There can be no denying that each issue of Vintage Motorsport will have nostalgia as its main pillars: we love to celebrate, relive and reassess narratives that perhaps can only be fully appreciated through the distance of time. But after commissioning the stories for the October-November issue, we noticed many of them were bound together by an element of ruefulness, and that emanates from the readers and/or those involved.
Naturally we couldn’t bring ourselves to call this The Rueful Issue, so Power and Glory it is. But our cover star, Brian Redman’s Formula 5000 Lola T332, does rather symbolize this dual theme – a powerful and glorious road-racing open-wheel formula that didn’t receive the attention it deserved and so was transformed into an uglier version. The “overnight” switch to a revived Can-Am series seems even more misguided now than it did at the time, for while this new-old series still featured fast, loud, good-value cars and a paddock full of engineering and driving talent, it was no better promoted than before, the cars looked contrived with their unnecessary new bodywork, and the formation of CART a couple of years later swiftly proved that U.S. motorsport fans appreciated powerful open-wheel cars on road courses.
Our story tracing Formula 5000’s arc through its mid-’70s zenith, and another about the current F5000 Register’s burgeoning numbers, suggests that the SCCA governors who decided to replace the series were flawed in their data, instincts or judgment.
Not that CART took long to display its inner frictions, reminding us that democracies in motorsport only work if governed by a strong leader. Such a figure might have prevented rival Indy car team owners from suppressing Porsche’s engineering in the 1989/’90 off-season. Instead, the company’s changing management, already questioning involvement with Indy cars, grew thoroughly disenchanted and within a few months elected to kill the program. Reliving this short chapter in Indy car history – including a highly promising 1989 season – with team manager Derrick Walker, driver Teo Fabi and March-Porsche co-designer Tino Belli, prompts yet more regret.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the great Bobby Allison while reflecting on his career when he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. As one of few stock car legends who deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Richard Petty, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt, Allison’s championship tally – one – woefully undervalues his abilities. Yet it does convey his restlessness, his need to leave one green pasture to find another even greener. That this meant departing Junior Johnson’s hugely successful outfit is what caused Allison’s self-chastisement, so it’s a pleasure to recount the tale of how this three-time Daytona 500 winner finally added a championship to his résumé.
While Mario Andretti’s Formula 1 championship season of 1978 has been described both well and often in the past, we felt it was time to explain the hard work that went into that successful quest by telling the story of his ’76 and ’77 seasons. For very different reasons, Andretti and Lotus founder Colin Chapman were going through career lows when they got their act together in the spring of ’76, yet they inspired each other, drew the best from one another. The doleful pang in this tale is how Andretti truly deserved the title a year earlier than he won it…
There’s nothing to regret about the Porsche 962, and it’s a delight to have its classic shape adorning our pages this month, 30 years after its final win in IMSA competition. Some racecars achieve greatness by domination, some by longevity: the 962 is one of those rare beasts that earns its place in the pantheon by possessing both qualities. The story in this issue explains how Porsche’s IMSA teams kept its car on the frontline in the second half of its decade-long career as it faced new and strong opposition from Jaguar, Nissan, Toyota and Intrepid.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is of course the cornerstone of our historic racing coverage in this issue, but there was also plenty to be enjoyed at the Goodwood Revival and Lime Rock Park’s Historic Festival. RMMR also saw the subject of our restoration feature – the Protofab Corvette – play a starring role.
The October/November issue of Vintage Motorsport is now mailing to subscribers and already available to read in digital format. We hope you enjoy it. And if you’re not a subscriber, you can go to VintageMotorsport.com/Subscribe or call (877) 425-4103. Single copies can be purchased at our online store HERE. And Vintage Motorsport magazine is also available at Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide.