OK people, listen up. Pop some popcorn and settle in for a really good video, by SpeedOdyssey films, 2008.

CanAm. The ultimate run-what-you-brung series. No balance of performance nonsense.

Huge purses attracted drivers from all over the world, and encourage innovation. The McLaren M20 driven by Denny Hulme had an alloy Chevy big block had over nine liters of displacement. Donohue’s ’73 917-30 had 1,100 hp with its twin turbo, 12-cylinder monster engine.

Then there were the beautiful and very innovative Chaparrals that were an inspiration for myself and others to become car designers.

Get a feeling for what the drivers experienced trying to control these unlimited monsters that were faster than formula 1 cars at Watkins Glen.

Narrated by Sam Posey. It covers the CanAm from 1964 through 1973 with short segments highlighting many of key events of many of the epic CanAm races.

Riverside. Mosport. Road Atlanta. Road America Bridgehampton. Laguna Seca. Watkins Glen, Stardust.

There are many short interviews with Jim Hall, Mark Donohue, Roger Penske, Dan Gurnery, and Bruce Mclaren.

Chaparrals, Ferrari, McLaren M20, Lola T-70, Porsche 917-30, UOP Shadow. Peter Revson, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jim Hall, Hap Sharp, Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss, Jackie Oliver, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Mark Donohue.

I remember the cars grouped on their formation lap shaking the ground. I remember watching the cars drift at speed around turn 2 at Riverside. I remember Donohue in the 917-30 at Mid Ohio in 1974 make it look so easy in a car that made a fraction of the sound as the rest of the field.

And I remember watching Hall’s Chaparral horrific somersault over Lothar Motschenbacher McLaren at Stardust in 1968.

What do you remember?


Related links on Dean’s Garage: Jim Hall, CanAm, My Racing Home Movies from the ’60s and ’70s, Mark Donohue, ’80s RIR photos by Mike Parris.

1974 CanAm photos from Mid Ohio and Road America.

Not the greatest photos, but maybe some will be of interest. Photographer: me.

  1. Clark Lincoln

    Fantastic period in sport car racing! Not much in sponsorship- mostly rich guys toys with hired brave drivers (except for the likes of Jim Hall/Hap Sharp and a few others.). Very dangerous racing. I examined an exact reproduction of one of the mid series Chaparrals and you wouldn’t believe the thickness of the 6061 aluminum used in the monocoque! I could nearly dent it with my thumb. (I was repairing the aluminum monocoque on my Lola S2 at the time) Remember Colin Chapman’s advice “add lightness”.

  2. WOW!
    What a collection of pictures. Thanks Gary.

  3. Jeff Kennedy

    A couple of the photos are from the reincarnated CanAm with the Formula A/5000 cars with full bodies.

    Left out was the Chapparal sucker car. I remember it at Laguna Seca making a dust cloud when it got off the pavement.

    One of the early (first?) years of the Porsche 917 Can Am in preparation of the race at Laguna Secan it was at the Monterey Porsche dealer. In the evening it was in the service bay as the mechanics were working on it with the roll up door up and people were allowed to watch from outside. I specifically remember a mechanic check the turbo blow off valves by tapping them down (they were spring loaded).

    Laguna Seca regularly had foggy mornings. One would hear, but not really see these beasts try to come to life for the first time in the morning. If down in the paddock one could see mechanics squirting ether into the stacks to attempt to coax initial life. They would cough and snort, occasionally run for a few second that quit. After multiple attempts there would eventually be sustained life and the ground shook.

  4. Many thanks Gary for the great pictures. Yes, racing hasn’t been the same.

  5. William Harold Michalak

    Great job Gary ! That certainly was a wonderful series of races over the years! Seeing them at the historic races at Road America brought back many memories.

  6. James E. (Jed) Duvall

    This is great. The S.C.C.A. created two great series: The Trans-Am and the Can-Am. The Can-Am morphed into Formula 5000. Like all good things, when the tire wars faded (Goodyear vs. Firestone vs. Dunlop) and the things retrenched to where U.S.A.C. and N.A.S.C.A.R. survived. The S.C.C.A. went back to sports cars and smaller formula cars as U.S.A.C. began to splinter with Championship Auto Racing Teams in 1979. But for a brief shining moment, the world had Lolas, Loti, Coopers, Elva-McLarens, McLarens, B.R.M.s, Ferraris, Porsches, McKees, Chaparrals and even a Honker ! The finest drivers in the world participated in the CanAm. The 1960s and the early-to-mid 1970s were a magical time. As a young man, I could not wait to receive my copy of “The Competition Press” and “Road & Track”. Sadly, it did not last !

  7. Kevin Bishop

    This series made an indelible imprint on me. As a 19-year-old, I spent Saturday night camped out at Watkins Glen in the infield campground nicknamed “The Swamp”, an exuberant overnight gathering of inebriated fans attending the July Sunday afternoon 1969 CanAm event. The thunder from the Chevy big block racers assaulted all your senses (you literally felt it on your chest) as they careened around the circuit. It was a no-holds-barred, bring-what-you-got series that led to an accelerated development of racing technology in less than a decade that has not since been matched. The following year, I watched Dan Gurney win the 1970 CanAm event at Mosport Ontario on a hot June day, just weeks after the death of Bruce McLaren as Gurney substituted for what was meant to be Bruce’s ride. Thanks to the sponsorship of J-Wax and saturation ads on pop-music AM radio, the “internet” of the era, there was over a hundred thousand spectators at both races. You really felt part of a major social happening on the scale of Woodstock but for racing fans!

  8. Popadic

    Fantastic movie. The Cheverral 2J is the greatest race car ever made. Greetings from Switzerland.

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