Posts Tagged ‘Peter Revson’

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Look at the detail; magneto, injection trumpets, rocker cover, throttle linkage, Moto-Lita steering wheel, Smiths chronometric tach, just so period. Top shot, the open garage door gives the photo another dimension to it (Denniston)

Peter Revson and McLaren’s Teddy Mayer looking frustrated and wistfull, respectively, at Peter’s Lola T220 Chev during the ‘Klondike 200’ Can Am round at Edmonton, Canada on 25 July 1970…

Revvie drove Carl Haas’ factory Lola T220 Chev with great speed if little reliability in 1970, switching to McLaren for 1971 and mopping up the championship in the M8F.

He then vaulted back into F1 to complete the ‘unfinished business’ he had first started in Europe a decade or so before. Peter’s platform to do so were his performances in McLaren Indy and Can Am cars in 1971/2.

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Revson during the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton, Canada 1970, Lola T220 Chev (Denniston)

McLaren had a good weekend in Edmonton, a one/two for Denny and Peter Gethin. Revson qualified his twitchy, challenging Lola 9th and retired from the race on lap 31 with an oil leak. His best results for the year were Q2’s at Mid Ohio and Road America, he finished 2nd at Mid Ohio. He achieved two Q3’s at Riverside and Laguna Seca, finishing 3rd at the latter.

Revvie may have only finished eighth in the 1970 Can Am Drivers Pointscore but his speed and potential was blindingly obvious to Teddy Mayer…

Credits…John Denniston

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(Denniston)

 

 

Doncha lerv Can Am cars in the nuddy?!…

Eric Broadley’s Lola T220 Chev laid bare for the world to see in the Edmonton paddock. Aluminium monocoque, ally ZL1 Chev, the sheer scale of these engines somewhat camouflaged with bodywork in situ. Just how high they sit in the chassis, and the consequent driving challenges which flow from the physics in relation thereto very clear!

Click on the links attached for more of my Can Am articles, the Lola T260 one has more technical details about the T220.

Tailpiece: Revson aboard his McLaren M8F Chev during the Molson 200 weekend, 26 September 1971…

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Twelve months later in the middle of a great season for Revson. Works M8F, Denny won with Peter 12th after problems from pole (Denniston)

 

 

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Teddy Mayer and Bruce McLaren, McLaren M7C Ford 5th, at Monaco on 18 May 1969, the hi-wings disappeared overnight. Hill G won in a Lotus 49B Ford (Schlegelmilch)

 

McLaren ‘owned’ the color papaya and having created brand recognition many marketers can only dream about walked away from the distinctive orange hue…

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Bruce and his M14A Ford before the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch, 22 March 1970, DNF after an accident, Jackie Stewart won in a March 701 Ford (Fox)

Bruce McLaren Motor Racing ‘broke through’ in the 1967 CanAm Series, Bruce and Denny crushed the opposition with the fabulous M6A Chev, a joint Bruce and Robin Herd design collaboration.

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Bruce McLaren at Las Vegas 1967, McLaren M6A Chev, it may be a blur but you knew what it was because of the colour, right!  John Surtees won in a Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, both McLaren’s DNF with engine failure (Getty)

 

Modern marketing started in the US. In trying to create ‘cut thru’ or ‘pop’ on then new colour telly the McLaren hierarchy, Teddy Mayer is credited for choosing the distinctive shade which defined the marque until the Yardley McLaren era of 1972.

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Denny Hulme, Kyalami 1972, on the way to a South African GP win in the ‘Yardley’ McLaren M19A Ford (unattributed)

The M6A gave its sponsors a ‘fair crack of the whip’, the ’67 colour stuck, being adopted on the factory CanAm, F1,2,5000 and Indycars until the early seventies.

The photo below is of more significance than i realised when i first saw it on the internet, my friend Derek Kneller recalls; ‘I joined McLaren’s a fabricator having worked at the experimental department of Hawker Siddeley working on the P1127 (Hawker Harrier vertical take off fighter) on 26 March 1968. One of my first tasks was to prepare this car for its first tests with the ‘ally big block 7 litre Chev. I worked through the weekend with Wally Willmott and and Gary Knutson to get the car ready. We essentially ‘hacked’ the back off the M6 and grafted the rear of the proposed ’68 M8 onto the car.’

‘The photo is L>R Denny, Gary Knutson partially obscured, Teddy Mayer, Phil Kerr and Bruce. Wally is in the blue shirt and Jo Marquhart to the right in the suit with overcoat. They are supervising the ‘mule’ M6A/2 at Goodwood on 24 April 1968′. Gary Knutson and Colin Beanland built the engine at Al Bartz’ shop in Los Angeles, its losing oil which is the reason for the concerned faces. George Begg, McLaren confidante and Kiwi racer/car builder took the photo. The papaya M6 rather contrasts with the dull, rolling Sussex hills in the background and the flash pit-counter in the foreground!

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(George Begg)

David Hodges records in his ‘Profile Publications’ article on the McLaren M8 that after this chassis was used in this series of tests, and later aerodynamic work it was returned to M6 specification and then sold.

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Jody Scheckter’s works McLaren M21 Ford BDF F2 car during the ‘BARC 200’ Euro F2 Championship round at Thruxton, 3 April 1972. Jody DNF with overheating, race won by Ronnie Peterson’s March 722 Ford BDF (M Hewitt)

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Andrea De Adamich’s McLaren M14D Alfa Romeo, Mont Tremblant, Canada 1970. DNF engine, race won by Ickx’ Ferrari 312B (Schlegelmilch)

Until Yardley’s arrival on the side of the M19 a swag of sponsors logos sat comfortably on McLarens against the gorgeous, distinctive from afar, shade.

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#5 Denny Hulme and Peter Revson’s McLaren M20 Chevs at Donnybrooke, Minnesota , 17 September 1972 (Upitis)

Lotus, the leader in so many aspects of racing showed the power of wholistic F1 branding of a racing car with the ‘fag packet’ Gold Leaf Team Lotus, Lotus 49’s which first appeared in the Wigram, New Zealand round of the Tasman Series 0n 20 January 1968. Jim Clark raced, just, in the early months of the year in the ‘modern advertising era’.

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Jim Clark in the Teretonga paddock, Lotus 49 DFW, his GLTL Lotus freshly painted car finished 2nd to Bruce’ works BRM P126, painted traditional green! 27  January 1968 (Ian Peak)

Of course the Americans had refined the art (advertising on racing cars) for 50 years before the rest of the world caught up, or regressed depending upon your view of it. You cannot imagine Cadbury abandoning purple yet McLaren walked away from a signature colour which defined their cars in a most distinctive way. I’m not suggesting Bruce and the boys had as much brand equity in papaya as Cadbury in purple but you get my drift.

Ferrari of course are the prime example of a marque who ‘own red’. Their sponsors have always obtained the coverage sought against a red background rather than Ferrari adopting the ‘packaging’ of their corporate partner of the season or decade!

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Denny Hulme on his way to winning the 1968 Canadian GP at Mont Tremblant, Bruce was 2nd in a great day for the team. McLaren M7A Ford (unattributed)

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Peter Revson, Indy qualifying 17 May 1972, McLaren M16B Offy. Peter started from grid 2 but DNF with ‘box failure after 5 laps. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s customer M16B (Bob D’Olivo)

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Hulme’s McLaren M20 Chev at Donnybrooke in 1972, Francois Cevert won in an ex-works M8F, both McLarens DNF with popped Chevys (Upitis)

In more recent times papaya has staged a comeback appearing on the McLaren F1 GTR LeMans car, occasionally as an F1 testing colour and as a favoured choice on its exotic road cars…

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Pedro de la Rosa and Mika Hakkinen in early 1997 testing of their McLaren MP4/12 Mercedes at Jerez, they raced in boring silver of course (reddit.com)

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McLaren M20 Chev in 1972, almost a CanAm signature, the staggered injection trumpets used from 1970 (Getty)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Alvis Upitis, Getty Images, Fox Photos, Bob D’Olivo, Michael Cooper, reddit.com, George Begg, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, Duncan Fox, Derek Kneller, David Hodges ‘The McLaren M8 Series’

Tailpieces: McLaren F1 GTR set against the Dunlop Bridge 16 June  1996, Le Mans 24 Hour…

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(Michael Cooper)

Victorious Papaya Blur…

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Bruce on his way to a win at Spa in 1968, M7A Ford (Schlegelmilch)

 

 

 

 

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Jackie Stewart and his ‘Cowcatcher Winged’ Lola T260 Chev, Laguna Seca 1971. (Pete Biro)

It was always going to be tough to beat the dominant McLaren team but the combination of World Champion Jackie Stewart and Lola, who had a strong Can Am track record looked a good combination to give them a run for their money in 1971…

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JYS convening a team engineering and set-up meeting in the Road America paddock, August 1971. Bob Marston in red shirt, JYS and in the green hat George Woodward. (Jim Buell)

Part 1: Lola and the CanAm Championship…

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John Surtees, Lola T70 Mk2 Chev leads Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M1B Chev at St Jovite, Mont Tremblant, 11 September 1966, they finished in this order. (unattributed)

The CanAm Championship morphed out of a series of professional level sports car races which had taken place for over a decade. In 1965 this comprised 4 events, 3 won by the Chaparral 2 and 1 by a Lola T70.

