No. 959
August 15, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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January 21, 2009

The magic of the Can-Am series lives on.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

I'm sure to some, hearing racing fans of a certain age go on about how great the old Can-Am series was grew tedious long ago. But for others who had the opportunity to witness these cars in their heyday, or for the people who have had the privilege of seeing well-prepared and well-driven Can-Am cars run in some of the more prestigious vintage races of today, the allure and magic of the Can-Am series and its cars will never grow old.

Maybe it was the unbridled and unlimited "blue sky" nature of the series and that the rules consisted of the fact that there were no rules to speak of, or at least none that got in the way of making the cars faster. Creative thinking was an integral part of the Can-Am, and visionaries like Jim Hall pioneered technical developments that still resonate in the racing world today. Or maybe it was the brutal and ferocious sounds that emanated from bigger and bigger V8s with exhausts as big as drain pipes, or the fact that the Can-Am cars were faster than the F1 cars of the day. Whatever the reason, the original Can-Am series is still the most memorable period of road racing in the U.S. and Canada, and the greatest racers and technical minds of the era were on display for all to see.

I had the pleasure recently of viewing the DVD of CAN-AM: The Speed Odyssey, by Robert Nevison, with narration by Sam Posey and Jim Hall, and I highly recommend it to racing fans of all vintages. The Speed Odyssey provides a historical review of the glory days of the original Can-Am series and takes you from the early Group 7 days in 1965-66 at Riverside International Raceway - with luminaries such as Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Graham Hill, Jim Hall, Hap Sharp, John Surtees and Bruce McLaren at work - all the way to the end, when Mark Donohue dominated the series in his Penske Porsche 917/30KL.

With wings glinting in the sun at places like Road America, Riverside, Mosport, St. Jovite, Bridgehampton, Watkins Glen and Laguna Seca, this "road racing counter culture" as Posey says, captured the imagination of fans in North America like no other racing series has since. The pure speed and mystical sounds of these cars come through in this DVD surprisingly well. And the tracks - unencumbered by modern safety concerns such as guard rails - are simply incredible to see in their uncompromising and unsanitized layouts.

The on-track battle in the very first Can-Am between Bruce McLaren and John Surtees is something to behold, with both drivers using every inch of the road and then some, flinging there cars around the track in a virtuoso display. And to see Road America - complete with the forest intact just after the old start-finish line pagoda and not a shred of catch-fencing in sight - is just spectacular. Watching Gurney, Hall, McLaren, Hulme, Surtees, Donohue, Revson et al going through the infamous Kink and powering around the circuit is beyond mesmerizing and the footage of the start of the 1968 Can-Am race there - with the cars sending giant rooster tails up in the heavy rain - is staggering.

I guarantee that you will be working your remote overtime to see whole sections of this DVD over and over again. Just to be able to see racing again in its purest form - where its essence revolved around more speed, more horsepower and unfettered technological development - is a distinct pleasure, and also a painful reminder of just how much contemporary racing has become a tedious dance of restrictions and moribund technological development.

Take a long look at Can-Am: The Speed Odyssey and then imagine what a contemporary road racing series that gets back to the essence of what real racing should be all about might look like.

Something to contemplate as we wait for another racing season to begin...


Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, 1966. Dan Gurney (No. 30 Lola T70 MKII-Ford) lines up next to John Surtees (No. 3 Lola T70 MKII-Chevrolet) for practice for the Player's 200 Can-Am race at St. Jovite. Surtees would go on to win the event after a great duel with Bruce McLaren (No. 4 McLaren M1B Chevrolet). McLaren's teammate Chris Amon (No. 5 McLaren M1B Chevrolet) finished third. Gurney was a DNS due to engine problems.


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