren and M6A Chev, 14 November 1967…


Not a good race weekend for Bruce as he blew an engine from grid 1, but he did win the ’67 championship! Surtees took the round win in his Lola T70 Mk3B Chev (The Enthusiast Network)