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John Surtees, Lola T70 Mk2 Chev at The Corkscrew, Laguna Seca, 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

The first CanAm series held in 1966 was won by John Surtees in a quasi-works Lola T70; ‘Big John’ won 3 races, Dan Gurney and Mark Donohue 1 apiece in Lola T70’s as well with Phil Hill taking a race in a Chaparral 2E.

Whilst Colin Chapman designed the first ‘modern monocoque’ single-seater, the Lotus 25, which made its debut at Zandvoort in 1962, it was Eric Broadley who first applied the new construction technique to a sports-racer with his 1963 Lola Mk6 Ford.

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Augie Pabst’s Mecom owned Lola Mk6 Ford, Road America 500 1964 DNF. (unattributed)

Chapman was convinced the backbone chassis which worked so well in his Elan road would migrate to sports-racing success but the Lotus 30/40 chassis were as floppy as a centenarians todger with results reflecting same. Even Jim Clark could not make those cars sing.

So impressed were Ford with Eric’s Mk6 he was famously contracted to lead the design team of its GT40, a car with a steel tub.

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‘Monterey Grand Prix’, Laguna Seca, 16 October 1966. Phil Hill won in a Chaparral 2E Chev. Bottom left is Dan Gurney with his Ford powered Lola T70.(Dave Friedman Collection)

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#7 John Surtees Lola T70 Mk2 Chev 12th and #30 Dan Gurney Lola T70 Ford DNF, Laguna Seca, October 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

The aluminium tubbed T70 was one of his first designs after his ‘Ford sabbatical’, that design process useful in terms of evolving the car Eric thought Ford should have built in the first place!

In all it’s variants the T70 remained a ‘competitive tool’ in both Group 7 (CanAm) and Group 5 World Sports Car Championship events into the dawn of the 1970’s, Teddy Pilette qualified his Team VDS Mk3B 19th at Le Mans in 1971, not bad for an old car with a pushrod OHV V8 against the might of the 5 litre, 12 cylinder Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512!

In endurance racing the T70 was really only held back by a suitable engine, the 12/24 hour longevity or lack thereof of the Chev engines usually chosen to power it. The small block Chev not having the benefit of factory investment in its development in the same way Ford’s Le Mans winning small block ‘Windsor’ V8 did.

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Roger Penske’s Donohue/Parsons Daytona winning Lola T70 Mk#B Chev at Sebring in 1969. Here DNF driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Mark Donohue. (unattributed)

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‘Top Guns’ interviewed for the TV, Las Vegas 1966: McLaren, Parnelli Jones and John Surtees. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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‘Stardust Grand Prix’ 13 November 1966, Las Vegas 1966 start. #7 Surtees Lola T70 Mk2 Chev 1st, #65/66 Phil Hill 7th, Jim Hall DNF both Chaparral 2E Chev, #5 Chris Amon McLaren M1B Chev DNF. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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Surtees from Jim Hall’s Chap 2E Chev early in the race. Vegas 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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Las Vegas 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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Surtees from Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2E Chev, 1st and DNF. Las Vegas 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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Surtees, Lola T70 Mk2 Chev, Las Vegas 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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Happy Chappy. Surtees after his race and CanAm series win, Las Vegas, November 1966. (Dave Friedman Collection)

Things would get tougher for Lola, Chaparral and the rest of the grid for the 1967 CanAm.

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Surtees Lola T70 Mk3B Chev in the Bridghampton pitlane, September 1967. 4th. (Dave Friedman Collection)

Jim Hall made it tough for himself  in ’66/7 by chasing championships in both Europe and the US, Chaparral sought titles in both the World Sporscar Championship and the CanAm. They were always a threat with their unique blend of factory Chev engines and stunning chassis and aerodynamic innovation and quasi General Motors support.

Click here for an article on his 2F and it’s 1967 endurance campaign;

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/26/67-spa-1000km-chaparral-2f/

But Bruce McLaren was the ‘dark horse’ challenger.

McLaren had been racing in US sportscar events since his Cooper days, he became more serious with the acquisition of Roger Penske’s Cooper/Zerex Special, click here for an article on that car;

https://primotipo.com/2015/03/19/roger-penske-zerex-special/

The Zerex became a test-bed for his own cars, the M1 which he raced in both the UK and US through until 1966. These spaceframe cars handled well and were very light but the aluminium Oldsmobile V8’s which provided the cars weight advantage and balance were also limited by their power; the blocks ‘maxxed out’ at about 4.5 litres so the cars gave away plenty of mumbo to those running 6 litre engines.

McLaren and Chris Amon ran Chevs in their factory M1B’s in 1966 so Bruce had clarity about the big engine and its packaging needs, the Kiwi had a clear fix on what was needed to win in the CanAm. He couldn’t match Jim Hall in terms of innovation but he could with sound design, engineering and construction of a monocoque car with a 6 litre Chev engine and simple aerodynamics, all key elements the T70 possessed and which also needed to be improved.

In essence this was the design brief McLaren gave to Robin Herd, the M6 McLaren the ’67 factory car the result. M6 started the ‘Bruce and Denny Show’ with 5 wins and Bruce deservedly taking the championship.

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Class of ’67 at Las Vegas, 12 November ; Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2G Chev from #4 McLaren’s McLaren M6A Chev, #21 Parnelli Jones’ Lola T70 Ford…all DNF, the race won by Surtees Lola T70 Mk3B. (unattributed)

The dominance of the McLaren was a function of several elements. The design and execution of simple well engineered cars which arrived for the CanAm having been shaken down in the UK by Bruce and were race-ready when the short season began was key. The team comprised 2 cars and world class drivers every year. The team had a US base in Livonia, Detroit and it’s own engine program,  it’s 6 litre Chevs built by George Bartz and tuned and assembled in-house under Gary Knutsen’s supervision. Finally the team had adequate sponsorship to do things properly.

The 1968 McLaren M8 was a ‘clean sheet’ design built from the learnings of the M6; the M8B, M8D and M8F works cars of 1969/70/71 evolutions of the M8A with sufficient change to ‘stay ahead of the pack’.

The dominance of McLaren was enhanced by ex-works cars passing into the hands of the best drivers at the end of each season and customer cars available to whoever wanted one; last years works-car became this years customer car, such bolides built by Trojan Industries so the works team didn’t have to worry about pesky customers! By the end of 1968 at least, Lola’s dominance in terms of grid numbers was over.

Such was the challenge Lola, Chaparral, John Surtees, Dan Gurney and the other best team owners faced.

Eric Broadley updated the T70 into the Mk3B for 1967, Surtees and Donohue were 3rd and 4th in the Championship with John taking a win at Las Vegas at the seasons end.

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Bridghampton September 1967 start; the McLaren M6A’s of McLaren and Hulme are in front of this group headed by #7 Surtees and #52 Revson both in Lola T70 Mk3B Chevs, #11 Motchenbacher’s T70 Chev, Jim Halls winged Chaparral 2G Chev clear. Hulme won. (Dave Friedman Collection)

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John Surtees much developed Lola T160/TS Chev at Bridghampton, September 1968. DNF having qualified 10th. (unattributed)

The T160, Lola’s new car for 1968 was in essence a development of the T70. Surtees only raced in several rounds of the championship. Sam Posey was the best placed Lola T160 driver, finishing 9th in the drivers championship.

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Surtees in his modified Lola T160/TS Chev. ‘LA Times GP’, Riverside, 27 October 1968. DNF water pump in the race won by McLaren’s M8A Chev. (Dave Friedman Collection)

For Surtees it was time to do his own thing, his first customer car was the Surtees  TS5 F5000 car for 1969, in terms of the Can Am he jumped ‘out of the fat and into the flames’ Jim Hall’s 1969 Chaparral 2H not his best car. Surtees did get a taste of the M8 McLaren when Hall realised he had built a ‘clunker’ and bought an M12 customer car for John to drive whilst the team sorted the 2H, Surtees revelling in the car on the few occasions he raced it!

