What is Historic Can-Am?

FIA Appendix K for Historic Cars - opening statement says "Historic Competition is not simply another formula in which to acquire trophies, it is a discipline apart in which one of the essential ingredients is the devotion to the cars and their history."

The exciting, awesome historic Can-Am cars of the original 1966-1974 unlimited era vintage racing on great road racing circuits in Victory Lane Historic Can-Am Features represent that Spirit. They are owned and raced by vintage racers who are passionate about that history. The emphasis is on competition in the spirit of sportsmanship with "Historic Can-Am Only" period prepared cars of the type that ran the 1966-1974 original era real Can-Am. The weekends are complete with special hospitality, parties and awards for entrants, owners, drivers, crews and sponsors.

The crowd revels in the noise, the ground shaking presence as in the past. They were the fastest cars in the world in their time, faster than Indy Cars, faster then Formula One, and better yet they were unlimited in concept and design and they all looked different, strange and awesome. A shock wave hit the spectators as they thundered by. The drivers knew they had the hammers of the gods under their accelerators. They had big engines of eight and twelve cylinders, some turbo charged, some even had multiple engines. Up to 1500 qualifying horsepower by 1973 some said.

The clash was between US and International drivers from the ranks of Sports Cars, Grand Prix, Indy and NASCAR: John Surtees, Parnelli Jones, Jim Hall, Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, George Follmer, Mark Donahue, Jackie Oliver, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, Dan Gurney, Vic Elford, Jody Schecter, Jack Brabham, Sam Posey, Bud Tinglestad, A.J. Foyt, and on and on.

The Canadian American Challenge Cup Series was, in many racing fan's minds, North America's greatest road racing series ever. Can-Am grew from the USRRC for Sports Racing and GT cars formed in 1963 by Tracy Bird, then head of the SCCA, in consultation with Jim Hall of United States Road Racing Championship and Chaparral fame. In 1965, the Canadian Automobile Sports Club (CASC) and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) along with the race tracks and promoters recognized the fan appeal of unlimited sports racing cars and created the Can-Am series for 1966. The unlimited sports cars six race 1966 Can-Am began in Canada at St. Jovite - Mt. Tremblant circuit and soon raced at Mosport, Watkins Glen, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta and all the great road racing circuits in North America. The series was an instant success.

The Can-Am continued through 1969 with virtually no rules; four tires, two seats and go racing. Attendance grew, tracks were added in the US and Canada. A similar series was created in Europe called the Interserie. Can-Am was a crowd, constructor and driver favorite. Denny Hulme, World Driving Champion in F1, openly said he preferred Can-Am racing to Formula One: it was faster, harder and more satisfying! John Surtees, driving a Lola T-70 powered by Chevy was the first champion in 1966. Team McLaren with Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme won in 1967, '68, '69 and were always challenged by the crowd favorite, great white Chaparrals from Texas and the factory Lola Chevys managed by Carl Haas.

The Can-Am began to change in 1970, Bruce McLaren was killed in a pre-season testing accident, innovation was restricted, first banning high suspension mounted wings and then the radically innovative "Sucker" Chaparral banned for 1971. Team McLaren continued to dominate in 1970 and 1971 its last Championship year. Hall, the ultimate innovator, had quit. Porsche and Team Penske with Follmer and Donahue in Turbo Porsches out horsepowered the opposition in '72 and '73. The 1973 fuel crisis brought in mileage rules and out went the turbo Porsches. A last flicker of design elegance, the Shadow DN4 won the final '74 series and it was over.

While the original Can-Am is gone, the cars are back at the track under the auspices of the Historic Can-Am Association for the Victory Lane Historic Can-Am events. The Historic Can-Am Association was formed in 1987. HCAA maintains a registry of cars, crews, drivers, and participants participating in the original and historic Can-Am. The HCAA organizes multiple Historic Can-Am Invitational Features each year for period correct cars since 1990. HCAA is scheduling three Historic Can-Am only features at major spectator vintage races on big safe road racing circuits in 2004. All Features are organized for the Historic Can-Am Association by Victory Lane Motor Sport Marketing as part of the America's Racing Heritageā„¢ program. For information, call Dan Davis, HCAA Chairman, Events Manager at 650-321-1411.

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