The Canadian –American Challenge Cup was launched in 1966.It was intended for professional Group 7 sports racing cars.
It was a big bucks spiral with its own Championship Title and big dollar prize money. So why did Lotus not participate when all the evidence and experience indicated they could do well and earn? Particularly as Chapman and Lotus has done so well at Indianapolis through the 1960’s and had used a Ford engine.
In this article we will explore that rational and circumstances.
The record of Lotus in Can-Am is limited .Therefore this article is written as a platform from which we hope we can both base further research and tease out some answers. It’s hoped our North American subscribers will be able to help. The editors have attempted to extrapolate some propositions.
The A&R on behalf of the proposed CCM&EC believes it important to investigate objectively not only the major successes of Colin Chapman and Lotus but also some of the disappointments and failures.
Interwoven with this article the editors will discuss the Chaparral marque. There is an interesting interconnectivity of technological innovation running through both marques design engineers overlaid in the Can-Am series .In order to bring out the fuller details the A&R have produced a dedicated article on the Chaparral marque.
Preamble Can-Am: A Fist Full of Dollars
North America has an honorable and significant history of sports car racing.
This particularly expanded and encompassed amateur sports car racing in the post second world war period. Owner / drivers primarily raced for the sport and were awarded trophies consistent with the amateur status. Big powerful sports cars were popular in the US and formed the backbone of the amateur racing
However this would change with professionalism and prize money in the late 1950’s.
From the early 1960’s racers adapted their popular Cooper Monaco’s and Lotus 19’s [see A&R article] to accept local American V8 engines. Typical was the 4L Buick, 4.7L Ford and 4.6L Chevrolet.
Can –Am emerged from various powerful strains and interest and certainly from a developing momentum. On 15th February 1966 both the American and Canadian racing organizations/ representatives agreed to inaugurate the Canadian-American Challenge Cup. It sought amongst its objectives to bring the drama and excitement of Grand Prix racing to the new North American road circuits. Johnson Wax was an early supporter of the series. It was to succeed big time!
Initially there would be six races between September and November later to be extended to eight and eventually eleven?
“It is really big Series event in the New World, and probably carries the biggest prize money of any group of races in the world. There are a number of Can-Am races, held on big tracks all over the North American continent. Prizes for individual races are big and the prize for the overall winner is bigger still”
At the time Can- Am offered the world’s richest prize money. This to some extend would compare with Indianapolis. The prize money was possible proportionate to attendance. In 1973 for example it has been estimated 402,500 approximately spectated at eight circuits. This and sponsorship possibly made it the attraction and provided the rewards that motivated both local and international competition [manufacturers and drivers]
“The Can-Am was a child of the psychedelic 1960’s launched along with rockets to the moon, and revolutions in society. Americans racing great technological adventure was a noble experiment in unchained performance”
“The early Can-Am was a hot house of enthusiastic exploration into novel unrestricted technologies –engines, transmission, tyres, suspension, aerodynamics and materials”
Can-am engendered international respect providing exciting spectacle along with innovative, intriguing, creative yet diverse design solutions and participation .Some races are recorded as attracting thirty eight entrants.
The Big Bang Theory
Writing in 1971, P Lyons describes his drive with P.Revson in Can-Am car
“A great hammer struck my spine slamming my head back ………….it was rushing like some
Demonic torrent frantic to enter the gates of hell. Small markings –stains, patches, pebbles –appeared as flickers and were gone like dust on a cine film. There was no longer any sensation of speed .we were going to fast………..”
Definition: The Magnificent Seven
Can-Am racers have been considered amongst the ultimate racing machines with few and almost no limitations. In effect almost totally unrestricted. The cars are classed as Group 7, Category “C” in many respects they offered a formula Libre for sports cars. It spawned some outrageous technology. The parameters were:-
- “Sports Cars”
- Two seater [notionally] passenger space just capable accepting passenger to fulfill definition of sports car
- Enclosed aerodynamic two seater bodywork ie.enclosed wheels/tyres
- Unrestricted engine capacity
- Turbocharging or supercharging allowed
- Unrestricted aerodynamics [in early days]
- No minimum weight
- No forbidden materials
- No specified componentry
- Safety standards enforced
From which evolved cars that adopted wings, were extremely light, possessed unheard of speed, developed ground effect and incorporated aerospace materials.