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Surtees T160 at Riverside from the rear. Top left Surtees in the pits, right Mark Donohue talking with his crew. (Dave Friedman Collection)

Commercially for Broadley the appointment of Carl Haas as the Lola importer in 1967 was an astute move and provided the base for both firms success for decades with Haas having some of the attributes above to take on the papaya McLarens in the short term.

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Chuck Parsons in Carl Haas ‘factory’ Lola T163 Chev at Bridghampton on 14 September 1969. 7th in the race won by Hulme’s McLaren M8B Chev. (unattributed)

In 1969 Chuck Parsons proved the Lola T163 was not too bad a car, he finished 3rd in the points chase that year whilst the Chaparral was not a threat Porsche first appeared with the 917PA, the CanAm variant of its dominant in 1970 and 1971 endurance racer.

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Painting depicting Vic Elford’s Chaparral 2J Chev leading Peter Revson’s Lola T220/2 during 1970. (unattributed)

1970 was one of the great years of the CanAm, the sound conservative engineering of the McLaren M8D juxtaposed by Jim Halls outrageous Chaparral 2J Chev, one of the most stunning, original, innovative, epic racing cars ever built. The 2 stroke engines which created the vacuum for its ground effects were its weak link and the cause of too many retirements but the car was stunningly fast whilst it lasted in Jackie Stewart’s and Vic Elfords hands.

‘The Establishment’ had it banned at the end of the season of course; ‘movable aerodynamic devices illegal’ but the CanAm lost its soul and it’s ‘unlimited nature’ in making that decision, Hall telling the organisers to ‘go jam it’ and with it the CanAm lost its biggest draw if not its most successful team.

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Peter Revson destroyed his Lola T220 Chev after a 180mph tyre blowout at Road Atlanta in 1970. He raced a new 10 inch longer wheelbase car, 98 inches, the T222 for the rest of the season. Here at Watkins Glen he was 3rd. (Automobile Year)

Haas convinced Eric Broadley to design a new Lola for the 1970 season and signed Peter Revson, just peaking as a world class driver, to get the best from it.

The gorgeous, swoopy T220 was the result. The car had a very short 88 inch wheelbase which made it difficult to drive, a tyre failure at 180mph at Road Atlanta destroyed the car, but fortunately not Revson. It was a blessing in disguise as the replacement T222 had an additional 10 inches added to its wheelbase and made it a much more competitive car.

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Revson’s T220 at Road Atlanta and destroyed that weekend. ‘Fence’ an addition from original body spec. (Jim Hayes)

Having said that the T220 was fast if unreliable; Revvie qualified it 2nd at Road America, 3rd at Mid Ohio and 4th at Watkins Glen and Mosport, his best finish 2nd to Hulme at Mid Ohio.

With the longer wheelbase T222 he immediately banged the car on pole at Donnybrooke, finishing 3rd behind the 2 McLarens and qualified 3rd at both Laguna Seca and the final Riverside round for a 3rd and DNF respectively.

So, by the end of the year the Lola car/driver combination was close to the McLarens, Hulme took the 1970 title, Revson finished 6th.

Revson was off to McLaren for 1971, all Lola/Haas had to build was a better car, building on the base of the T222 and hire a driver of the required calibre.

Part 2: The Lola T260…

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Lola T260 Chev cutaway. (Tom Strongman)

Having had a taste of the Can Am in 1970 and earlier years Jackie Stewart was keen to return, the professionalism of the Carl Haas team and Lola, a marque familiar to him having raced a T90 successfully at Indy together with Graham Hill in 1966 had appeal. He could fit the series into his 1971 F1 program with Tyrrell, or so he thought. Click here for an article on the Lola T90 and the 1966 Indy 500;

https://primotipo.com/2015/06/12/graham-hills-american-red-ball-spl-lola-t90-ford-indy-winner-1966-2/

Lola’s mount for Stewart was designated the the T260, the car was designed by Bob Marston with Eric Broadley’s guidance.

Lola Heritage; ‘The chassis was a…Lola full monocoque in L72 and NS4 light alloys bonded and riveted together with the fuel bags in either side of the tub with a total capacity of 60 gallons. The oil tank was contained in the rear of the left-hand fuel section. The rear of the monocoque extended to the back of the engine which was sandwiched between two bulkheads, a bell-housing supported the gearbox and absorbed suspension loads.

Cooling was via two brass-finned Serck radiators mounted behind the driver’s shoulder level and fed by two large NACA ducts on the top of the bodywork, the radiators vented through large louvres in the rear bodywork. Two oil coolers were mounted behind the water radiators and used the same ducts, an additional transmission cooler lay flat over the gearbox.

The bodywork was evolved following extensive tests in the Specialised Mouldings wind tunnel and featured a short, bluff nosecone with gauze-covered holes on the top to equalise pressure. At the base of the nose were two air ducts to feed air to the front discs, at the rear two ram pipes on the top of the rear body section collected the cooling air for the rear discs’.

Pete Lyons described the cars aerodynamic approach ‘The T260…was built to an aerodynamic theory already embodied in a few small-bore sports cars of the day. The intent was a shape that would bullet through the air on the straights and also remain stable as the car’s pitch attitude, ride height and positioning behind other cars changed everywhere else. In particular…a more conventional downforce-producing wedge nose, such as McLaren’s…could abruptly change from downforce to lift under certain conditions…’

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CAD sketch showing the T260 aero treatment. (unattributed)

The front suspension on the T260 comprised unequal length wishbones, the upper ones were triangulated to form bell-cranks that operated Bilstein dampers and coil springs which lay almost horizontally across the front of the tub. The unusual spring-medium location freed space for the front brakes to be mounted inboard. Eric Broadley’s intention was to reduce the unsprung weight of the front wheels by moving the brakes inboard from their conventional hub location. This would have permitted the lighter wheel assemblies to ride better over the often bumpy CanAm circuits. Jackie Stewart was adamantly opposed to inboard brakes after the death of his close friend Jochen Rindt due to the failure of an inboard-brake driveshaft on his GP Lotus 72 at Monza in September 1970. Conventional outboard brake mountings were used on the finalized T260 instead.

A tangent is the fact that later JYS was comfortable enough with Engineer Derek Gardner’s approach to inboard front brakes, his 1973 Championship winning Tyrrell 006 being so equipped.

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T260, Stewart up, Road America. Shot included to show the unusual location, for the time, of the spring/shocks referred to in the text. Graviner fire extinguished ‘bomb clear in shot. Chassis aluminium full monocoque. (Jim Buell)

Rack and pinion steering was ahead of the front suspension.

Lola Heritage; ‘At the rear there was a short top link and a long radius arm attaching to the front engine bulkhead, a lower member extended rearwards to a cross-member bolted to the rear face of the gearbox. The springs and dampers fixed to the lower member and transmitted their load to tubular outriggers on the gearbox bell-housing.

Lola-made centre-lock, peg-drive magnesium wheels were fitted, their diameter 15 inches with 10.5 inch front and 17 inch wide rear Goodyears’. The battery was mounted in the nose and a Graviner onboard fire extinguisher was fitted behind the dashboard’.

Two cars were built for Haas, chassis ‘HU1’ was Stewart’s race chassis, ‘HU2’ was an unused spare  in 1971.

The engine was a 496 cu in (8.1 litres) V8 Chevrolet tuned by George Foltz, it produced circa 700 bhp and 618 lb-ft of torque, Lucas fuel injection was fitted with a Scintilla Vertex magneto and a Hewland LG600 4-speed gearbox transmitted the power.

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Aluminium block 8 litre engine of the T260 at Mosport. June 1971. (Jerry Bendl Collection/The Roaring Season)

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(Werner Buhrer)

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Frank Gardner testing the Lola T260 at Silverstone, note how far forward the rear wing is in relation to shots later in 1971. (LAT)

When completed the car was tested by Lola racer/tester/development engineer Frank Gardner who was also turning his mind and skills into getting more speed from Lola’s F5000 T190/2, no doubt the F5000 was a ‘kiddy car’ compared to its 8 litre big brother!

Stewart drove the car in a rain soaked run at Silverstone prior to the cars shipping to canada for the season opening CanAm round at Mosport, Canada.

