Can Am Series 1967
The Ford Motor Company may have a far tougher job dominating the Can-A sports/racing car series than it had winning Indianapolis and LeMans. At the Brickyard and the Sarthe circuit, Ford brought brand new technology to bear on relatively archaic rivals.
At Indy, Ford was up against the Establishment's 30-year-old Offenhauser engines and crude roadster chassis. At Le Mans, the Establishment's equipment was comprised mainly of low displacement, high revving motors.
The Can-Am, not yet a full year old, has no Establishment, and the machinery comes from the same blend of American know-how and European design talent that Ford used to blow off the opposition at Indy and Lc Mans. So Ford is no longer grenading tried-and-true fish ill a barrel; Ford, like everybody else is starting from scratch. And most significant of all, Ford is locked in a duel with its arch-rival, Chevrolet.
But, don't think that Ford isn't going to be in there fighting. After winning Le Mans for the second time, Ford management began to feel that they had proved their point, and were considering abandoning their annual pilgrimage to road racing's mecca, and concentrating On road racing at home, particularly in the Can-Am, where they had been badly beaten in 1966. Any indecision Ford may have been experiencing was quickly forgotten when the FIA's rules body slapped a 3-liter limit On Group 6 racing, rendering Ford's equipment obsolete.
All the while however, the Le Mans program had been generating experimental hardware for potential use in 1968, and among this new equipment was one of the wildest engines ever built in Dearborn. Nicknamed the Calliope, it is an all-alloy, dry-sump V-8, with three valves per cylinder set in a shallow, slightly distorted hemispherical combustion chamber. The two intake valves (1.74 in. each) are arranged at a 370 angle (18.50. on either side of the bore centerline) from the single exhaust valve (1.89 in.). The exhaust valve is displaced about 0.5 in. off the bore centerline, allowing the spark plug to be nearly centered in the combustion chamber.
The Calliope's valves are push rod operated by two camshafts. But instead of being overhead camshafts, they are arranged one above the other, in the valley between the two cylinder banks. The two cams (exhaust above, intake below) are necessary to provide room for the 24 cam lobes, and to permit reasonable rocker geometry without having to run push rod tubes
through the intake ports (as is done on the latest Ford 427 NASCAR engine, the so called "tunnel port"). Overhead cam shafts were avoided because of the in creased bulk they would add to the top 0 the cylinder heads, and to eliminate the complications of driving overhead cams.
We were told that the displacement 0 this engine was 427 cu. in., but the bon size (4.33 in.) is not the same as the exist ing 427 (4.23 in.). The bottom end of the Calliope is based on the "385" series 0 Ford engines. The only production exam pie of this series, so far, is the new Thunderbird engine, which displaces 429 cu. in. and which has an entirely different crank shaft from the 427. This leads us to believe that, in fact, the Calliope has a 429 crank
with a stock J.59-in. stroke. The resulting bore stroke (4.33 x 3.59 in.) would give the Calliope a 423 cu. in. displacement.
In case any doubts still exist concerning the specialized nature of the Calliope engine, the monster breathes through a fuel injection system, with the manifolds and throttle bodies cast integrally with the cylinder heads-and that spells racing engine.
Ford's Can-Am hopes aren't pinned entirely on its -Engine and Foundry Division. Dubbed the G7-A (cover), Ford's Group 7 chassis is essentially a Mk. IV roadster with an all new, wind-tunnel-tested body, but has, otherwise, the same brakes and suspension that proved so successful at Sebring and Le Mans. Ford racing car designer, Roy Lunn, has torn a couple of pages from Jim Hall's notebook-not a bad man to copy, if past performance counts-and included a two-speed "automatic" transmission and a wing.
The transmission is a Hewland-like, dogclutch affair, driven through the same Falcon-based, 3-element torque convertor which has proved so successful in the Ford and Mercury drag-racing "funny" cars.
Jt isn't really an automatic because the driver- must shift the gears manually, and while he doesn't have a clutch pedal, he does have to pay attention to his revs. Thus, much of the benefit attributed to fully automatic transmissions is lost.
While the application of the wing concept to modern race car design is generally attributed to Jim Hall (Fritz von Opel used a wing on his 1928 rocket car), Lunn has gone a step further than Hall and put some dihedral (camber) in the G7-A's wings, in an effort to improve lateral stability as well as provide negative lift to the rear end. A fixed control strut supports the inner ends of both wings, while vertical struts to the center of each wing are attached-like the Chaparral's-to the suspension.
