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Motorsport Retro : Blogs

Motorsport Retro is a celebration of Motorsport.

We are certifiably motorsport obsessed and love racing past and present. Much like the great print magazines of years past we try to find stories, perspectives, images and insights that go beyond the simple results, trophies, crashes and controversy.

Our content is sourced from established writers across the world, our images secured from some of the greatest archives. We seek out stories behind clips we embed and interview characters with unique access and anecdotes from years ago.

Everything on the site is here because we love it. We are all infected by the motorsport disease and petrol (and increasingly diesel and even electricity) runs in our blood. We love the sounds, the smell, the speed. We share a passion for those special motorsport moments, the glorious hand built machines and the gutsy riders and drivers that defined motorsport history, near and far.

Most importantly, we hope you find something that stops you in your tracks, entertains you, informs or reminds you and that you join us each day for a few moments celebration of motorsport.

The Inside Line: Can-Am Shadow DN4
Author : Andy Hallbery

Why were Can-Am cars monsters? Because there were very, very few rules and regulations, especially concerning engines. The 1974 season was effectively the last of the true Can-Am, as by then costs (and speeds) had spiralled, so for that season rules were written, and that was the beginning of the end. Over the years it had attracted cars built by McLaren, Lola, Penske, Porsche, Chaparral and drivers such as Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jody Scheckter and many more ‘star names’ and champions from America and Europe.

In 1974, the championship’s swansong, Shadow’s Can-Am car was this beautiful DN4. Pete Lyons is the Can-Am authority, the former Autosport Grand Prix reporter in the early ’70s, contributor to Autoweek, RACER and among many other publications worldwide, and is now a respected author, including the award winning ‘Can-Am Cars in Detail’. Lyons talked MotorSportRetro.com through the Shadow.

“The 1974 DN4, is an excellent design by Britain’s Tony Southgate,” explains Lyons. “It was run by a thoroughly professional team under Shadow owner, America’s Don Nichols and managed by Mike Hillman, driven by two hard competitors: Brit Jackie Oliver and George Follmer – a Yank, who was 1972 Can-Am champion with Penske’s Porsche.”

The Shadow dominated that year’s otherwise sadly emasculated Can-Am series which was ended mid-season through lack of interest combined with the oil crisis after five races of the eight scheduled.
“Oliver won the first four races in a row and was declared champion, although he was always fighting a hard-charging Follmer – at least once they nearly came to blows in the pits,” Pete continues, and his passion for what was a once-great series shines through: “The car was built small and light around smaller fuel tanks – because of fuel capacity reductions introduced to handicap the turbo-Porsches; it worked, Porsche abandoned the series.” Before adding “take that you stupid rule-writers.

“The fuel allowance became 37 U.S. gallons in 1974,” he continues “down from the previously unrestricted capacities in the 60s and 70s – the 1973 Porsche could carry a dizzying 106 gallons…
“The Shadow’s Reynolds-block big Chevy engines – tuned by ex-McLaren engine builder Lee Muir – displaced 495 cubic inches and made about 735hp officially, but were thought to pump out closer to 800.
“The DN4 used some suspension parts from the contemporary Southgate-designed Formula 1 Shadow DN3. Follmer has often said this was a very good race car, nimble and responsive. Its front wheels were 13 inches diameter versus 15ins that were more common in that period, while the rears were still 15ins. It used a Hewland 4-speed transaxle, and the brakes were inboard at rear.”

What is clear talking to Pete Lyons for this story, and seeing his many books on the subject, the California-based writer and photographer has a passion for the Can-Am series that is deep in his heart.

Alex Zanardi: Don’t Dream It’s Over: Part One
Author : Andy Hallbery

If this story were a Hollywood film screenplay, the film would win many Oscars. Amazingly it is a true story, about a person that has such an incredible and positive outlook on life that it’s almost impossible to believe. “Inspiration” is an over-used word in life, but Alex Zanardi is, without doubt, an inspiration.