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Gardner in ‘HU1’ at Silverstone, the shortness of the car and different to anything else in the CanAm aero-treatment clear in this shot. (unattributed)

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Ropey shot of Stewart sheltering from the Silverstone weather during his brief drive of the T260 prior to shipment to North America, June 1971. (Sutton Images)

Other 1971 CanAm Contenders…

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Denny Hume and Jackie Stewart at Mid Ohio 1971. Stewart in his T260 office. (Ron Laymon)

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Denny Hulme, McLaren M8F Chev, Road America, August 1971. DNF engine. Engine 494cid Reynolds aluminium block Chev, circa 740bhp@6400rpm. (Jim Buell)

In reality the likely outright contenders in 1971 were the factory McLaren M8F’s, Stewart’s Lola T260, Jackie Oliver’s Shadow Mk2 Chev was a contender, designer Peter Bryant had plenty of experience by 1971.

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Jackie Olivers Shadow Mk2 Chev, Road America 1971. 12th in the race. (Jim Buell)

Jo Siffert’s Porsche 917/10 was gathering valuable data for a serious tilt in 1972, in exceptional circumstances (the wet) it was a contender as were a number of the best privateers in either ex-works or carefully developed M8’s; Lothar Motschenbacher, Vic Elford and Tony Adamowicz the most likely.

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Siffert’s Porsche 917/10, Road America 1971. Spaceframe chassis, 5 litre Flat 12. (Jim Buell)

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Peter Revson, Jackie Oliver in the helmet and front suspension detail of a McLaren M8F in the Road America paddock, August 1971. (Jim Buell)

The detailed specification of the McLaren M8F i wrote about a while back; click on this link to read the short article; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/08/peter-revson-mclaren-m8f-chev-1971/

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1971 Mid Ohio rolling grid. #5 Hulme, #7 Revson, #1 Stewart, #2 Jo Siffert,Porsche 917/10, #51 Dave Causey Lola T222 Chev, #54 Tony Adamowicz, McLaren M8B Chev, #88 Hiroshi Kazato ,Lola T222. (Ron Laymon)

Part 3: Racing: The 1971 CanAm Round by Round…

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Mosport 1971 vibe, looks fantastic! (Jerry Bendl Collection/The Roaring Season)

Round 1: Mosport, Ontario Canada 13 June 1971
Stewart grabbed pole position from the works McLaren M8F’s of Denny Hulme and Peter Revson and then led the race from Hulme, an oil leak from the LG600 Hewland ‘box resulted in its seizure on lap 18.

Hulme won from Revson and Lothar Motschenbacher in one the 1970 ex-works McLaren M8D’s.

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Pan of Stewart at Mosport shows the cars original aero treatment before ongoing modifications and experiments. Rear wing far forward and nose devoid of appendages. (Jerry Bendl Collection/The Roaring Season)

Rounds 2 and 3: St Jovite, Quebec Canada 27 June and Road Atlanta, Georgia, 11 July
The second round was at St Jovite. Stewart put the T260 on the front row next to pole sitter Hulme’s McLaren M8F. Denny led from the start but Stewart sat in second until lap 52 when Hulme, tiring from a stomach bug had to slow due to exhaustion. Stewart won the race from Denny and Revson.

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Stewart a race winner at St Jovite, here beside Hulme with Revson just behind. (Lola Heritage)

Stewart recalled in an interview with Gordon Kirby ‘St Jovite was a good win because with that car, that track was hard work! The other race where we did quite well was at Road Atlanta. We led the race then had a puncture and a whole series of other problems but still turned the fastest lap of the race, quicker than Hulme’s pole time’.  Revson won the race from Hulme and Motschenbacher.

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Stewart had great pace at Road Atlanta, wonderful high speed shot of the short, squat, original T260. (unattributed)

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Stewart ahead of Revson, Mario Cabral Porsche 917K and Hulme in the distance, Watkins Glen, 1971. (unattributed)

Round 4: Watkins Glen, New York, 25 July
The T260’s speed was not in doubt, it was back on pole again with Hulme and Revson right behind. Stewart got the drop putting the T260 into the lead from Revson, the Lola and McLaren diced until Stewart pitted with another puncture losing a lap while the wheel was changed.

Stewart returned to the race and began to fly setting the fastest lap but on the 56th he retired the car after detecting vibrations which proved to be a failing transmission. Revson won from Hulme and Jo Siffert in the factory Porsche 917/10.

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JYS at Watkins Glen, site of the US GP in upstate New York, it was a circuit he knew well. (LAT)

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Stewart loaded up and all ready to go in the Mid Ohio pitlane. (Terry Capps)

Round 5: Mid Ohio, 22 August
Stewart, famously a successful campaigner for better circuit safety was unhappy with the track; its surface excessively bumpy and the presence of trees and telegraph poles surrounding the course meant mistakes would be punished severely.

Much overnight work was carried out to remove some of the trees and poles and add straw bales where possible but after looking at the result Stewart declared he would ‘run but he wouldn’t race’. Stewart’s position could be appreciated after the bumpy track caused 3 rear suspension failures to the T260 during qualifying.

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Bucolic Mid Ohio paddock. Team busy this meeting, several suspension failures over the bumpy circuit. ‘Standard aero’ at this point. (Terry Capps)

Stewart qualified 3rd and was 2nd behind Revson at the end of lap 1 but the McLaren drew away as Stewart drove well within himself. On lap 72 Revson’s driveshaft universal joint failed (the same problem had sidelined Denny Hulme) and Stewart took the lead and race win from Siffert’s Porsche and Tony Adamowicz’ ’69 ex-works McLaren M8B Chev.

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Mid Ohio paddock this time a butt shot. Neat brackets to support beefy exhausts and lights, black ducts are cooling for inboard discs located beside the Hewland ‘box. Note also ducts/louvres on the rear of the bodywork to exhaust hot air. (Terry Capps)

From this point on the continual development of the McLarens told whilst the Lola effort didn’t improve enough. McLaren were a well drilled team and both drivers were  experienced campaigners with whatever changes needing to be made could be done quickly in their Livonia, Detroit workshop or back at Colnbrook if necessary.

Whilst the T260 was effectively a works effort run by the marques US importer, Lola were at their core a manufacturer of customer racing cars with many customers, not a race team with only one focus.

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Included in JYS program for 1971 was the Questor Grand Prix at Ontario Speedway in March. He was 2nd in his Tyrrell to Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 312B…but here Jackie is putting in a few laps in AJ Foyts McLaren M10B Chev. His only F5000 drive?? (Getty Images)

Jackie Stewart on driving the T26o and stresses of two major campaigns, F1 with Tyrrell and the CanAm Lola in 1971…

Stewart related to Gordon Kirby and Adam Cooper in separate MotorSport magazine interview’s; ‘There were no wind tunnels in those days and Eric (Broadley) would suddenly arrive and under his arm was a new front wing. There was one we called ‘the cowcatcher’. It was hung out front of the car and what it was doing i just don’t know’

‘The car was very short wheelbase and very difficult to drive. In comparison to the McLarens, (Stewart was approached to drive for them in 1972 and actually signed to do so but withdrew when the extent of his health problems were clear) the car was just a monster to drive and we were just trying to keep up’.

‘I tested the McLaren and it was just like a passenger car compared to the incredibly nervous, pointy, short wheelbase Lola where you were a millisecond from an accident all the time.’

Stewart said the Lola T260 was the most physically demanding car he raced in his career ‘On the very fast circuits like Riverside it was awfully tricky because you never knew where you were going’. In order to make up for its shortcomings ‘I sweated more. It was just a difficult car to drive. There are some cars which are easy to drive and others not and that was one of the ones that was not’.

In a contest for the worst car he ever drove; ‘The Lola T260 CanAm car would probably make that one…the H16 BRM runs it a close second’.

The main problem was dire understeer in addition to ultimate twitchiness at speed. The Lola’s blunt nose was dotted with mesh covered holes through which the underbody air could pass. In theory this helped provide some downforce. In its initial guise the shape of the front didn’t seem to have any obvious way of providing grip. Broadley deliberately opted not to have a fashionable chisel nose. But the lack of downforce at the front was borne out by the position of the giant rear , which was usually far forward, just behind the injection trumpets  in an attempt to achieve some sort of balance.

A combination of racing around the world in 2 series and lots of promotional work gave Stewart mononucleosis. ‘I was flying back and forth from Europe to do F1, i won the world championship that year and 2 CanAm races, but i also got mononucleosis (glandular fever), a really debilitating disease that took your energy away. You couldn’t sleep and yet you were overly tired. So it was a tough year, a really exhausting year’.

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Stewart racing his Tyrrell 001 Ford to victory in the Spanish GP, Montjuic Park, Barcelona on 18 April. He took 6 wins in 1971 and his second drivers title. (unattributed)

Its interesting to reflect on Jackie’s comments on the differences between the two cars; in fact both the T260, which retained the same wheelbase as the T222 and the ’71 McLaren M8F had 98 inch wheelbases.