The series was later codified as Group 7 sports cars by the FIA
Can-Am Spectacle and Success
All those who spectated and participated agreed Can-Am was an impressive sight comprising cars which were extrovert and:-
- Sponsor liveried
- Loud ,learey and noisy
- Extremely fast and powerful
- International meld of various manufacturers , drivers
- Possessing a strong North American flavor and culture
- Easily distinguishable
- Competing on high speed road circuits comprising a fluidity incorporating variety of corners and undulating gradients, surfaces.
The editors believe that the success of Can-Am might be due to some of the following:-
- The obvious spectacle mentioned above
- Local and world recognized drivers competing
- Affordability to both competitors and spectators[ some sources suggest an entry spectator ticket price of $5]
- Viewing and ability to be close to the action and close racing
- The predominant use of home grown engines
- American sponsors and related trade support
- Geographical proximity of spectators to tracks
- Extension of racing tradition upgraded and with concession to European practice [ including the combination of British made chassis and American V8 engines ]
- US manufacturer support etc.
- It caught the mood of the era and part overlaid with the hippy movement in California in the late 1960’s
- Attractive proposition to both drivers and designers with considerable freedoms
- Significant winnings and appearance money
- Climate and seasonal advantage vis Europe
Lyons possibly summed it up with the observation that:
“The Can-Am car combined rarefied aerospace science with the red meat muscle of the dragster, the sophisticated European method with gaudy Indy showmanship”
Whilst Dymock commented:-
“New cars appeared at almost every event, and even if some of the drivers did not reach the professional standards of those at the fronts of the grids, the crowds were still rolling up, and enjoying the spectacle of the big, wide racing cars battling it out or merely pursuing the orange McLaren’s on some of the finest tracks in the world”
The Race Series
The series is believed to have grown from 6 [2 races in Canada and 4 in America] to 8 then 11 races by 1969.Some of the following circuits hosted the series:-
Note that some of the circuits are recorded in brief detail in Perkin’s “Indycar”Editor apologies if names of American tracks not fully understood / quoted.
Further reading suggests that Road Atlanta, Chesapeake, Fuji might also be included?
Mount- Tremblant from the net;-
“Mont Tremblant circuit is located in the surroundings of Tremblant Village, near Mont Tremblant skiing facilities, not far from Saint-Jovite in the marvelous Laurentides landscape. It was opened on August 3rd, 1964 in the shortest layout, the “Short Track” (later on renamed North Loop), a 1.5 miles long track with 12 turns. During the following year, in August, the full track was opened, extending its length to 2.65 miles with a total of 15 turns. The circuit features so many ups and downs that Jacky Stewart defined it a “mini-Nürburgring”, making this track very selective and dangerous.”
The Rewards: A Few Dollars More
The editors believe that Graham Hill took winnings of $175,000 for the 1966 Indianapolis. Dymock obsevers that:-
“The world of the Canadian –American Challenge cup is a rich one. Ever since the series began in 1966, the prize money has been enormous by any standards – during the years of Johnson Wax sponsorship, the McLaren team won over a million dollars….in 1966 …..The series was an immediate success .The awards totaled $360,000.”
The editors believe that John Surtees won between 48-$70,000 in Can Am, 1966.
He continues with what seems to be reference to 1967:
“Prize money reached a new total of $500,000 of which $210,000 was in guaranteed race purses and $900,000 in the drivers’ championship fund, which paid $31,500 for first place, down to $2,700 for tenth. In addition there was$ 200,000 for accessory awards or trade bonus……… Bruce McLarens own solitary win in 1968 was in the $100,000 Times Grand Prix at Riverside”
Pritchard states in “Specialist British Sports Cars” that Bruce McLaren in 1969 won the Can Am series with winnings of $ 158,750.Of course this has to be weighed in relative terms and translated into today’s prices. Also to be factored in are the cost of the cars and overheads possibly taxes and other considerations for the figures to be truly meaningful. For example; it’s thought at the time the $/Dollar /sterling conversion was between 2-3 $ to £ pound sterling.
D.Hulme is reputed to have won $660,000 between 1967-1972.
It’s been estimated that typical McLaren sports racing car cost approximately £11-13,000 in period but the Porsche 917-10K with its light weight chassis comprising magnesium tube, titanium and alloy components plus the 5L flat 12 turbo charged engine was sold to customers for £65,000. [Engines at £25,000 each and gearbox £5,000]; see paragraph below for prices of the Lotus Types 30 &40.
