Grand Prix cars are considered to be the fastest way around a racing circuit. Although this is generally true, history shows us that there have been occasions where this might not have been the case.
One such era was that of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, or Can-Am for short. The cars were heavier, but thanks to simple, fuel-injected American V8s (usually Chevrolets) with massive capacities they had more than enough power to compensate. With a contemporary Grand Prix driver in the seat it was said that these cars could match the pace of their lighter and more highly-strung F1 counterparts. Perhaps even surpass them…
Today’s celebration of the 2015 Festival of Speed theme looks at a relatively early Can-Am race from the superb Elkhart Lake circuit (aka Road America) and features an outstanding line-up of drivers: Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, John Surtees, Mike Spence and Chris Amon from the world of F1 went wheel-to-wheel with well-fancied Americans like Mark Donohue, Jim Hall and George Follmer. The racing and the spectacle was often first class.
The Can-Am series began in 1966, and might have continued for many years had Porsche not entered the fray. With the help of Mark Donohue, the German manufacturer developed the awe-inspiring Porsche 917-30, which swept all before it in 1973, rendering every other car utterly obsolete. As such, the series had no future and we are left today with footage like this to remind us of the very best of Can-Am.