The front/rear track of the Lola was 58 inches, of the M8F 60/57.75 inches. The overall length of the Lola was 139 inches compared with the much longer M8F’s 167 inches.

The aero treatment was radically different of course, a lack of downforce something the team chased progressively throughout the season.

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Stewart in the T260 at Road America and trying a different aero configuration comprising; a new profile ‘clip’ on the lower nose at the cars front and ‘McLarenesque’ wing and integrated mounts, wing now much further back than the original. (Jim Buell)

Round 6: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, 29 August
Stewart was third fastest in qualifying but his engine, also used at Mid-Ohio was tired.

A new engine was fitted for the race but high temperatures during warm-up were hoped to be vapour lock in the cooling system.

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Stewart ‘ready to rock’ at Road America and a close-up of the configuration pictured above. (Jim Buell)

Stewart ran second early on but after 10 laps the engine was smoking, Stewart parked it. Later examination showed a dropped cylinder liner was responsible for the high engine temperatures.

Revson won from Siffert and Vic Elford’s McLaren M8E Chev.

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Stewart T260 Road America, note that in this shot he is running the ‘original’ nose and rear wing setup. (Carl Knopp)

Round 7: Donnybrooke, Minnesota
T260 had revised rear suspension but the McLarens were continually being developed as well, Stewart’s 3rd fastest time 2 seconds adrift of the factory M8F’s.

Stewart got away well and led for 2 laps until Revson found a way past, Hulme was unable to pass Jackie as the McLaren was losing grip in the Lola’s slipstream. The positions remained until lap 22 when Stewart felt something amiss and pitted, nothing could be found, he resumed in 10th a lap and a half down.

The Scot raced the T260 back to 4th but another puncture saw Stewart back in the pits, the T260 finished 6th, two laps down. Revson again won from Hulme and Gregg Young’s McLaren M8D/E Chev 3rd.

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Stewart about to load up on the wet Edmonton grid, September 1971. #11 is Motchenbacher’s McLaren M8D . See another variation of the T260 nose, the front ‘clip on’ less bluff than the original and more ‘scooped’. Rear wing mounted back. (Jerry Bendl Collection/The Roaring Season)

Round 8: Edmonton, Alberta Canada, 26 September
The T260 featured a revised nose shape designed to give more downforce, the rear wing was moved back to balance the new nose.

Stewart qualified 3rd again. Jackie had a great start on the wet track and led. The T260 was handling well in the rain, the Scot extended his lead over Jackie Oliver’s Shadow and Hulme’s McLaren. Stewart was still leading at half distance but a trip onto the grass when lapping Motschenbacher’s M8D lost the Lola’s handling balance.

Gradually Hulme closed the gap and he suddenly found himself in the lead with 13 laps remaining, the deteriorating handling caught Stewart out and he spun. The T260 resumed in second but with it’s competitiveness lost Stewart settled for a safe 2nd. Jackie Oliver finally got the Shadow Mk2 into the points in 3rd.

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Stewart runs the ‘cow catcher’ set up at Laguna Seca. In search of downforce or what! Far forward wing and much larger rear wing to balance things up. (Tony Ferrari)

Round 9: Laguna Seca, California, 17 October
At Laguna Seca the T260 had lost its high downforce nose from Edmonton and now featured a huge, front ‘cow-catcher’ wing projecting out in front of the nosecone.

Stewart managed 4th on the grid behind the McLarens and David Hobbs in the Ti22 Chev.

Stewart soon passed Hobbs, David raced the Carl Haas ‘factory’ Lola T310 in 1972, and after 10 laps passed Hulme who had some broken valve springs.

Revson seemed secure 25 seconds ahead of Stewart but a collision with a backmarker required a pit stop to secure a loose door. Stewart was now 9 seconds behind. Revson started to pull away again but with 20 laps to go Revvies engine lost power, he nursed it over the remaining laps but with 2 to go the M8F was puffing blue smoke.

He drove the last two laps cautiously to win and but Stewart who took the chequered flag as Revson had been shown a black flag, Revson claimed he hadn’t seen it.

The Carl Haas team protested Revson and the results were pending for some hours but eventually Revson got the win but received a $250 fine. Hulme was 3rd.

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Stewart ahead of David Hobbs Ti22 Chev, Jackie Oliver Shadow Mk2 Chev, another unidentified car with Jo Siffert Porsche 917/10 at rear. Corkscrew, Laguna. (Hal Amarantes)

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Stewart at Riverside, again with the ‘cow-catcher’ aero setup. Side on profile shot gives an idea of just how far forward the front wing was and how big the rear one was! Lola T260 Chev. (MP Hewitt)

Round 10: Riverside, California, 31 October
The series final round was at Riverside on October 30, only 3 1/2 short months since the series commenced in mid-June.

Stewart again qualified 3rd, the T260 now having bigger sideplates on its rear wing.

Hulme took the lead at the start but Stewart got up to 2nd as Revson, looking for points to clinch the Championship didn’t make it difficult. Unable to challenge Hulme Stewart was running happily in second until a piston failed in the big aluminium Chevy on lap 27.

Hulme won from Revson and Howden Ganley in the BRM P167 Chev.

The end of the 1971 Can-Am Championship resulted in Peter Revson as champion with 5 wins to Revsons 3, Stewart finished an honourable third to the two McLarens…

As Lola Heritage puts it ‘He had been their only consistent competitor over the ten rounds and there was a certain ‘what may have been’ feeling over the whole series, if only reliability had been better and punctures had been less’.

In addition to that its a shame the car hadn’t been finished earlier and tested extensively at Goodwood and Silverstone prior to crossing the Atlantic, but it wasn’t and the dominant McLaren’s reaped the rewards.

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David Hobbs in the Watkins Glen pits 1972. Lola T310 Chev. (unattributed)

For 1972 Lola again contested the championship with a new car, the T310, McLaren built a new car, the M20 Chev to take on the pride of Stuttgart, but the mighty Porsche 917/10 was battle ready in the hands of the Penske Team and Mark Donohue in a way the 1971 Lola/Carl Haas/Stewart combination were not…

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David Hobbs lola T310 Chev 4th ahead of Jackie Olivers Shadow Mk3 Chev DNF and the dominant Porsche 917/10 turbo of George Follmer 4th. Hulme won this round in an M20 McLaren. Watkins Glen 1972. (unattributed)

1971 CanAm Season Footage…

Etcetera…

dimensions

Bibliography…

Lola Heritage, ‘MotorSport’ October 2000 article by Adam Cooper and December 2013 article by Gordon Kirby, Automobile Year 19, ‘CanAm’ Pete Lyons

Photo Credits…

Lola Heritage, Ron Laymon, Getty Images, LAT, Jerry Bendl Collection/The Roaring Season, Automobile Year, Jim Hayes, Tom Strongman cutaway drawing, Carl Knopp, Jim Buell, Terry Capps, Hal Amarantes, Tony Ferrari, MP Hewitt

Tailpiece…

Turn in Biiitch!

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Stewart Lola T260, Road America 1971. (Jim Buell)

Finito…

 

 

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Revvie manhandling the big brute to victory in the 1971 CanAm Championship with the required levels of finesse, touch and strength these big, heavy oh-so-spectacular cars required…

Revson won the title by 10 Points from Denny Hulme having won 5 of the 10 rounds.

The M8F was the last of a line of cars which commenced with the 1968 M8A, the new for ’67 M6 and new for ’72 M20 being sufficiently different to be treated outside the M8A/B/D and F 1968-1971 ‘works cars’.

The cars were of course the fastest road racing cars of all at the time.

revson m8f riverside

This shot was taken by noted American journalist/photographer Pete Lyons at the Laguna Seca hairpin in October 1971. Days later Lyons was ‘given the ride of his life’ in this car at Riverside! Lucky boy. Revson won at Laguna from Jackie Stewarts’ Lola T260 Chev and McLaren teammate Denny Hulme. (Pete Lyons)

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Tex Hopkins greets Revson, victorious at Watkins Glen July 1971. He won fron Denny Hulme and Jo Siffert Porsche 917PA (Todd Treat)

Revsons 1970 and 1971 seasons in CanAm, in 1970 with the Carl Haas factory Lola T220 Chev, and his Indy performances vaulted him back into F1 with McLaren, his ‘second bite at the F1 cherry’ having done a few races in Parnell entered Lotus BRM’s in 1964. He quickly showed it was right where he belonged.

Such a charismatic driver and tragically talent unfulfilled, his performances in the M23 McLaren in 1973, not just his two GP wins at Silverstone and Mosport showed he was a regular winner if not a champion in the right car. A versatile driver as well, quick in TransAm, CanAm, F1 and Indycars, different disciplines all.