Some sources suggest that the total prize fund might have reached $1 million.
|Year||Winner||Approx. Prize Money $|
Source: “On Four Wheels” No.16/Mike Kettlewell
The Competitors: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [Orange and White Elephants]
|The following list has been extracted from various internet sites.|
|One –off might also include Hayman,HoareMacs-it Special, Platypus,Nickey Vinegaroom II
The regulations created an environment of innovation and specifications extended from the sublime to the ridiculous. But this was good for the sport and for spectators. See some details and comparisons below.
Some of the most significant cars were McLaren M1B, M6B,M8 B,C,D&E, Lola Type 70 in various specifications, and the T260 , Ferrari 612,Porsche 917/,Chaparral 2E.
Can-Am Round 1
The editors believe the following circuits comprised round 1:-
o Mount Tremblant
o Mosport Park
o Laguna Seca
The Can-Am Champions
|The under 2L class might have also include Ralt, Marquey, Scandia, and March.
It’s evident that Lotus did not really contest the Can-Am Championship although some interesting home grown marques did.
|Technical Specification Comparisons
Comparative analysis taken from “The Worlds Racing Cars” by Twite.
All the salient points are brought out within the specifications: primarily the spectacle, speed, sound, physical preence and advanced technologies and materials. Although the American V8 engine dominated there were some considerable variety.
Chaparral [The Texas Rangers]
Jim Hall was a talented engineering graduate and also an accomplished driver. He had owned and driven a Lotus 18. He may have also come into contact with British sports racing cars such as the Lister, Cooper Monaco and Lotus 19.The comparison with Chapman is worthy of comparison ; both men were considerable innovators and embraced aeronautical engineering practice / materials. And both men enjoyed considerable international success .For example both won at Indianapolis. Both men voiced concerns about the politics of the sport they felt undermined innovation. Chapman relating to the twin chassis and Hall for the aerodynamic technology of his 2J.Both men raced their own cars with considerable success. Hall withdrawing following a serious accident
It’s believed that in the early 1960’s Jim Hall moved to Midland, Texas and set up Rattlesnake Raceway. This was a private test track constructed to be demanding like a road circuit. He joined forces with Hap Sharp [both men had earned their fortunes in the oil industry] and formed Chaparral Cars Inc.; they are considered co- designers. About the same time Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes set up their engineering firm in Culver City, California. They would construct cars to Hall’s design / specification.
The Lotus Type 30 & 40 [Group 7 Sports Racing Cars-1964/1965]
The Types 30/40 would have seemed to be contenders for Can-am but due to problems we record they had limited success or entry. It ought to be noted that they were not designed specifically for Can-Am and actually predate it.
The Type 30 and 40 and thought to be amongst the less successful of the Lotus competition cars.
The author would suggest a re-examination and when seen in a different context perhaps these machines might be re-evaluated.
The Type 30 and 40 specification aligns it with Can-Am but there were obvious deficiencies. This will be developed in a subsequent paragraph.
The A&R approach is to measure and contrast for the purpose of evaluation. The author therefore recommends the forthcoming article on the Ford Fairlane Lola GT that has a direct relevance to understanding both the context and performance of the Types 30 and 40.
Editors sketch of the Lotus 30
Lotus 30 and North American Racing
The editors believe that both Bob Challman and D.Gulstrand competed in North American circuit races which might have included early rounds of Can-Am.
