The 1981 Can Am season consisted of ten races. The series visited many of the traditional road courses such as Mosport, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Road America, Riverside, Laguna Seca and Edmonton. Also included was a street race at Trois Rivieres and for the first time an event in the parking lot at Caesars Palace. The opening round was held in June at Mosport the first of two races held at this track in 1981. Teo Fabi won the race in a March 817 entered by Paul Newman. Finishing second and third in Lola T-530s were Geoff Brabham and Danny Sullivan. Capturing the under 2-litre category was Richard Guider in a converted March called a Marguey.

The second event at Mosport was held on a warm and sunny day in September. Fabi scored another win at Mosport which added to his 1981 series total of four victories. But it was Geoff Brabham who captured the championship win two wins and consistency - finishing out of the top three only twice. The under 2-litre title went to Jim Truman in a Ralt RT-2.

The drivers come through Mosport's final turn in anticipation of the starter's flag. On the pole is eventual winner Teo Fabi in a March 817. Beside him is his teammate Bobby Rahal who finished second. The second seat on Paul Newman's team originally belonged to Al Unser. Rahal replaced Unser at the second Mosport race and joined the team for the remainder of the season.
Geoff Brabham started the 1981 with the popular Lola T-530. By the fifth round at Edmonton, the van der Straten team entered their new VDS 001. The car was based on a T-530 with modifications to the bodywork and suspension. It proved successful in its debut qualifying and finishing first. At the second Mosport race, Brabham qualified and finished third.
Danny Sullivan began racing for the Garvin Brown Can Am team in 1980. They began the 1980 season using an Intrepid GB1 but it was replaced mid-season with a Lola T-530. Sullivan renewed his contract with the team for 1981. He would win the final round at Caesars Palace in a Frissbee and finish fourth in the 1981 championship.
Paul Macey was a local racer who began his career at Mosport driving a Hawke MK21 Formula Ford. Mosport was only his second Can Am event - he entered Watkins Glen but did not finish in his Lola T-294. Macey inherited the under 2-litre class lead and win at Mosport when Jim Trueman experienced suspension troubles.
The rebirth of 1977 Can Am series did not allow for the innovation that was present in the original series. The Sports Car Club of America placed a restriction on engine displacement but encouraged the use of three-litre Formula 1 engines. The popular choice was the five-litre Chevrolet engine originally used in the defunct Formula 5000 series.
Qualifying second in the under 2-liter class at Mosport was Tim Evans in a Cicale bodied Ralt RT-1. Evans finished fourth in class behind Paul Macey, John Graham and Jim Trueman.
This Chevron B36 was driven by Dick Leppla. He entered the Mid-Ohio event and finished fifth in the under 2-litre class. Unfortunately, he was unable to start the Mosport race.
The Can Am's second generation was dominated by the Carl Haas entered Lolas. In fact, the team had won 23 of the 39 races held since 1977. The Haas team captured championships with Alan Jones, Jacky Ickx and two with Patrick Tambay. Unfortunately, in 1981, this streak would come to an end with Jeff Wood. At Mosport Wood finished eighth as the result of a flat tire.
Since 1979 Al Hobert had competed in the series with cars of his own design. For 1981, he built a new car called a CRC-2 which was sponsored by CRC Chemicals. Holbert scored wins at Watkins Glen, Trois Rivieres and Riverside and finished third in the final standings. At Mosport, he retired after one lap with engine problems.
Former Formula Atlantic standout Tom Klauser replaced David Kennedy in Herb Kaplan's U.S. Racing Frissbee at Trois Rivieres. Klauser's Can Am career began with the rebirth of the series in 1977 - he raced the Schkee and won the first event at St. Jovite.

POS.CLASSDRIVERCARENTRANTLAPSRETIREMENTS
1-Teo FabiMarch 817Paul Newman/Budweiser60-
2-Bobby RahalMarch 817Paul Newman/Budweiser60-
3-Geoff BrabhamVDS 001VDS Racing Team60-
4-Tom KlauslerFrissbee KR2U.S. Racing58-
5U2LPaul MaceyLola T-294GPS Racing52-
6U2LJohn GrahamChevron B21Midland Racing51-
7-Danny SullivanLola T-530Garvin Brown Racing50Transmission
8-Jeff WoodLola T-530Carl Haas/Magicolor Paint49Tire
9U2LJim TruemanCicale Ralt RT-2Red Roof Inns49Suspension
10-Danny JohnsonChevron B24Johnson Comp Ent49Suspension
11U2LTim EvansCicale Ralt RT-1Red Roof Inns48-
12-Mike FreebergLola T-332Kroll Racing38Engine
13U2LBob RoyMarch 744Copes Plus34-
14U2LGreg SorrentinoMarch 79S-31-
15-Al HolbertCAC-2CRC Chemicals1Engine
16U2LMichael PrevostLola T-212-1Engine
DNS-Horst KrollLola T-332Kroll Racing0-
DNSU2LDick LepplaChevron B36Crane & Shovel Sales0-
DNSU2LRoman PechmannLola T-290Pechman Racing0-


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