For many 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 that transformed the Lola T-332C to a full-bodied T-333CS. 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-333CS entered by Carl Haas.
In 1979, the Sports Car Club of America signed First National City Travelers Checks as the title sponsor. To entice teams to join the series, a prize fund was set at $1,000,000.
The first round of the season was held on the first weekend of May at Road Atlanta. Two weeks later, the series competed at Charlotte Motors Speedway. Then teams travelled north of the border for an event at Mosport Park. Following Mosport, the championship returned to the United States for races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Watkins Glen International, Road America and Brainerd. On the Labour Day weekend, the series returns to Canada to compete on the temporary street course at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The penultimate round takes place at Laguna Seca, with the finale at Riverside.
Round three of the 1979 Can Am season was held at Mosport Park. Drivers would compete in a sixty-lap contest around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.
|Although he only qualified fourth fastest, a quick pitstop and well-prepared car gave Jackie Ickx his second victory of the year. Finishing in the runner-up spot was Elliot Forbes-Robinson driving the No. 4 Spyder NF-11. Forbes-Robinson started on the outside of the front row and led the race when his teammate, Keke Rosberg, encountered issues. A bad shock-absorber prevented Forbes-Robinson from challenging Ickx.|
|Finishing third was Geoff Lees in the Team VDS Lola T333CS. Team owner Count Van Der Straaten’s drivers were successful in the F5000 and Can Am series. Last year, Warwick Brown finished second in the title chase. Lees had an equally impressive record which included stints in F2 and 3. He qualified seventh fastest at Mosport. During the race, Lees benefitted from the issues encountered by his competition.|
|Mosport was the first race back for the 1972 Trans Am and Can Am champion George Follmer. Follmer suffered a broken ankle and two vertebrae when the throttle stuck wide open on his Prophet at Laguna Seca. Herb Caplan’s US Racing built a new Prophet for the 1979 season. Follmer was fifth fastest during the qualifying session; similar to Lees, he was able to gain positions through the retirements of others.|
|Al Holbert, the 1976 and 1977 IMSA Camel GT champion, joined the Can Am series last year. Driving a Lola T-333CS, he finished third in the championship. This season Holbert returned with Carl Hogan Racing to compete in the Hogan HR-001 designed by Lee Dykstra. Dykstra’s Can Am creation is one of the first to use ground effects. Holbert started round three in the third position, but at the checkered flag, he was in fifth place.|
|Tony Cicale had two under two-liter categories victories in as many starts and was the favourite to win the class championship. Battling for second were Tim Evans and Gary Gove. At Mosport, Cicale was eliminated in a practice crash which meant the class honours would be decided between Evans, Gove and S. Peter Smith. Evans and Gove pulled away, with Gove driving the No. 52 Chevron B26 finishing second.|
|Round one at Road Atlanta was won by Keke Rosberg in the No. 5 Newman Freeman Racing Spyder NF-11. In race two, Rosberg qualified on the pole but finished a lap down to the leaders in third place. At Mosport, he was spectacular in qualifying. Rosberg shattered the lap records of Mark Donohue (Can Am) and Mario Andretti (Formula 1). However, in an effort to catch the leaders, after a stop for a flat tire stop, he crashed.|
|1||-||Jacky Ickx||Lola T-333CS||Carl A. Haas Racing Team||60||-|
|2||-||Elliot Forbes-Robinson||Spyder NF-11||Newman-Freeman Racing||60||-|
|3||-||Geoff Lees||Lola T-333CS||Racing Team VDS||60||-|
|4||-||George Follmer||Prophet||U.S. Racing||59||-|
|5||-||Al Holbert||Hogan HR-001||Hogan Racing||57||-|
|6||-||Horst Kroll||Lola T332||Horst Kroll Racing||56||-|
|7||U2L||Tim Evans||Lola T-290||Diversified Engineering Services||55||-|
|8||U2L||Gary Gove||Chevron B26||Pete Lovely VW||55||-|
|9||-||Howard Kelly||Lola T-332||Nagel Racing Enterprises||54||-|
|10||-||Randy Lewis||Lola T-332||Randy Lewis||48||-|
|11||-||Bill Tempero||Lola T-332C||Bill Tempero Racing||47||Accident|
|12||U2L||E. B. Lunken||March 73S||E. B. Lunken Engineering||30||Black Flag|
|13||-||Keke Rosberg||Spyder NF-11||Newman-Freeman Racing||28||Accident|
|14||-||Randolph Townsend||Spyder NF-11||Newman-Freeman Racing||25||Accident|
|15||-||Gary Hirsch||Porsche 908||R&H Racing||21||-|
|16||U2L||S. Peter Smith||Bobsy 2-L||Red Roof Inns||4||Engine|
|17||-||Duane Eitel||Chevron B28||Eitel-Kehr Racing||3||Engine|
|18||-||John McCormack||McLaren M23||John McCormack||2||Engine|
|19||-||Bob Brown||Lola T-333CS||Bobby Brown Racing||1||Engine|
|-||-||Rocky Moran||Lola T-333||American Spirit Racing||-||Did Not Start|
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