the can-am years
DRivERs DEnny hulmE, pEtER REvson
Wins 2 (both hulmE)
Ch’ship positions hulmE 2nD; REvson 6th
• Outspent and “out-teched” by Porsche’s Penske-run turbo
917/10K, McLaren launched its own turbo program, but never
raced it, sticking with the 8.1-liter, naturally-aspirated Chevy
V8 (as well as dabbling with a 9.26-liter, near-790hp version).
• Radiators were hip-mounted, allowing a large front wing to
be added, and “Batmobile” bodywork was further refined.
For McLaren manager Teddy Mayer,
aware of a general loss of interest in the
sagging Can-Am, purse monies from two
lucky wins couldn’t balance the books.
Racers hate to give up, and the team
tried turbocharging its giant Chevys, but
1973 looked like a long, hard road away.
When Mayer pointed out that the
projected 1,200hp engine would demand
a much stronger transaxle, for which
there was no funding, the deflation was
complete. McLaren quit the Can-Am.
The series itself didn’t last through 1974.
What if Bruce Leslie McLaren had still
been there? Gifted, buoyant, a natural
leader, could he have inspired a Kiwi
comeback? Could that have saved the
Can-Am? History cannot tell us.
In an ignominious
footnote to the
stillborn plan to run a
turbocharged M20 in
1973, Mario Andretti
drove such a car at
three Can-Am races
that year – albeit a
example with a turbo
added to the Chevy
Although he put it
on the grid at Road
Seca and Riverside
was the better part
of valor and chose
to DNS at all three.
“That car had
more power than
God!” he recalled.
“But it was actually
scary to drive. It
could lift the front
wheels in any gear.”