Check out this link for an article on Revsons’ 1973 McLaren M23…

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/24/macs-mclaren-peter-revson-dave-charlton-and-john-mccormacks-mclaren-m232/

and on the 1970 CanAm M8D…https://primotipo.com/2014/08/01/peter-gethin-mclaren-m8d-chev-can-am-1970/

m8f cutaway

Werner Buhrer cutaway drawing

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Mosport 1971…Denny Hulme and Peter Revson, team and 2X ‘Big Macs’ : McLaren M8F Chev groundshakers. (Unattributed)

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Denny Hulme left and Peter Revson McLaren M8F Chev 1971, the ‘ole Mclaren 1/2…circuit unknown. (Unattributed)

Credits…

Wener Buhrer, petelyons.com, Todd Treat

 

 

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Peter Revson on his way to fourth place in McLaren M23/2 in the 1973 Spanish GP, Montjuich Park, Barcelona (The Cahier Archive)

Background…

No other car has raced in F1, F5000 and CanAm championships before conversion back through F5000 to original F1 specifications. McLaren M 23/2 is that car.

The McLaren M23 was one of the marques most successful designs, winning Grands’ Prix from 1973 to 1977 and Drivers and Manufacturers World Titles for Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt and McLaren in 1974 and 1976  .

Coppuck’s Design…

m23 cutaway

Gordon Coppuck was responsible for the teams  innovative and successful CanAm and Indycar designs, Ralph Bellamy’s return to Brabham gave him his F1 design chance.

The car followed the conceptual path blazed by the Lotus 56/72 in having a chisel nose, side radiators and rising rate suspension, rather than the Tyrrell ‘bluff nose’ alternative aero approach of the day. McLarens very successful M16 Indycar followed the 72 so it was a logical step for Coppuck, using the well established McLaren interactive design approach, with many on the shop floor having input into the conceptual stages of new car development.

The M23 was a typical British ‘kit car’ of the period with its Cosworth DFV 3 litre V8 and Hewland FG 400 5 speed gearbox. New deformable structure rules mandated for ’73 allowed a fresh approach to address M19’s shortcomings which were a lack of straight line speed and weight. The chassis was formed in 16 gauge aluminium sheet, all joints bonded and riveted, the radiator sidepods an integral extension of the structure. Fuel tankage was centralised to promote ‘Tyrrell like’ low polar moment of inertia, the driving position pushed forward relative to the M19.

Front suspension comprised rising or progressive rate linkages, a large lower wishbone and top rocker actuating inboard mounted spring/shock units. At the rear a reversed lower wishbone, adjustable top link and twin radius rods were used, spring rate progression was achieved with the winding of the coil springs.

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Front bulkhead, nose-cone support, master cylinders, wide-based lower wishbone, top rocker & inboard spring / shock, workmanship clear…(John Lemm)

Brakes were Lockheed ‘CanAm’ calipers, rotors 10.5 inches in diameter, outboard at the front & inboard, beside the gearbox, at the rear.

The bodywork was ‘all enveloping’, the airbox neatly covering the engine aiding airflow to the rear wing.

The wheelbase was 101 inches, front track 65 inches, rear 62.5 inches, length 170 inches, the whole lot weighing a claimed 1270 pounds distributed 34%/66% front to rear.

’73 Grand Prix Season…

4 of these ‘original spec’ cars were built for 1973, the prototype M23/1 was tested at Goodwood by Denny Hulme before setting off for the season opening South African GP at Kyalami. He was immediately quicker than in the M19, rapidly adjusting to the ‘far forward’ driving position. Hulme put the car on pole at Kyalami and lead the race before puncturing on debris.

Other McLaren team drivers were Mike Hailwood and Peter Revson in his first fulltime Grand Prix season. Revson started his grand prix career in the early 60’s before returning to his native USA and making his name in the CanAm series which he won in ’71 in a McLaren M8F. He was also McLarens Indy driver.

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A relaxed Peter Revson prior to the start of his successful British GP at Silverstone ’73…his first GP win (unattributed)

M23/2 debuted in Revsons’ hands on 8 April 1973 at the Silverstone International Trophy, finishing 4th, it was to be his car for most of the year, his promise as an F1 driver fulfilled with a tremendous victory at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix. McLarens ‘cub driver’ Jody Scheckter, in another M23 famously causing a multi-car pileup after losing control at Woodcote at the end of lap 1 and proving the strength of Coppucks design.

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Peter Revson en-route to victory in M23/2 , Silverstone ’73 (unattributed)

M23/2 was used by Scheckter later in the season in Canada and the US before being sold to South African ace Dave Charlton.

Dave Charltons’ Championship car in 1974 & ’75… 

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Dave Charlton delicately drifts M23/2, South African GP Kyalami 1975. He finished 14th in the race won by countryman Jody Scheckters’ Tyrrell 007 (reddit.com)

The McLaren replaced Charltons’ Lotus 72D for the South African National Championship, it was incredibly successful winning 8 races and Championships in ’74/5. Charlton set a Kyalami lap record in the 1975 Rand Winter Trophy which stood for years until broken in the ground effects era.

The cost of F1 cars was getting out of hand, so Charlton offered the car for sale with the introduction of Formula Atlantic as South Africa’s Championship class from 1976.

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Dave Charlton in M23/2 Brandkop circuit, Orange Free State, South Africa ’74…2 SA Championships on the trot in ’74-5 in M23/2 (David Pearson)

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Rob Ryders’ shot of Dave Charlton at the 1972 British Grand Prix, his Lotus 72D retired with gearbox failure. (Rob Ryder)

John McCormack…

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Oran Park Gold Star round 1978. McCormack, Graham McRae, McRae GM3 Chev, Elfin MR8 at rear (John Shingleton)

Aussie F5000 racer John Mc Cormack was the eager purchaser, ’Charlton was a terrific bloke to deal with, I bought the car, 20 wheels, multiple sets of front and rear wings, bodywork, 2 types of airbox, less engines, which I should have bought and sold later, then the exchange rate moved in my favour so it was a really good deal..McLaren were still racing the car when I bought it, I had contacts there and they were used to dealing with customers so it all made good sense, as long as we could get the engine to play its part….’

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John McCormack promoting the ‘Racesafe Wool TT’ racesuit circa ’76

McCormack started racing in his native Tasmania breaking into the national scene with the purchase of Jack Brabham’s ’62 AGP car, a Brabham BT4 Climax. He proved he could mix with the ‘big boys’ in an Elfin 600C, very competitive when fitted with a Repco ‘740 Series’ V8 in place of the old Climax. He bought the first Elfin MR5 Repco in 1971 and via his connection with PIARC’s John Lanyon did the Ansett sponsorship deal to create the 2 car Ansett Team Elfin with Elfin owner/designer/driver Garrie Cooper. McCormack and his team developed his car to be very competitive, winning the Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ in 1973 and the NZ GP, part of the annual Tasman series of 8 races run in Australia and New Zealand every summer, in 1973 and 1974.

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Tasmanian Gold Star race success. Mac second in the 1967 Symmons Plains event to Greg Cusacks’ Repco engined Brabham BT23. Car is McCormacks’ ex Brabham BT4 Climax (oldracephotos)

In search of ‘the unfair advantage’ over the heavy Holden and Chevrolet engined cars, Repco’s Phil Irving spotted the new Leyland P76 family car engine, a 4.4 litre aluminium block V8, at the Melbourne Motor Show. Elfins John Lanyon quickly did a deal with Leyland and Repco to jointly fund development of an F5000 variant of the new engine for a car specifically designed for it to distribute the weight in a fashion more akin to an F1 car, rather than the ‘ tail happy’ F5000’s. McCormack characterised the beasts as ‘like having a pendulum in the car’. Coopers ‘Little Car’ was the Elfin MR6, a new design which debuted for the ’74 season.

MR6 Oran park

John McCormack debuts the Elfin MR6 Repco Leyland # ‘MR6L 6741′ at Oran Park on 30 January 1974. A big panic as the car was running late and was launched in NSW, at Oran Park near Leylands’ Zetland HQ, a long way from Elfins base in Edwardstown, Adelaide… Mac was not happy with the Tasman Series starting in NZ several days later but the car did manage a few laps despite not having ever turned a wheel before…MR6 small by F5000 standards and very 1973 Tyrrell 006 like in appearance.