Even though the G7-A boasts the above technical credentials-certainly the most impressive of all the Can-Am series entries-some serious problems exist which could negate much of its obvious potential. First, the G7-A isn't light; at 1900 Ibs. curb weight, it's the heaviest contender in the series, by some 23 %. Unfortunately, all the horsepower in the world (and the Calliope should have at least 650, or 16% more than its next most powerful competition) isn't likely to compensate for the penalty paid in cornering performance by that extra weight. Second, Ford hasn't had sufficient time to shake the car down. Initial testing at Las Vegas in August revealed an abundance of problems. The fuel-injected Calliope engine's throttle response is poor, and the engine transferred water into the oil through suspected casting porosity holes in the black. It isn't as if these very special blocks are readily available. At present, there are two complete engines, with castings around for only three more.
To make matters worse, the wing isn't doing all the magical things for Ford that it did for Jim Hall. In fact, the G7-A went faster without the wing than with it. And, when the first testing session was over, the G7-A was still 14 seconds slower than the lap record at Vegas. It's understandable that Ford didn't bring it to Elkhart Lake for the Can-Am's opener.
In the interests of making an appearance before the 6-race Can-Am season is over, G7-A project manager Homer Perry is seriously considering installing an 875-hp, supercharged version of the 427 NASCAR mill (the Holman-Moody marine racing engine originally brainstormed by Chuck Daigh). If this happens, both the automatic transmission and the wing are likely to fall by the wayside.
HOLMAN & MOODY HONKER II
While Ford's big gun is thus effectively jammed, its secondary armament, comprised of equally unsorted machinery,
is faring little better. John Holman, one of racing's few truly successful businessmen, decided to see if he could come up with a chassis to beat the likes of Lola and McLaren, and, at the same time, develop a Ford-based racing engine that could compete with the Traco-, Bartz-, and FaIconermodified Chevy engines. If successful, these units could be added to Holman & Moody's line of "competition proven" racing gear. Realizing that it would be too expensive to build the chassis in this country, Holman contracted England's Len Bailey (who had designed the Mirage) to layout a car, and Alan Mann (former team operator for Ford) to build the chassis, and set John Wander (Holman's own right-hand man) to manage the car in the Can-Am.
Named Honker II (Honker I is Holman himself), the car arrived in Charlotte, N.C., looking like an Alfa 33's big brother, both in shape and in workmanship. But the weight (1520 Ibs. curb) was in the ball park, the suspension geometry seemed promising during preliminary testing at Goodwood, and Ford's wind tunnel indicated that the body was extremely slippery. A few spoilers were shown to be necessary-nothing extreme, but enough to lose Holman $20 on a bet he had made with a designer/driver that the car could be run as received. \
The Honker II has one chassis feature unique to sports/ racing cars. Designer Bailey, believing that a tremendous amount of air circulates within the wheel wells, placed the disc brakes inboard of the uprights (like Cooper's Formula One cars). The semi-inboard brakes necessitated moving the front springs and shocks inboard of the suspension pickups, operating through up. per control arms acting as rocker arms(again, like the F-I Cooper). The initial powerplant chosen for the Honker' was a fuel-injected (Telcalamit Jackson), 351 cu. in., cast iron V -8 based on the not-yet-production Ford engine of the same displacement. This engine is not really new, but merely a taller-block version of the old 289. Unfortunately, the 351 retains one of the less desirable features of the 289; the 4-bolt cylinder-head. pattern is conducive to head gasket failure in racing applications. The Holman/Wander cure for this is to "dry-deck" the engine (blocking up all the water passages between the head and the block, so that if any lifting of the head occurs, overheating won't be as likely to result).
Several alternate versions of this engine have been built, around such exotica as aluminum cylinder blocks, billet steel crankshafts, and Gurney-Weslake heads and in displacements ranging from 348 to 398 cu. in. The most popular size may well turn out to be 378 cu. in., which not only
seems to run well with a bore and stroke of 4.00 x 3.77, but which also falls very close to being the engine size for a 3500-lb. stock car, the minimum weight under NASCAR's 9.36 Ib./cu. in. rule. Could good 01' John Holman be planning to find two markets for his engine?
But even a month in Charlotte wasn't enough to make the Honker II competitive in the company of the field at the Can-Am opener. It had become a sanitary car but virtually untried. Mario Andretti, originally slated to drive the G7-A, tried to turn the Honker on, but could only get within 17 seconds of Bruce McLaren's record setting time of 2:12.6. The Honker II was loaded on the trailer and taken home to Charlotte before the race started.