But be warned, don’t tell Alex Zanardi he is an inspiration – he can’t see it. “I’m not an inspiration, I’m the same strong Alex Zanardi I ever was.” Then he adds with his trademark smile: “I’m just a little bit lighter!”
That quote just sums the Italian up, pure and simple. By all reasoning he should have died in September 2001 when he had his sickening crash while in the lead at the Lausitzring that cost him both of his legs. Doctors Steve Olvey and Terry Trammell – absolute experts in their field – arrived at the scene 20 seconds after the impact. Trammell slipped over on what he thought was oil. It wasn’t. It was blood. They reckoned that the speed Alex was losing blood he had three minutes to live.

Roughly made tourniquets from the CART Safety Team helped quickly, a belt from one of the team wrapped around one of Alex’s legs (or what was left of it) bought them precious time.

Olvey and Trammell decided quickly to bypass the circuit medical centre, and helicoptered their patient directly straight to a trauma centre in Berlin, both fearing that he would still never survive the 40 minute flight.
Olvey, who has treated many, many drivers in his time said “It was devastating. It was like a bomb had gone off.”

“I don’t – or didn’t – remember the accident,” says Zanardi now. “It was only when I went there again things came back. Maybe it’s good that I don’t remember. My heart stopped seven times that day, I had 75 percent blood loss. I had less than one litre of blood left in my body. The only thing my heart was pumping was plasma and fresh air!”

Alex, fighting for his life, was surrounded by family and fellow drivers, who followed in a second helicopter, and stayed with him throughout the crucial days in the trauma centre.

Talk to Alex now, and it’s almost like he only had just a splinter in his thumb. He will take every opportunity to make you feel at ease with him. I interviewed him in 2002, just months after the devastating crash and felt so awkward that I didn’t know what to say. Alex realising this, ended up interviewing himself.

“There are benefits you know,” he said. “First, I can still hold my son. Second I am alive, and third I can adjust my new legs to get the optimum height to play pool….”

Colin McRae’s WRC breakthrough: New Zealand 1993
Author : Henry Hope-Frost

While the current stars of the World Rally Championship strut their stuff on the other side of the world in Rally New Zealand, cast your mind back almost 20 years to the 1993 event.

The eighth round of the 13-round ’93 series was one of the most significant events in the then-20-year history of rallying’s top flight. Not only did the Kiwi classic mark the breakthrough victory for Japanese marque Subaru, it also signalled the arrival into the winner’s circle of 25-year-old Scot Colin McRae.

The McRae/Subaru partnership quite rightly resonates among rally fans the world over, thanks to their 16 wins and 1995 world title together, but it was that maiden victory Down Under that kickstarted the McRae phenomenon. After all, British fans had had to wait 17 years for someone to come along and add to Roger Clark’s sole WRC win on the 1976 RAC Rally.

Starting on McRae’s 25th birthday, Thursday Aug 5, the 1993 Rothmans Rally of New Zealand’s 75 entries faced 36 stages over the four days and McRae, who took the lead a third of the way through the event, would be fastest on seven of them, including the fearsome 44.8-kilometre Motu stage.

t was enough for McRae and co-driver Derek Ringer and the #7 Prodrive-run Subaru Legacy RS to hold off the best that Ford (Francois Delecour) and Toyota (Didier Auriol) could throw at them.

McRae admitted after sealing his place in WRC history: “I was very tense at first while we tried to find the right pace. But we knew we had won on the second last stage and we were able to relax a bit from then. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the result is a great relief to me and the team.”

For the crack British Prodrive team, run by 1981 world rally co-driver champion David Richards, success for the Legacy meant that attention could turn to its replacement, the lighter, smaller and faster Impreza. The directive from on high that the Legacy must win before energy was expended on the Impreza had been adhered to.

For the next round in Finland, Ari Vatanen, the man for whom Richards had co-driven to the title back in ’81, brought the Impreza home in second place first time out. It was a portent of what was to come.

McRae, meanwhile, would contest one more rally in the Legacy, in Australia (he finished sixth), before getting his hands on the Impreza for his home event, the RAC.

And then there was no stopping him…


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Sources : Motorsport Retro Photo | Motorsport Retro  About | Can-Am Shadow DN4 Photo | Can-Am Shadow DN4 Article | Alex Zanardi: Don’t Dream It’s Over: Part One Photo | Alex Zanardi: Don’t Dream It’s Over: Part One Article | Colin McRae’s WRC breakthrough  Photo | Colin McRae’s WRC breakthrough Article

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