Repco developed an engine with a capacity of 4931cc, a 94mm bore and 89mm stroke. As originally developed  the engine used the P76 cylinder block fitted with special liners and main bearing stiffening plates, the cast iron crank was replaced with steel units after initial failures. Cylinder heads were P76 with flowed inlet and exhaust ports and larger valves. Pistons, con-rods and bearings were Repco, as was the dry sump setup which utilised 3 stage pressure and scavenge pumps. Fuel injection was by Lucas and a Repco Lorimer dual point distributor fed by coils provided the spark.

Critically the engine weighed only 160kg, compared with the Holdens 220kg, however the claimed power of 425 bhp @ 6800rpm and 375 lb ft of torque at 5500 rpm was far less than the circa 500bhp of a Holden or Chev. Elfins Dale Koenneke quipped that the engine when first raced in early ’74 had ‘no more than 365 bhp’ when installed in the MR6. History tends to support the contention that the horses were ponies rather than stallions!

The engine had many teething problems, the fragility of the engines blocks and cast iron cranks together with consistent overheating were exacerbated by Repco’s withdrawal from racing.

Mc Cormack used both the MR5 and MR6 in ’74, before converting the MR6 to accept the Repco Holden engine. ‘Dale Koenneke said enough!, we put in all this effort and the thing just shits itself, lets put the Holden into it’ in this form winning the ’75 Gold Star.

McCormack, an independent thinker was still convinced the Repco Leyland could be a winner in the right car, the question was finding one!

And so, M23/2 came to Australia, sans DFV but with plenty of spares…

McCormacks team of Dale Koenneke and Simon Aram did a beautiful job installing the Repco Leyland into the car without ‘butchery’, the engine, after modification of the harmonic balancer and relocation of water pump and oil tank fitting neatly into the tub albeit as an unstressed member, the engine supported by traditional tubular ‘A frame’s.

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Engine sans exhausts, neat installation of the Leyland engine where a DFV was designed to go apparent. ‘A Frame’ engine mounts, side rads, inboard discs, conventional parallel lower links, single top link and coil spring/ shock units in contrast to inboard front set-up…(JohnLemm)

McCormack engaged famous Aussie engineer Phil Irving (ex Repco, Vincent) to further develop the engine from its Repco base. Irving designed new heads cast by Comalco, which eliminated separate valve guides and seats.The design also featured a ‘bent’ pushrod to allow more room for straight inlet ports. John said ‘Power increased to around 435bhp and 410 ft/lbs of torque, more mid range punch than the Repco Holden. An alternate cam delivered 470/380, but this stressed the overall package causing many block failures. All the talk on Friday night at the Horsepower Hotel never won races, it was about torque as well as power and whilst we were light on power we had plenty of mid range punch and a well balanced overall car package’.

The Hewland FG 400 gearbox was marginal in F1 , the torque of the beefy Repco requiring new gears cut by Peter Holinger’s now famous Holinger Engineering concern in outer Melbourne.

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Another of John Lemms Coongie Avenue , Edwardstown shots …outboard rear suspension, Hewland FG400 box…fragile in this application given the engines torque, radiators in a constant battle with heat…and off to the left side you can just see the nose-brackets of the Elfin MR6 tricked up as a display car at the time

The Repco and Chev engined Lola, Matich, Chevron and Elfin chassis’ had more power but the McLaren was lighter, the superb balance, handling, and braking of the design maintained as the DFV and Repco Leyland were similar weights. John was convinced he had his ‘unfair advantage’….’the drivability of the car with its long-stroke engine was great, it was an excellent high speed car, it wasn’t quite so good on slower tracks where it lacked feel at the back due to fixed length driveshafts. The car had quite a high roll-centre and was very sensitive to aero tweaks on fast circuits, it was flat into turn 1 at Phillip Island, really quick!’

After much media interest McCormack raced the car at the Oran Park Gold Star round in September ’76 putting it fourth on the grid, a valve failing on lap 22. A win followed at Calder in October then pole at the ‘Island, leading until a tyre deflated, despite this the car finished 3rd in its inaugural Gold Star Series.

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Oran Park Australian Grand Prix ’77 (unattributed)

Car sponsor Budget Rent a Cars’ Bob Ansett convinced John to hire Frank Gardner to assist with Team Management in the Rothmans International series but a poor championship caused by unreliability was succeeded by a Gold Star win at Surfers. At Sandown the car gave cooling problems but the final round at Phillip Island showed its true pace, 2 seconds a lap clear of the best Lola on this circuit which is a test of power and handling. McCormack was well in the lead when problems again intervened, John pitting for 2 laps then limping home picking up enough points to win his third Gold Star Series. The year was capped with a win in the ‘Rose City 10000’ at Winton.

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McCormack and John Walker, Lola T332 Chev, Oran Park Gold Star round 1978…’lift off’… (John Shingleton)

1978 started poorly with Rothmans Series unreliability followed by an Oran Park Gold Star round win. The Sandown AGP was a terrible race with multiple accidents, the McLaren out virtually from the start with head gasket failures. John dominated at Calder only to run out of fuel with a lap to go. The Phillip Island round was cancelled, John finishing second in the Gold Star.

The season ended again with the ‘Rose City 10000’ at Winton. Amongst the competitors was James Hunt, the 1976 World Champion making a one-off appearance in Australia driving an Elfin MR8 Chev. John was second on the grid to him, Mac having an unfortunate event in which a stone jammed a brake caliper causing a pit stop, he finished fourth in the race won by Hunt.

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‘Perick of a thing, will it last ?’, F5000’s were brittle and the Leyland Repco was never left alone for long…McCormack and team Adelaide International Raceway ’78 (John Shingleton)

1979 also started poorly with 5th the best result from 4 Rothmans International Series meetings ,Larry Perkins won the title in an Elfin MR8 Chev.The cars last F5000 race was the 1979  AGP at Wanneroo Park, Western Australia where a gear broke.

McCormack entered 20 F5000 events for 3 wins and victory in the 1977 ‘Gold Star’ ahead of cars much younger and more powerful than his 1973 McLaren! Unreliability was an issue with 10 DNS/DNF results, mind you the Chevs and Repco Holdens were also brittle.

Can Am 1979…

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M23/2 Can Am, Mid Ohio ’79 (Mark Windecker)

By 1979 F5000 had been ‘destroyed’ by Eric Broadleys fantastic, dominant Lola T330/332/332C series of cars. The Tasman series was over, the Kiwis adopted Formula Atlantic/Pacific and Australia persevered with F5000, somewhat against the global tide. The US F5000 series had died and morphed into 5 litre single seat CanAm sports cars…and McCormack, a professional racer, converted the McLaren from an F5000 to a very attractive CanAm car, M23/2 travelled back over the Pacific again!

‘It was time to have a look at what was happening in the US, things were quiet here so Simon Aram and John Webb designed and built an attractive body and off we went’.

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US paddock shot, circuit unknown. Body designed and built by Simon Aram and John Webb (‘From Maybach to Repco’ Malcolm Preston)

He was taking on a big challenge, the CanAm series in 1979 included Keke Rosberg, Jacky Ickx, Alan Jones, Geoff Lees, Vern Schuppan (Elfin MR8), Bobby Rahal and Al Holbert amongst its competitors. ‘Its true there were some top teams but the quality of the fields rapidly fell away. No one knew the series was on wherever we went, it was poorly promoted, the Americans were much more into Nascar and Indycars, you had to leave the circuit to go and buy fuel at some of the tracks!’

The McLaren competed in 3 rounds for a best result of 12th at Watkins Glen in a series dominated by Lola’s with Ickx winning in a T333CS. ‘There was a weight advantage if you ran 4 litre engines, we did 2 of the races with the 5 litre Leyland and one, the final round, with the 4 litre which gave around 400BHP, the weight thing was academic as the cars were never weighed’. It was no disgrace in this company in a 6 year old car run by a small team far from home. In the end money was tight and it was time to return to Australia to compete in a Jaguar Sports Sedan his team had built, and at the instigation of sponsor, Unipart, the 1980 AGP being run to F5000 and F1 rules!

hill

McCormack in M23/2, Mid Ohio Can Am ’79 (Mark Windecker)

Back to ‘Oz F5000 & finally Home to Woking…

John Mac

John McCormack at the Winton, Victoria, Historic meeting in May 2013, interested, interesting and intelligent. McCormack was outside the mould, successfully going in his own direction throughout his career. I suspect the Leyland engine would have got the better of all but someone like him who applied his experience and pragmatic engineering approach and knowledge to making the thing work despite its fundamental structural weaknesses as a race engine. (Mark Bisset)

Alan Jones was on his way to winning the 1980 World Championship, so the 1980 AGP rules were amended to attract the new champion and his Williams FW07 to Australia, the race allowing both F5000 and F1 cars.