A useful table of peer competitors is extracted from the entrants at the 1964 Canadian GP, Mosport [26/9/1964]
|1||Jim Clark||Team Lotus (GB)||Lotus||30||Ford||S+2.0|
|2||Walt Hansgen||North American Racing Team (USA)||Ferrari||275 P||Ferrari||S+2.0|
|3||Ludovico Scarfiotti||North American Racing Team (USA)||Ferrari||330 P||Ferrari||S+2.0|
|4||Pedro Rodriguez||North American Racing Team (USA)||Ferrari||330 P||Ferrari||S+2.0|
|5||Vic Yachuk||Portland Garages (CDN)||Lotus||19||Climax||S2.0|
|6||Hugh Dibley||Hugh Dibley (GB)||Brabham||BT8||Climax||S2.0|
|7||James Scott||Carl Haas Automobile Imports Inc. (USA)||Elva||Mk VII||BMW||S2.0|
|11||M. R. J. Wyllie||M. R. J. Wyllie (USA)||Lola||Mk.1||Climax||S2.0|
|12||George Wintersteen||George Wintersteen (USA)||Cooper||Monaco||T61M||Chevrolet||S+2.0|
|17||Joe Buzzetta||Robt. Bosch Spark Plug Racing Team (USA)||Elva||Mk VII||Porsche||S2.0|
|19||Peter Goetz||Peter Goetz (USA)||Elva||Mk VII||Ford||S2.0|
|20||Mike Goth||Michael Goth (USA)||Lotus||23||Alfa Romeo||S2.0|
|21||Robs Lamplough||Robert Lamplough (GB)||Brabham||BT8||Climax||S2.0|
|22||Tommy Hitchcock||Celerity Inc.||Brabham||BT8||S2.0|
|27||Charlie Hayes||Carl Haas Automobile Imports Inc. (USA)||Elva||Mk VII||BMW||S2.0|
|30||Bob Grossman||Scuderia Bear (USA)||William McKelvy||Ferrari||250 LM||Ferrari||S+2.0|
|41||Peter Lerch||Peter Lerch (CDN)||Peter Lerch||Lotus||19||B||Ford||S+2.0|
|43||Phil Smyth||Dr. Phil Smyth (CDN)||Lotus||23||B||Ford||S2.0|
|47||Bruce McLaren||Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. (NZ)||McLaren||Elva Mark I||Oldsmobile||S+2.0|
|55||Ludwig Heimrath||Canadian Comstock Ltd. (CDN)||Cooper||Monaco||T61M||Ford||S+2.0|
|66||Jim Hall||Chaparral Cars Inc. (USA)||Chaparral||2A||Chevrolet||S+2.0|
|71||Skip Hudson||Nickey Chevrolet (USA)||Cooper||Monaco||T61M||Chevrolet||S+2.0|
|77||Bill Wuesthoff||Robt. Bosch Spark Plug Racing Team||Elva||Mk VII||Porsche||S2.0|
|81||Wayne Kelly||Bata Shoe Co. Ltd. (CDN)||Kelly||Special||Porsche||S2.0|
|89||John Cox||Team Speedwell (CDN)||Speedwell||Special||S2.0|
|94||Wayne Burnett||Wayne Burnett (USA)||Ferrari||250 TR||Ferrari||S+2.0|
|95||George Reed||George Reed (USA)||Ferrari||250 TR||59/60||Ford||S+2.0|
|99||Herb Swan||Herb Swan (USA)||Porsche||718 RS 61||Porsche||S2.0|
|133||Rudy Bartling||Heimrath Porsche Racing Team (CDN)||Porsche||718 RS 61||Porsche||S2.0|
|155||Norm Evenden||Norm Evendon (USA)||Cooper||Monaco||T61||Ford||S+2.0|
|169||Nat Adams||Tidewater Oil Co. Ltd.||Lotus||23||Climax||S2.0|
Entered cars that did not arrive:
|8||Jerry Grant||Bardahl Lubricants||Lotus||19||B||Chevrolet||S+2.0|
|14||Jack Moore||Jack Moore (USA)||Shelby||Cobra||Chevrolet||S+2.0|
The Continuum and Context.
The Types 30 and 40 ought to be seen in context of Lotus development.
The editor makes these connections and links.
Type 19 Sports Racer 1960
Type 23 Sports Racer 1962
Type 25 F1 1962
Type 26 Elan 1962
Type 28 Lotus Cortina 1962
Type 29 Indianapolis Car 1963
Type 30 Group 7 1964
Type 34 Indianapolis Car 1964
Type 38 “ “1965
Type 40 1965
Type 46 Europa S1 1966
Type 47 Racing Europa 1966
The conventional wisdom or history suggests that Chapman had hoped to win a contract/ commission to develop a sports racing car for Ford. This did not materialise and went to Lola and that the Types 30 and 40 were inferior attempts.
The editor would suggest the reference to the continuum of Lotus development and its breakneck speed. Chapman and Lotus had developed extremely successful links with Ford and the reason for loss of the commission is not really known but Lotus had track record and real urgency to deliver.
Whether Le Mans history impacted cannot be known.
Lotus achievements were staggering with one or more new products per year. This has to be understood in the context of their labour force and income [sadly objective information does not exist although it’s important to make some ball park calculation] but it was not the budget that Ford was able to commit. If the product was less than successful over stretching might have been the cause.
Should have Ford invested rather than Lola the result might have been very different and perhaps it ought be recalled that although the Lola spawned the Ford GT40 it was not spectacularly successful in its own right and the GT40 only came good after a multimillion $ research and development programme.
