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Phoenix Indycar


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#1 fines

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 20:58

I have read that the Phoenix Indy Car, used by the O'Connell and Patrick teams in 1980/1, was built in Britain. Now I believe I know pretty much every race car builder in Britain in that period, but none with the name Phoenix. :confused: Does anyone know which company built those cars?

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#2 Don Capps

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 22:40

As I try to find something more definitive on the Johnny O'Connell Phoenix, the words "tightly-budgeted" seem to get considerable use. Funny how like mention there is of its origins.... However, I'll keep looking.


Whoa -- From 1980: "The Patrick team brought a pair of their new, English-built Phoenixes to the Milwaukee mile...." Plus, Johncock put one on the pole. The car was the product of Gordon Kimble and fabricator Hal Sperb.

#3 Don Capps

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Posted 02 July 2002 - 02:44

The Phoenix was designed by Gordon Kimball who designed the Wildcat Mk 9. The Phoenix was built by Hal Sperb and probably with Alec Greaves helping. All these folks are Patrick Racing employees -- and Gordy smacked the wall with the #9 Phoenix at Indy in 1980. Hmmm, obviously I missed something here. Or I have it all wrong. :confused:

#4 fines

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Posted 02 July 2002 - 20:04

Well, it was certainly Tom Sneva who wrecked the #9 O'Connell Phoenix at Indy in 1980. Jud Phillips was unable to repair it, so Sneva had to start in his trusty old McLaren M24 backup from 33rd. He went ahead and established a new record of positions gained in an Indy 500 by finishing second, just ahead of his last row pal Gary B., who took the last finish for an Offy engine (actually a DGS) ever.

Gordon Kimball appears to be right as the designer, I have the same information. But Hal Sperb as fabricator??? Wasn't he an American? So how come the car was produced in Britain????? :confused:

#5 Gerr

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Posted 02 July 2002 - 23:07

Didn't we go through this in the "F1 cars in CART??" thread.
The Phoenix was/were fabricated by John Thompson (is TC Prototypes the company name?), designed by Kimball for Bignotti at Patrick. The Wildcat VIII was an improved version also designed by Kimball, but built in Indianapolis by Patrick Racing.

#6 Don Capps

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Posted 03 July 2002 - 00:59

Doh.... :blush:

#7 Buford

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Posted 03 July 2002 - 01:12

And do you know why they were called Wildcats?

#8 Don Capps

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Posted 03 July 2002 - 01:25

From Patrick's interests in the oil prospecting business.....

#9 fines

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Posted 03 July 2002 - 15:22

Thanx Gerr! Yes, you're right, now that you speak of it I can remember :blush:

AFAIK, a "Wildcatter" is someone who drills for oil without making geological research first? So, presumably, the Wildcat was designed without the aid of a wind tunnel... :D

#10 Allen Brown

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 13:01

Sorry to keep digging up old Indy threads but I read something on the Phoenix today in an Autosport preview of the 1980 race.

It was built in England by John Thompson, as has already been said, but the drawings came from someone at ATS. The car was a straight clone of the Williams FW07 - a better clone that the Longhorn where Zink had made the mistake of changing the Williams drawings.

Judging by Autosport news stories earlier in the year, it looks as if the Phoenix was originally built for O'Connell but Bignotti ordered a couple once the Wildcat Mk IV had proved a flop in testing. I don't think there was a designer as such - it was too close a copy of the Williams FW07 to need one. There may be confusion here as the short-lived Patrick PR1 is called a Phoenix in some stories and picture captions and it was the "Patrick" that was designed by Kimble.

These early Indy ground-effects cars are an interesting bunch:

Chaparral 2K (1979) - Barnard's Lotus 79 copy
Penske PC7 (1979) - an early attempt that took a while to get the bugs out
Penske PC9 (1980) - Geoff Ferris-designed; F1-based but not a straight copy of anything
Phoenix (1980) - unapproved Williams FW07 copy
Longhorn (1980) - approved Williams FW07 copy; flop
Wildcat Mk IV (1980) - Riley-designed flop
Patrick (1980) - Chaparral copy by Kimble (who had worked with Barnard); wrecked on 8 May
Orbitor (1980) - March-built, Barnard-designed flop
Lightning (1980) - David Burns-designed "Texaco Star"; flop in Guthrie's hands
Eagle (1980) - John Ward-designed and very different

At Indy in 1980, the fastest qualifiers were the well-sorted Chaparral, the PC9s and two private PC7s. Of the others, only the Eagle and the Phoenix worked well.