SHELBY AMERICAN KING COBRA
The Shelby effort is in even rougher straits. Shelby's King Cobra has been suffering a series of major setbacks and failed to appear at Elkhart. Designed by Len Terry, ex-of Lotus (the Type 38 Indy car) and AAR (the Eagle), and built by Transatlantic Automotive Consultants, a new partnership between Terry, and Frank Nichols (ex-of Elva Cars), the King Cobra has a very unconventional suspension system. Both the front and rear suspension have a single transverse coil spring shared by both the right- and left-hand wheels. Since these springs don't act on the chassis itself, but only on the opposite wheels, the chassis has no built-in roll stiffness. All the roll stiffness is provided by front and rear anti-sway bars, which, by necessity, are considerably larger than they would have to be on a normally sprung car. While this approach has some merit on a car with high-pivot swing axles (in that the "jacking" tendency would be reduced), we don't understand its value on the King Cobra, which already has low roll-centers to prevent jacking. We can even see a disadvantage resulting from the use of the necessarily stiff anti-sway bars-the right hand wheels are no longer as independent of the left-hand wheels and vice versa.
More important, however, the King Cobra ran into serious trouble during its second shake-down cruise to Riverside. First, there was a problem in the engine lubrication system which delayed testing. Once that problem was fixed, engine overheating made it obvious that the horizontal
radiator designed to exhaust in what turned out to be a positive pressure area under the car-wasn't getting the job done. Work is underway to incorporate rear-mounted radiators, Chaparral style, to cure this. The final blow came when one
of the transverse springs parted company with the suspension while Jerry Titus, who is to pilot the car in the Can-Am, was hurtling through Riverside's first turn. It must have been quite a ride-certainly more exciting than the preceding laps, the best one having been a full seven seconds off the Riverside sports/ racing car record. Realizing that the car wasn't anywhere close to being ready, Shelby showed good sense in not bringing the car to Elkhart.
LOLA T70 Mk. IIIB
This leaves Dan Gurney holding the standard for Ford (or at least for modified Ford cylinder blocks), in one of the three Lola T70 Mk. IIIB chassis that were ready for the Can-Am. Running a 351 cu. in. cast iron Ford block with a steel Moldex stroker crankshaft to give 378 cu. in., and his own Gurney-Weslake cylinder heads, Dan managed to qualify his Lola for the inside of the second row. That put him behind the two incredible McLarens, but ahead of the two Chevy-powered Lola Mk. IIIBs of Mark Donohue and John Surtees. A sticking throttle began a train of events which led to Gurney's eventual retirement and the end of the only real Ford threat to the Elkhart Lake "Chevy Show."
The Lola chassis is remarkable Eric Broadley has made only relatively minor changes to his original T70 design, changes resulting from almost three years of racing development, making the Lola a truly "Competition-Proven" design. The "B"
designation refers to slightly altered rear suspension geometry, and some weight savings which are possible only in Group 7 form. (The regular Mk. III is a "convertible," able to run either as a Group 7 car or-in coupe from-as a Group 6 GT prototype.) Otherwise, the "B" is a Lola T70 Mk. III. This continuity of design has contributed to the high level of reliability reflected by Donohue's and Surtees' second and third place finishes at the Can-Am opener a race which saw less than a third of the starting field take the checkered flag in good running condition.
While the G7-A is Ford's "secret weapon," many of the concepts it embodies were first seen on secretive Jim Hall's Chaparral. Hall has made many detail changes during the year, and designates his 1967 Can-Am Chaparral the 2G. Derived largely from the 2Es that Phil Hill and Hall drove a year ago, the sole 2G (Hall is going it alone this year) retains most of the same features-the wing, the ducted front spoiler, the rear-mounted radiators, the automatic transmission, the 16-inch "spiderweb" wheels, the aluminum monocoque chassis, and the bizarre body. But the engine is new an all aluminum 427 (its origin could only be Chevrolet), with a dry sump system developed by Chaparral. The 427, biggest engine so far in the CanAm, replaces the aluminum 327 used by Hall last year in the 2Es. Fed by four
58mm Weber downdraft carburetors, the new engine is rated at a conservative 560 hp 11O hp more than a year ago.
Jim Hall is' probably the most test minded of all the Can-Am entrants. With his own private test track right behind his shop, he keeps accurate tabs on the worth of each and every innovation, using 13 photo-electric timing pickups planted at strategic points around the course. You can bet that Jim knew his new car was faster than last year's (and how much faster) before he loaded up and headed for Elkhart. It was faster, all right, even much faster, but not fast enough-the other cars were faster still. Such is progress in the Can-Am, although the fact that Hall hasn't driven since the Daytona Continental may have something to do with his qualifying 4.8 seconds off the pace.
GOODYEAR vs. FIRESTONE
Part of Jim's. problem may have been that he was running on Firestone tires, which appeared to be inferior to Goodyear's at Elkhart. While Goodyear was ready with a brand-new tire designed specifically for the Can-Am series, Firestone's equivalent is not expected to appear until Bridgehampton, or maybe as late as Mosport.