It’s worth noting the Ford Fairlane Lola GT launched 1963 and the Ford GT40 was completed in 1963 and raced 1964.
The author also suggests other possibilities that might have impacted on the design and performance of the 30&40. It might have been intended that the car was to be a closed coupe and some additional stiffness might have been imparted to the chassis .The other feeling is that perhaps somewhere in the background the 30 &40 were intended to grow into an integrated family of sports cars commencing with a relatively small capacity Ford engine. These models might have performed far better without the enormous and heavy V8. Taylor quotes weight between 1529-1650 lbs.
It cannot be known if the Europa was conceived directly or indirectly from the 30 &40 but it suggests whatever Chapman’s inadequacies he never failed to move on and incorporate lessons at devastating speed. The knowledge gained was also probably carried through from the Europa to the Esprit range.
In defence of the Type 30 & 40 they were sold at very competitive prices [Taylor noted that “The Lotus 30 was offered to the public at a reasonable £3,495” and refereeing to the Type 40 “Lotus Components put its works cars up for sale in April 1966 at £3,750 each”] and this enabled many to reach, afford and participate in a class of racing that might not otherwise been available. Many were developed and significantly improved. They were possibly too powerful for their aerodynamics and with the expense of wind tunnel testing they were in unknown territory. Later in the 1960’s the early generation of super cars were still experiencing front-end lift.
Conventional wisdom says that these models were a relative failure; they might not have sold in the volumes of the Eleven and 23 but a respective number were made.
These models were extremely beautiful and almost the last of an era. Although not the greatest of commercial and competition success they were not an absolute failure for such a small company without subsidy from government or mass production.
They have found favour with historic racers and remain magnificent and worthy competition to the likes of Ferrari, Lola, McLaren and Chaparral
The Design and Aesthetic [see photographs in related articles and diagram above]
The Type 30& 40 were designs conceived to conform to Group Seven and Can –Am racing. They were designed and built c 1964 by Chapman, Len Terry [who may have had reservations for various reasons and other engineers at Lotus] the company was at Chesthunt during this period.
The considerable aesthetic beauty of the Type 30 &40 models possibly emanates from their organic forms. This might also have contributed in part to some of the handling failures. The chassis relative to the V8 was another consideration. The car depending on gearing, at least theoretically was capable of 150 mph plus.
The dimensions and hence proportions:
26.5” high top of windscreen
Note an average approximation has been made across both cars.
It might have raced in the “Big Banger” class but this was no brute.
The original prototype body was believed to have been executed in aluminum and subsequently in glass fibre.
The 30&40 and a symphony of sensuous curvaceous flowing curves in elevation and section. Large handsome and imposing. Voluptuous. It has presence. Large hansom imposing.
The undulating wave like form is far more pronounced than the 19 or 23. The respective wings height front and rear visually indicate/ articulate /communicate / orientate and hence identify form and function. Of course this is reinforced by cockpit position also.
The screen fuses, integrates and nestles between the rounded domed top wheel arches.
The extremely reclined seating position dictates the long cockpit opening and Perspex screen angled back on a sharp rake.
Seen head on all the main design features and proportions are accentuated. The profile is an exaggerated bent wire “M”. The considerable width is apparent across the shallow “bonnet” which forms a flat-bottomed valley between the parabolic curves of the front wheel arches. Under which a spare wheel was mounted.
The low set nose is a bunted arrowhead in to which two radiators are ducted. The Perspex headlamp covers suggest night racing can be considered.
When fitted with a roll bar the car loses some of its undulating grace and the hard-edged geometry of these bars breaks the uninterrupted flow of the original design.
The rear elevation has certain symmetry with the front but in the “valley” there is an engine cover .The 13×7 tyres speak of the era and the power being delivered from the V8.
The author likes and admires the aesthetic of the Type 30 &40.They are perhaps amongst the last of the “organic” shape prior to the perhaps more efficient aerodynamically but less visually appealing sharp edged, squared off and flat surface wedge bodies.
The 30&40 possess harmony and poise despite their bulk and power. This might be helped but the undulating profile and very low build. Seen at rest or in motion all lines and proportion flow and integrate with a homogeneous 3D totality.
The design has expression and vocabulary and clearly distinguishes which is front and rear and which way the car travels. This is not always the case with mid and rear engine cars. They often became schizophrenic and the viewer does no know which way they are facing.
