Story and photos by Simon Wright
The Masters Racing Series already caters for Formula 1, Sports cars, and Classic saloons. In connection with their Masters Historic Race Day, held August 23rd, 2009 at Donington Park in England, they can now claim a race for Can-Am cars as well.
In the 1970’s the Interserie was run for Can-Am cars across Europe. In 2009 The Master Series organised an Interserie revival race to see if there was any interest for owners of these fabulous Can-Am cars to still race them. A reasonable entry was received, with numbers being made up with Proto 70’s sports cars and Touring cars also from the 70’s. The highlight for the fans was three McLaren M8’s along with a March 717 and a Lola T163 Spyder.
Richard Piper’s 1971 8.8 litre McLaren M8F and Frank Bradley in his 1971 8.8 litre March 717 shared the front row for the rolling start round the tight Donington Park circuit. However, from the start they were both upstaged by Richard Evans in his nimble 1971 2 litre Chevron B19 who snatched the lead round the tricky bends and managed to keep both Can-Am cars at bay for the first few laps.
Honour was soon restored as first Bradley powered his March past the Chevron interloper down the main Dunlop straight to gain the lead, soon to be followed by Piper in his glorious orange gulf McLaren, using the power of his Chevrolet engine to gain second place. We then enjoyed several laps of fantastic battle between the March and McLaren as they diced for the lead. Piper got his McLaren M8F in front, then Bradley lost his March at Coppice and spun out, losing lots of time before managing to continue.
Now Michiel Campagne took up the challenge in his black McLaren M8F, leading for a while during the pit stop period. After all the stops though, it was Piper back in front to take the win, completing 33 laps during the 40 minute race. Campagne finished second to make it a McLaren 1-2 finish.
Third and fourth places were the subject of a race long battle between the little 2 litre Chevron B19 of Richard Evans, and the later 1975 model 2 litre Chevron B31 of Steve Hodges. Mark Williams brought his 2 litre Vogue home in fifth place ahead of George Douglas in his 2 litre Martin BM9. Frank Bradley finally finished seventh in his March 717, five laps down on the winner. Stephen Minoprio finished eighth in his immaculate McLaren M8E having driven a steady race, while Mike Wrigley was the last classified finisher, winning the Touring 70’s class in his 1978 Ford Capri.
The only other original Can-Am car was Richard Dodkins, who retired his 7 litre high-winged Lola T163 Spyder after 9 laps.
The fans had enjoyed a good race, with the rumble of the big Chevrolet engines adding to the atmosphere. Let us hope the Masters Series can organise more events like this for the fans of big sports cars in Europe.
Interseries Revival Results and Photo Gallery (photo credit: Simon Wright)
1. Richard Piper, McLaren M8F 33 laps 40 minutes 07.373 seconds
2. Michiel Campagne, McLaren M8F 33 laps 40 minutes 10.667seconds
3. Richards Evans, Chevron B19 33 laps 40 minutes 13.479seconds
4. Steve Hodges, Chevron B31 32 laps 40 minutes 14.176 seconds
5. Mark Williams, Vogue SP2 32 laps
6. George Douglas, Martin BM9 29 laps
Fastest Lap: Richard Piper, McLaren M8F 1 minute 07.878 seconds 103.80mph
To see more of Simon Wright’s photos, visit simonwrightphotos.com.