Also making the trip were Bruno Giacomelli and his Alfa 179 and Didier Pironi, of Team Tyrrell who drove an Elfin MR8 for Ansett Team Elfin. McCormacks’ team converted the McLaren back into F5000 form, he was looking forward to the race.’ The McLaren was not a light car it then weighed about 1430 lbs, because the AGP was being run to F1 rules we lightened the car enormously by about 200 lbs. I normally flew to meetings but we a were running late with the preparation of the car so I travelled as a passenger with my mechanic to get some sleep. There was some fog about, he dozed off at the wheel near Keith (in rural South Australia) hitting a tree having glanced off an earth mover which made an horrific accident slightly better than it may have been! I got a brain injury in addition to the physical ones, I have about 70% of my mental capacity, not enough to race again’.

mc laren m23

McCormacks car awaits the driver, Calder paddock AGP 1980…rare shot showing the car in its ‘Resin Glaze’ livery for the event it never started, John badly injured in a road accident in rural SA enroute to Calder (Chris Jewell)

Sadly, that was the last race for both McCormack and the much used M23.  John went on to build a number of successful sports sedans for others and today has property, retail and mining interests near his home town of St Helens on the Tasmanian East Coast.

McLaren built 13 M23’s. M23/2 competed in 54 events, more than any other and winning more races than any other M23 chassis as well, 54 starts for 12 wins. 1 F1 Championship GP, 8 South African Championship rounds and 2 Championships, 3 Australian Gold Star rounds and 1 Championship. Only a CanAm win eluded it in its multi-faceted life.

McCormack was focussed on his health and rebuilding his life, the car was offered locally for sale around 1982, without any takers as F5000 had been replaced by Formula Pacific.

It was just an old uncompetitive car at the time! And then along came McLarens’ Ron Dennis ‘hoovering up’ cars for the factory collection where M23/2, converted back to its Yardley McLaren F1 spec, takes its Museum place in the pantheon of the company’s rich, ongoing 50 year history!

M23/2 travelled the globe as an F1 Car, crossed the Atlantic to South Africa, the Pacific to Australia, back across the Pacific to the States, back to Australia and finally to Woking in the UK, just down the road from Colnbrook where it was built all those years before…a remarkable journey from class to class and back again, competitive all the way throughout!

museum

Monterey Historics : the car in front is an M26 but the rest are M23’s, M23/2 the second car…

 


Etcetera…The story of the McLaren is not complete without delving a bit more into the Engine and its Parentage…

donk

Irving/McCormack/Repco Leyland F5000 engine: drives for oil pumps, dry sump, metering unit, Lucas fuel injection,…all ready for installation into the M23 at McCormacks’ Coongie Avenue, Edwardstown, Adelaide workshop (John Lemm)

Coventry Climax , the ‘Cosworth of their day’ caused chaos for British Grand Prix teams when they announced that they would not build engines for the new 3 litre F1 commencing in 1966. They had been engine suppliers to most of the British teams since 1958.

Repco had serviced the 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF 4 cylinder engines, the engine ‘de jour’ in local Tasman races, but were looking for an alternative to protect their competitive position, Jack Brabham suggested a production based V8 .

He identified an alloy, linerless V8 GM Oldsmobile engine, a project abandoned due to production costs and wastage rates on imperfectly cast blocks. He  pitched the notion of racing engines of 2.5 litre and 3 litre displacements using simple chain driven SOHC heads to Repco’s CEO Charles McGrath.

GM developed a family of engines, the Oldsmobile F85 and Buick 215 almost identical except that the F85 variant had 6 head studs per cylinder head rather than the 5 of the 215 and was therefore Brabhams preferred competition option.

Brabham had seen the engines potential much earlier, racing against Chuck Daighs’ Scarab Buick RE in the cars one off and only race appearance at Sandown in early 1962. The car raced in 3.9 litre form and had plenty of ‘squirt’, albeit the underdeveloped chassis was not as competitive as the Coopers under brakes or through corners.

The engines competition credentials were further established at Indianapolis that year when Indy debutant Dan Gurney qualified Mickey Thomsons’ 215 engined car  8th, the car failing with transmission problems after 92 laps. It was the first appearance of a stock block engined car at Indy since 1945.

scarab

An idea is born…Jack Brabham checking out the 3.9 litre Buick engine in Chuck Daighs’ Scarab RE in its one-off Australian appearance at Sandown in early ’62, its only race experience…(‘Jack Brabham with Doug Nye’ Doug Nye)

Whilst the engine choice was not a ‘sure thing’ its competition potential was clear to Brabham, as astute as he was practical. At the time the engine was the lightest mass production V8 in the world with a dry weight of 144kg with compact external dimensions to boot.

Repco acquired 26 of the F85 blocks and won the 1966/7 World Drivers and Manufacturers Championships as well as countless other races globally with engines using these and later, from 1967, Repco’s own blocks.

repco workshop

Repco’s Maidstone workshops producing the RB620 3 litre F1 engine, 1966

GM sold the production rights of the engine to Rover in 1967. When Phil Irving saw the Leyland engines at the Melbourne Motor Show he thought he knew them well. The original GM design had suffered in its transition to Rover and then to Leyland. In essence their were fewer head bolts on both the inlet and exhaust sides of the heads, the block and heads were sand rather than die cast which made them weaker and less uniform. Finally, the heads had smaller ports than the originals.

The fundamentals of the engine to take increased operating loads and power were lacking. Irving made changes by adding material to the block and head castings which also facilitated the installation of main bearing strengthening bars, such changes homologated by Leyland in accordance with F5000 rules.

Repco claimed 440 BHP with an absolute rev limit of 7500 rpm and a crank life of 1 hour. It was soon found that the fragility of the block and cranks required a maximum of 7000 rpm.

leyland repco

Repco publicity shot of the Leyland Repco engine in its original form as fitted to the Elfin MR6 in 1974 (Repco)

With further development post Repco, McCormacks’ team with the new Comalco heads, different valve sizes, inlet port shapes inspired by Honda and shorter exhaust primaries, John had a vaguely reliable engine consistently giving 435BHP and 410lb ft of torque. Not a lot but enough to do the job, much like the Repco Brabham ‘620 Series engine’ in F1 in 1966, that engine not the most powerful in the field but it did the job, albeit much more reliably than its F5000 relation!

Truly a triumph of development over design on a tiny budget!…

leyland 1

Letter from Leyland Australia to Repco confirming the commercial arrangements to develop the engine, happy days, no lawyers and complex legal agreements! (‘ Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston)

leyland 2

Acknowledgements…

John McCormack for the considerable time he contributed

Malcolm Preston, thanks for your written submission

‘The History of the Grand Prix Car 1966-1985’ Doug Nye

‘Maybach to Holden’ Malcolm Preston

Photographs…

The Rolling Road/John Shingleton, Mark Windecker (CanAm), Autosport TNF, John Lemm, Greg Flood, The Cahier Archive, Greg Falconer, oldracephotos.com, David Pearson, reddit.com, Rob Ryder, Chris Jewell, Werner Buhrer cutaway drawing

 


A few more M23/2 Shots…Addendum…

revson krussel

Peter Revson, German GP 1973, Nurburgring. 9th in the race won by Jackie Stewart (Unattributed)

scheckter & cahrlton

Ian Scheckters Tyrrell 007 in front of Charlton in M23/2 Kyalami 1975 (unattributed)

Sandown

M23/2 Repco, Sandown Park 1977 (unattributed)

winton

winton 78

Rose City 10000, Winton 1978. This race was won by James Hunt in an Elfin MR8 Chev (unattributed)

mac on grid

McCormack on the grid, on the far side is John Walkers’ Lola T332. Oran park Gold Star meeting 1978. (John Shingleton)

mac beside car

‘Don’t let me down baby…’ Adelaide 1978 (John Shingleton)

adelaide

Adelaide 1978, entourage a contrast to the Birrana 274 F2 and Stephen Frasers’ Cicada further back…(John Shingleton)

winton 3

Winton Dummy Grid much the same today, there is a shed where the nifty Dunlop Bus is though. McCormack ‘Rose City 10000’ 1978 (John Shingleton)

mid ohio 3

Mid Ohio CanAm round (Mark Windecker)

mod ohio 4

Wonderful Mark Windecker Mid Ohio shot shows the attractive one-off body fashioned by John Webb and Simon Aram in Adelaide. Still some Repco support, car ran the last Can Am round for the team at Watkins Glen with a 4 litre version of the Repco Leyland, exploiting a weight advantage afforded smaller engines by the rules (Mark Windecker)

t  shirts

And finally, Unipart Merchandising 1978 style…the T-Shirts @ $3.20 are a snip….

Finito…