The power and performance of these “Big Bangers” produced some brutish Tyson looks but the Type 30&40 retained much of the lithe muscular and athleticism of Ali.
The cockpit was entered via relatively long drop down doors. The driver was required to surmount a wide cill that housed petrol tanks. The black plastic seats ran flat to the floor and the driver as mentioned was in a very inclined position approximately 40degree lean backwards. Most drivers’ eye line was just above the Perspex screen. A small diameter leather rimmed Motolita steering wheel was often fitted.
The backbone chassis formed a prop shaft tunnel that rose from the floor to approximately outstretched elbow level. The dashboard is believed to have formed part of the body and relatively small instruments were fitted possibly including revcounter, speedo, water and oil temperature, oil pressure and toggle switches.
Of course the gear change lever is on the right hand site for the rear-mounted gearbox.
Finished in Team Lotus colours of BRG and yellow with stripe. It accentuated the low purposeful build. The knocks on hub wheels were complementary and not excessive.
Types 30&40 Retail and Production
Taylor provides the relevant information .He suggests the respective cars were retailed as follows:-
Year Type No. Retail Produced
C1964 Type 30 £3,495 33 [21xS1&12S2]
C1965/66 Type 40 £3,750 3
By comparison the Indianapolis Type 38 was sold to customers at $22,500 c 1965.
Taylor suggests Jim Clark drove a Type 30 in the Canadian GP and at California and possibly at Riverside.
Route 66: The Lotus Type 66 Can Am Project proposal
Writing in September 2016, Motor Sport, Clive Chapman reveals that his father did contemplate a Can-Am car .He suggests that Geoff Ferris made some drawings and he shows the side elevation layout with CAD imagery to give 3D form to the proposal. These drawings suggest and idea was being worked up in September 1969.
Their ought to have been considerable interest from Chapman and Lotus with their ability to exploit:-
- Track record and brand image in USA
- Chapman experience with aerodynamics and larger capacity engines
- The possibility of JPs sponsorship
- The open regulations
- The possibility of Ford or Chevrolet engines
- The possibility of either a full works Team [enjoying climate for drivers at end of European season ] or customer cars
- Chapman might have believed there was the potential for duplication /mutation into F5000 or possibly a road car
The reasons not to develop the Type 66 or contest the series have not been recorded. However the editors will attempt to surmise.
The Chapman/ Lotus absence and failure to register success in Can-Am seems difficult to fathom. Although we note that several low key Lotus were entered or modified to compete. It would seem to play to Chapman’s strengths and commercial opportunities including:-
- The unrestricted rules
- His history of using Ford V8 engines at Indianapolis
- The prize money
- The circuits suiting the cars
- British and American drivers familiar with the cars were available and willing to compete
The editors would postulate that Chapman’s failure to exploit the opportunity might be drawn from some of the following circumstances:-
- The Lotus Type 30/40 were not properly developed
- They were built marginally too soon , and did not create the best reputation
- They might have also fallen between eras of technological development particularly relating to tyre technology and aerodynamics
- Perhaps in the attempt for simplicity and affordability the chassis an suspension were an inappropriate combination relative to power and speed being extracted
- Critically it ought be stated that the cars might have befallen the Chapman malaise of a combination of being overstretched organizationally, lacking resources, lacking testing and a certain impatience across all to seek incremental progress allied with an expectation and budget requiring instant success. However it must always be noted the enormity of output and diversity of machinery – road and track that Chapman/Lotus delivered particularly in the decade of the 1960’s. Not least the three World Championships
- There is a possibility that he was unable to muster a suitable racing team
- Perhaps too Chapman’s reputation in the US might have been slightly tarnished by the Elite and some aspects of the Indianapolis programme.
- Its worth noting that the other main competitors were more focused and restricted their racing campaigns
- It’s not known whether logistics played any part it would seem unlikely , there is a possibility that sponsorship might have not been available.Tyres is a particular instance
- The editors also question if a Ford engine was available; possibly Ford wished to concentrate their resources elsewhere although the home grown championship would seem an ideal marketing opportunity and with Chapman /Lotus connection at Indianapolis providing track record. Ford might not have wanted a rival to the GT40
- Similarly it might be that tyres were not available for various reasons
- It’s also worth pondering if Chapman would have entertained a works team or sold to privateers? in this instance there was strong competition and established winners
- Can-Cam like other forms of competitive racing can suffer from their own success. The large winnings no doubt forced expensive R&D .By the time that Chapman was considering a dedicated Can Am car the series was approaching its nadir
- Perhaps too we ought consider that Chapman questioned if he could catch up late in the 1960’s and that a poor showing far from helping sales could generate negative publicity
- Success in FI might have been considered sufficient at the time for the sales volume and intended markets?