Firestone suffered a crippling 91-day strike this summer. Goodyear was also struck, but for only 14 days. John Surtees spent most of practice and qualifying trying out both brands, and even though his car was originally set up for Firestones, he wound up. racing on Goodyears. He felt that the Goodyears were good for at least a second a lap. Firestone isn't likely to let this situation persist. Tire design, an extremely competitive and rapidly changing science, lies behind many of the seemingly inexplicable performance differences between cars, and contributes to the spectacular increases in lap speeds each year.
There are a pair of long shots in the field this year that deserve mention for their novel approaches to sports/ racing car design. The Caldwell D-7 was built for Sam Posey, a USRRC contender this year in a McLaren-Ford, by Autodynamics Corp., the Formula Vee builders. Autodynamics president and chief designer, Ray Caldwell, felt that in view of the increasing width of racing tires and the resulting importance of precise camber control in suspension geometry, the simple expedient of live (or rigid) axles was the best plan. This, combined with considerable scale-model wind tunnel testing at MIT -with the assistance of a Dr. Larabee, an aerodynamics consultant retained by Autodynamics-shaped the Caldwell D-Ts homely body. While we think that rigid axles are not the best system for the fairly rough Can-Am race tracks, we admire the candid approach that these privateers have taken. Unfortunately, some severe brake and rear axle problems, which were thought to have been overcome during pre-series testing, reappeared at Elkhart and precluded a demonstration of the Caldwell's true potential.
Another unique approach to Can-Am gIory emerged from Down Under. After dominating the Australian racing scene 137 wins in 171 starts over the past three years), Frank Matich has come to the North American continent with two cars (one already sold) of his own design. The Matich SR3-Repco uses a tubular space fame reinforced with stressed aluminum panels Matich's primary aim is light weight. He furthers this goal by employing 4.4-liter version of the aluminum Repco V-8. weighing only 363 Ibs. complete with acessories. It produces over 400 hp throughout a range of 1700 rpm. With a curb weight of only 1360 Ibs., Matich's cars are indeed the lightest in the series. But his SR3-R suffered some teething problems at Elkhart-residue from the fuel bladders clogged the injection pump's. fuel filter and after that was remedied, electrical and oil cooling problems developed.
Frank Matich, like Jock Sturrock, skipper of Australia's America's Cup entry, must be a little dazzled by the competition, right now. But, while we are not too sure about what the future holds in the America's Cup competition, we wouldn't be surprised to see some really impressive Australian challenges in the Can-Am's future. Would you believe Jack Brabham?
Bruce McLaren had enough bad luck in the 1966 Can-Am to cause most men to seek communion with the devil himself. We don't think Bruce sold his soul, but we know that he went back to England with a single-mindedness toward winning in 1967. Almost immediately after Las Vegas in 1966; Bruce signed up Denis Hulme for this year's series, and set about building two brand-new cars. Switching from space frame to monocoque chassis construction, the new cars are designated McLaren M6As. He designed his own bodies, and even built his own 358 cu. in. Chevy engines. Last year, McLaren flirted with fuel injection at the Riverside Can-Am race, and found it promising but unreliable. In the interim, with the help of BRM (wizards with fuel injection) and John Willment (of J. W. Automobiles-Willment and ex-Ford team manager John Wyer-who built the Spa-winning Mirage GT prototype), McLaren developed a Lucas-based fuel injection system that appears to give his Chevys an edge on all the others.
Completing the cars early in the summer, McLaren and Hulme put over 2,009 miles on them at Goodwood, ironing out every detail. Arriving at Elkhart, they proceeded to smash all previous records, and when the smoke had cleared, they were, one-two on the grid, a tenth of a second apart and almost two seconds faster than Gurney who, in turn, was 1.3 seconds faster than fourth-fastest qualifier George Follmer (Lola-Chevy 365). In the race, Hulme led flag-to-flag, while McLaren followed on his bumper until a freak oil line fatigue failure put him out. One thing was obvious to all, however; the McLarens were ready.
And being ready (or not) will probably be the story of this year's Can-Am series. All the technically superior equipment in the world won't win this series unless it is fully sorted out-developed to give that kind of continuously reliable service associated only with the aerospace industry in the past.
Ford, on paper, has the hot set-up. Theoretically, Hall's Chaparral 427 should be faster than the McLarens, and so should Roger Penske's forthcoming Lola-Chevy 427 for Mark Donohue. The specifications of Gurney's Lola-Ford make it a potential winner. Technically, the Honker and Shelby's Cobra ought to go like blazes. But the last two didn't even run, and many of the others were ready-but not enough. With the series only one-sixth over, nobody was saying, like they do at Indy, "Wait 'til next year." There's a lot of racing left
this year. . .