For a number of reasons, the original Canadian American Challenge Cup (Can Am) series ended in 1974.
To fill this vacancy, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) premier series became the Formula 5000 Championship.
The replacement series was short-lived and only lasted two seasons.
By the end of 1976, race promoters were no longer interested in the Formula 5000 cars as they felt they were not attracting race fans.
Also, a sponsor could not be found for the series. Finally, USAC which co-sanctioned the events with the SCCA was not going to return in 1977.
As a result of these factors, SCCA decided to revive the Can Am but with rules that were not as liberal as the original series.
The new regulations allowed Formula 5000 cars to compete with sports racer bodies. Lola produced a conversion kit which transformed the Lola T-332 C to a full-bodied T-333 CS. Motors were limited to 5-liter stock block V8s or 3-liter racing engines. To fill the grids under 2-liter sports racers were eligible to participate.
The new Can Am series debuted in 1977 at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, Quebec with seventeen cars starting the race. In all, nine events were contested during the season. Patrick Tambay won the championship in a Lola T-333 CS entered by Carl Haas.
The 1978 season started in April at Road Atlanta, Georgia and ended at Riverside, California in October. There were ten races in the championship. Most of the events were contested at tracks that were on the previous year’s calendar. The exceptions – no Sears Point and the addition of Road Atlanta and Charlotte.
Round seven of the 1978 Can Am series was held at Mosport. To add excitement to the event was run as two 30-lap/75-mile sprint races. And, the addition of a pit-stop for fuel would prevent any one driver – Allan Jones – from running away with the win. As an incentive, teams could earn $10,000 in prize money for a victory in a heat race. The overall winner would be determined by the driver collecting the least amount of points after two heats. The winner would earn a point for finishing first and two for second and so on. For the spectators, it was an opportunity to see two races for the price of one.
|It was ‘all or nothing’ for Allan Jones in the first six races of the 1978 Can Am season. The driver of the No. 1 Carl Haas Lola T-333 CS won at Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio and Road America and finished second at Charlotte. But problems at Mont-Tremblant and Watkins Glen caused him to finish well down the order. At Mosport, Jones added to his championship points lead by winning both heat races.|
|Fastest of the under 2-liter cars was the No. 47 Cicale Ralt RT-1 of Anthony Cicale. Cicale successfully converted a Formula Atlantic Ralt into a competitive Can Am car. He was the highest placed two-liter car at Mosport. Cicale was in demand by CART teams as the result of his technical expertise. In 1994, he helped Mario Andretti win the CART title and the following year he worked with Jacques Villeneuve when he won the Indy 500 and Drivers Championship.|
|Al Holbert won the 1976 and 1977 IMSA Championship in a Dekon designed Chevrolet Monza. In 1978, Holbert turned his attention to the Can Am series driving a Lola T-333 CS. He had a promising first season which included five podium finishes, a win at Laguna Seca and a third in the Championship. At Mosport, Holbert was classified third after a fourth in the first heat and a third in the second.|
|The Shadow was unlike many of the other five-liter Can Am cars. Rather than a converted Formula 5000 Lola the DN10 used a Formula 1 chassis. Also, it was powered by a Dodge engine as opposed to the more popular Chevrolet. The car was raced by Jean-Pierre Jarier who had driven for the Shadow team in Formula 1. The car did not meet expectations although Jarier’s teammate, Randolph Townsend, had a season-high fourth at Mont-Tremblant.|
|Another car not based on a Lola T-332 C chassis was the Elfin MR8A-C of Vern Schuppan. Elfin has been a manufacturer of race cars since 1957. The Australian company built three Formula 5000 MR8s and Schuppan converted one of these to Can Am specifications. Based on his results in the two heat races he was classified with a sixth.|
|Elliot Forbes-Robinson was one of the drivers entered in the first ‘Second Generation’ Can Am race – 1977 at St. Jovite. In 1978, he drove the No. 3 Spyder NF-10. The Spyder was based on the Lola T-333 CS and powered by a 5-liter Chevrolet. Forbes-Robinson drove the car to victory in only its second outing at Charlotte and scored another victory at Trois-Rivieres. At Mosport, he qualified and finished fourth.|
|John Morton was entered in the No. 46 Lola T-333 CS. Morton qualified tenth but developed engine problems in both heats. A seventh place finish in heat one and a sixteen in the second resulted in a tenth place overall. Morton made his Can Am debut at the final two races of the 1977 season – earning a third at Sears Point and Riverside. Despite these promising results, the best he could do in 1978 was a fifth at Riverside.|
|One of the biggest threats to Jones’ dominance was George Follmer. Follmer won the 1972 Can Am title driving a turbocharged Porsche 917. In 1978, he was racing the Prophet for Herb Caplan. Follmer missed the first two races but appeared at Mid-Ohio and finished second. This event was followed by Mont-Tremblant which he won. At Mosport, Follmer was classified fifth after a third in the first heat and a tenth in the second.|
|1||-||Alan Jones||Lola T-333 CS||Carl A. Haas Racing||60||-|
|2||-||Warwick Brown||Lola T-333 CS||Racing Team V.D.S.||60||-|
|3||-||Al Holbert||Lola T-333 CS||Hogan Racing||60||-|
|4||-||Elliot Forbes-Robinson||Spyder NF-10||Newman Freeman Racing||60||-|
|5||-||George Follmer||Prophet||U.S. Racing||58||-|
|6||-||Vern Schuppan||Elfin MR8A||Vern Schuppan/Robert Boxx||58||-|
|7||-||Rocky Moran||Lola T-333 CS||Rocky Moran||58||-|
|8||-||Howard Kelly||Lola T-332 RNF||Nagel Racing||54||Magneto|
|9||-||Michael Allen||Lola T-333 CS||Don Weber||56||-|
|10||-||John Morton||Lola T-333 CS||John Morton||48||Engine|
|11||-||Horst Kroll||Lola T-332||Kroll's Auto Service||38||Oil Pressure|
|12||U2L||Tony Cicale||Cicale Ralt RT1||Cicale Champion Racing||56||-|
|13||-||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow DN10||Shadow Racing||36||Transmission|
|14||-||Michael Brayton||Wolf Brayton 001||Michael Brayton||56||-|
|15||-||John Gunn||Lola T-332||Gunn's Goodies||52||Transmission|
|16||-||Dean Dietrich||March 76A||Dietrich Racing||52||-|
|17||-||Alain De Cadenet||De Cadenet Lola LM||British Post Office||52||-|
|18||U2L||S. Peter Smith||Chevron B19/21||Red Roof Inns||33||Clutch|
|19||U2L||Dave Johnson||Lola T-290||PSB Speakers||41||Engine|
|20||U2L||Warren Purdy||Lola T-290||Warren Purdy||19||Ignition|
|21||U2L||Ray Petry||Chevron B21||-||26||-|
|22||U2L||E. B. Lunken||March 73S||E. B. Lunken Racing||20||Engine|
|23||-||Bill Tempero||Chevron B78C||Cloverleaf Texaco||18||Engine|
|24||-||Leonard Janke||Lola T-332||Janke Auto Co.||4||Transmission|
|25||-||David Giorgi||Lola T-160||The Winner's Circle||2||Handling|
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