Perhaps we ought never to forget that Chapman and Lotus were a commercial concern and survival factors were primary considerations.
Can –Am was a considerable success for all parties concerned. Not least was the technical innovation that it engendered. [See technical specification above] Of course this was truly competitive and the prize money both made it possible and worthwhile. Can-Am witnessed some truly outrageous and pioneering technology and this was no bad thing.
It possibly offered a special spectacle for a North American audience with its special meld of American and European technologies and international mix of drivers.
Although Chaparral did not win the greatest number of races / championships they led with a virtual all American assemblage. This must have significant psychological boost with moral affirming and the potential to compete successfully on the world stage.
Of course in the paragraph above we have to note that this was one major opportunity that Chapman let go by. It seems very significant that he missed the opportunity and it would be good research to discover the objective facts.
Dymock summarizes extremely well:-
“During the Johnson Wax years, the Can-Am series was a phenomenon, advancing American road racing by a dozen years within the span of half that time. It established in America a new sort of prestige, well organized motor racing that matched [except, perhaps in the tradition of 70 years] anything in Europe”
Can-Am brought forward some of the greatest drivers, engineering design and race spectacle in one series. Through the process it won international respect.
Decline and Revival
The classic Can –Am ended in 1974.there was several reasons for this:-
- Spiraling costs associated with some of the extreme technology and space race materials
- General and related costs of competing [see above]
- World economic recession brought on by oil/ energy crisis
- Possibly related falling support from sponsors vis recession
- Possibly over domination by few marques
- Possibly falling attendance relating to combination of other factors mentioned
Can-Am was followed by F5000 then later revived in modified form between 1980-1987. It was further briefly reintroduced 1998/99. A form of Can-Am reinvented between 2004-2009 in the form of Le Mans Prototypes.
Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.
These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.
In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-
- Obtain customers car sales for main rivals to Lotus 30/40 –how do they compare?
- Conduct SWAT or Cost Benefit Analysis that Chapman might have undertaken to evaluate returns of Can-Am series
- Conduct research detect if Can-Am sales had beneficial impacts on manufacturers and engine suppliers
- Which marques competed in FI, Can-Am and Indianapolis?
- Use CAD drawing of proposed Lotus 66 a produce traditional elevation views ,can you detect inspirations in its forms
- Use same drawings to produce imagery that Chapman might be used to attract sponsor in particular draw the proposed Type 66 in JPS colours.
- Suggest a proposal that Chapman might have laid before sponsors
- Design a closed GT road car based around the Type 30/40 in the Chapman mould
Exhibitions, Education and Economics
The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
In particular the Can-Am series and recent historical recreation provides a glorious opportunity for exhibitions and interpretations.
Set in the mid-late 1960’s it falls in a significant cultural era across two continents. It touches the space race, societal change, women’s lib, Vietnam, pop music and the hippies. Into which is feed the extrapolation of the space race materials, technologies but also reasonably inexpensive fuel.
Can-Am was an evident success and the proposed CCM&EC ought be able to present and interpret this to a wide audience whilst retaining a strong educational / analytical questioning relating to Chapman’s strategically conduct.
Some exhibition titles might include:-
- Forty Shades of Green: Lotus 30 &40
- Type 66 mocked up
- Home on the Range: Lotus Brand racing in America
- Bangers And Smash: Can-Am racing
- Wild, Wild Horses: Engine Capacity growth during Can-Am era
- Can-Am: From Pony Express to Pony Excess
- Litres and Meters: Can-Am Cars
- Can-Am cars Spread their wings
- Can-Am race car Rodeo
Can-am was a great series at a great time of the 1960’s spanning pop and the hippy era.
Can-am was successful on many fronts. It possibly became a victim of its success. As in other branches of motorsport even those intended to be affordable have a tendency to see costs escalate.
The purse of Can-Am possibly accentuated this .The high rewards possibly warranting high levels of technology and expense. But there were external factors too not least the oil crisis of the 1970’s.
It’s interesting that authors including Crombac have not explored why Chapman did not contest Can-Am; although Ludvisgen suggests disillusionment with the larger capacity racers.
