But the statisticians miss something.
And perhaps in doing so they miss the story entirely. In
my view the Can-Am is what it is today for many reasons
than can be tallied on a balance sheet. The reasons bear
on how you, the spectator, have reacted during the past
four years to the spectacle of Can-Am - top drivers competing
in some of the most exciting race cars ever built.
The statisticans can't record how
it feels to have the earth shake under you as a field of
Can-Am cars roars away from the starter's flag. Nor can
they record the tingle of excitement one gets seeing a pair
of Can-Am cars travel side by side into a tight corner.
The sights, the sounds, the smells,
the vibrations - this is what the Can-Am is all about. And
no mater what else is said, the Can-Am would not be the
same without you. It would be nothing at all.
But here we are together, looking
at a new group of drivers and cars. What can you, sprawled
on a grassy spot near your favorite corner or perched on
the edge of a grandstand seat, expect out of the 1970 Can-Am
series? I'm betting there will be plently to see.
First of all, there will be a group
of very young men trying to put an end to the tradition
of "The Bruce and Denny Show." That's the title
applied to the 1969 series, during which the late Bruce
McLaren and his partner Denis Hulme swept to one of the
most impressive championships ever recorded in motor racing.
McLaren ended up on top, winning more than $160,000 and
the J/Wax trophy as the first repeat champion in the Can-Am
series. His teammate and fellow New Zealander, Denis Hulme,
finished close behind on points and was himself richer by
more than $110,000 at series end.
The two New Zealanders combined money,
talent and a painstaking attention to the details of preparing
their cars to race. Not only were these two men consistently
the fastest at each of the eleven races in 1969, but the
were consistently the most reliable. Their rewards were
The team will be without its leader,
of course, in the 1970 series. Bruce McLaren was killed
in England, on June 2 while testing the team's current Can-Am
Even so, it will be tougher than
ever to catch the McLaren Team cars in 1970. Just as the
car you drove to the track took years of Detroit talent
to develop, race cars too have a way of slowly evolving.
Bruce McLaren worked at developing the present team Can-Am
car since 1967. Each year the design has become a bit more
sophisticated and this, coupled with a continuing program
of development of his engines, has made his cars a bit faster.
The team's competitors can take one
of two roads in attempting to match it. They can buy a production
version of last year's McLaren and get a well developed
but slightly out of date machine and hope they can do something
to it to update it. Or they can go to something entirely
new. We'll see quite a bit of both in 1970.
But one thing we won't see are those
high wings that last year seemed to sprout over the rear
sections of all of the top cars in the series. This year
the wings will either be down much closer to the tops of
the cars - and, therefore, less effective - or the cars
will carry no wings at all.
One important innovation in race
car design this year is the Chaparral 2J of Jim Hall. The
quiet Texan is returning to Can-Am action this year after
a full year's convalesence following his crash in the final
race of the 1968 series. Hall's new Chaparral once again
demonstrates his creative talent. Through the use of fans
mounted in the car, the Chaparral is "sucked"
closer to the track go give those wide, wide, Can-Am tires
a better "grip."
In 1966 the man to beat in the Can-Am
was John Surtees. He drove a Lola. Since then the fortunes
of Lola drivers have been eclipsed by the all-conquering
McLarens. In 1970 Lola designer Eric Broadly will field
an all new car to be driven by the talented Peter Revson
of New York, in an attempt to win back some of the glory
Lola once knew.