Chapman’s failure to exploit Can-Am is an anomaly. As we have noted there is all the evidence and inducements he required. Can-Am attracted other marques whom competed with Lotus in other classes but were not always more successful.
The deduction being that Chapman perhaps came to realize that he was spreading his meagre resources too far and that despite the prize and prestige of Can-Am he could not succeed without other sacrifices .Throughout motorsport technology and costs were rising and perhaps Chapman felt that in order to retain preeminence in FI with its impact on sales of his road cars he ought focus and restrict participation where results might not be gained. Of course their might be other political issues we will never know.
As there has been little formal debate on this subject; it’s to be hoped that discussion can be provoked and some hypothesis explored.
Technical Specification of Canadian GP, 1964 [see details above]
|2||Ferrari 275 P||Ferrari||3300 cc||V12||N/A|
|3||Ferrari 330 P||Ferrari||4000 cc||V12||N/A|
|4||Ferrari 330 P||0820||Ferrari||4000 cc||V12||N/A|
|7||Elva Mk VII||BMW||N/A|
|11||Lola Mk.1||BR30||Climax||1500 cc||N/A|
|17||Elva Mk VII||Porsche||N/A|
|19||Elva Mk VII||Ford||N/A|
|20||Lotus 23||Alfa Romeo||N/A|
|27||Elva Mk VII||BMW||N/A|
|30||Ferrari 250 LM||5909||Ferrari||3300 cc||V12 2v 1xOHC||N/A|
|47||McLaren Elva Mark I||BMMR 1/64||Oldsmobile||/Traco||3900 cc||V8||N/A|
|55||Cooper Monaco||CM/6/63||Ford||4700 cc||V8/90° 2v OHV||N/A|
|66||Chaparral 2A||001||Chevrolet||5500 cc||V8||N/A|
|77||Elva Mk VII||Porsche||N/A|
|94||Ferrari 250 TR||0714TR||1958||Ferrari||3000 cc||V12||N/A|
|95||Ferrari 250 TR||0770TR||Ford||7000 cc||V8||N/A|
|99||Porsche 718 RS 61||Porsche||N/A|
|133||Porsche 718 RS 61||Porsche||N/A|
Entered cars that did not arrive:
Can Am challenge 1966-87 in FI Register Record Book.Rabagliati, Page, and Sheldon.FI Record.2001
Can-Am Cars in Detail. Pete Lyons [photographs by P.Harholdt].David Bull.2010
Can-Am Photo History. Pete Lyons. Motor books.1999
Chaparral Can-Am and Prototypes Race Cars. Dave Friedman.Motorbooks.1998
Chaparral. The Texas Roadrunner. Friedman, Kazuo, Hayashi, Miyoshi.News Publishing Co. [Japan] 1997. [Non ISBN reference 978/4938495534]
Chaparral- Complete History of Jim Hall’s Chaparral Race cars 1961-1970.Richard Falconer and Doug Nye.Motorbooks.1992
Chaparral. Jim Hall and Dave Friedman.Motorbooks.1998
Can-Am Cars, 1966-74.Dave McKinney. Osprey
Can-Am Racers 1966-69.Brooklands
Can-Am Racers 1970-74.Brooklands
Can-Am Racers 1966-74.R. Clark.Brooklands.
Can-Am Challenger.Peter Bryant. David Bull. See A&R Book review Can-Am Challenger
Chaparral: Can-am Racing Cars from Texas. Karl Ludvigsen
Chaparral. Classic &Sports cars. August 1989
Lola, Can-Am and Endurance Race Cars.D.Friedman.MBI.1998
On Four Wheels.Orbis Publishing. Can-Am by Mike Kettlewell
Lotus Sports Racers. [Colin Pitt] Unique Motor Books. ISBN: 1841554308
The Lotus Book. William Taylor. Coterie Press. ISBN: 1902351002
The World of Racing Cars.Dymock.Hamlyn.1972.
The Worlds Racing Cars.Twite.Macdonald.1971
Can-Am 50th.anniversary.Flat out with North America’s Greatest Race Series 1966-74.Levy&Biro .Motorbooks.2016.
Cut away drawings by James Allington and Dick Ellis for Autocar.
Bob Challman: www.ultimateracinghistory
“Motor Sport” .September, 2016.
*References obtained through the British Library
A&R library – see also book review
Figure 1.Advert poster capturing the essence of the 1965 event with Clark in winning Lotus 38