Allen

#11 gbl

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 21:40

Any chance to see a picture of that Patrick PR1, was that car #40?, never heard of it. What about the car that Gordon Smiley raced in Indianapolis (#70) - that clearly looks identical to Sneva's #9.

#12 Allen Brown

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 23:19

It's hard to figure out exactly how the cars moved around but it was something like this:

#20 when they started was the Patrick PR1 with the Wildcat as the #40. Then Bagley's Phoenix arrived and became the #40 and the Wildcat became the #70 for Smiley. Then the Patrick was written off so Johncock moved into a Penske PC6. Then something broke on the Phoenix and it was decided that Bagley should qualify the Wildcat instead. So Smiley ended up with the Phoenix. The cars had the wrong numbers on them when they were qualified and they were shuffled around between qualifying and the race so Johncock has #20 on his Penske and Bagley had #40 on his Wildcat.

At the next race, Milwaukee (R3), Johncock and Bagley has a Phoenix each and qualified very well, Johncock on pole. But then both cars were wrecked in practice at Pocono (R4) and Bagley wrecked yet another one before the race at Mid-Ohio (R5). At Michigan Harms has both drivers in Wildcat Mk IVs but I haven't had a chance to check that yet.

It interesting to look at qualifying positions through the season. Bobby Unser's Penske wins that (4 poles, 3 2nds) from Rutherford's Chaparral (3 and 3), Andretti's Penske and Unser's Longhorn (2 and 1), Johncock's Phoenix (1 pole and nothing else) and Mears' Penske (no poles but 9 times in the top 4). So maybe I was bit unfair about the Longhorn. Foyt qualified his old Parnelli second at Pocono but we shouldn't read too much into that. The Eagle qualified 4th and 5th in its two other outings; the best for the Orbitor was 6th.

Allen

#13 brickyard

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 22:15

So, how many Phoenix cars were built?

in 1980 Patrick and O'Connell run Phoenix cars

in 1981 it was Bignotti-Cotter, O'Connell and H&R Racing


and what happened to those cars?

#14 ghinzani

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 13:00

Allen I have an Autosport from just before the 81 season (I think) that said the Phoenix was 'March based' - surely a typo by Gordon Kirby, no?

#15 Allen Brown

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 13:03

I think one of the Phoenix cars was fitted with March 81C suspension - or something like that. So it became "March-based" it wasn't when it started.

#16 ghinzani

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 14:17

Aha so is that suspension from the 792 based Orbitor then? Because this was pre March 81c.

#17 Allen Brown

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 17:39

Good point. Are you sure of the date of that Autosport? Could it be the Indy 500 preview because the Phoenix-March predates the 1981 Indy.

It looks like there were three Phoenix cars in 1980: two for Patrick Racing Team (#20 Johncock North American Van Lines and #40 Bagley Kent Oil) and another for Jerry O'Connell (#9 Sneva Sugaripe Prune).

The Phoenix-March appears at Indy 1981 for the Bignotti-Cotter team (#2T Sneva again but not the same team/car). Sneva's 1980 car is driven by Kevin Cogan in 1981 and then moves to Bettenhausen's Provimi Veal team.

#18 malvi

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 22:19

Originally posted by ghinzani
Aha so is that suspension from the 792 based Orbitor then? Because this was pre March 81c.


Good point really - George Bignotti worked for Sherman Armstrong in the latter part of 1980 season as troubleshooter for problematical Orbitors, after he was fired by Pat Patrick in August. He also visited March factory in England and in January 1981 he confirmed that Chicago industrialist Dan Cotter would be backing his new March equipped Indycar team.

And yes, there is no mark that more than 3 Phoenix cars were built: 1 for O`Connell and 2 for Patrick.

#19 ghinzani

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 23:41

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Good point. Are you sure of the date of that Autosport? Could it be the Indy 500 preview because the Phoenix-March predates the 1981 Indy.

I.


I am pretty sure because I am only mid-way through April 81 re-reading my collection. I think it was the season or Phoenix preview.

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#20 ghinzani

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 22:55

autosport may 7th 1981, page 6, "Bignotti was excited his new March 81c had arrived.. Although Sneva not expected to run it.. Preferring to sort out his Phoenix with March suspension"

#21 markthompson

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:36

I have read that the Phoenix Indy Car, used by the O'Connell and Patrick teams in 1980/1, was built in Britain. Now I believe I know pretty much every race car builder in Britain in that period, but none with the name Phoenix. :confused: Does anyone know which company built those cars?


The Phoenix racing car was produced by John Thompson and his company T C Prototypes from his premises in Wollaston.

John did quite a bit of work with Patrick Racing

#22 Allen Brown

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 09:35

The Phoenix racing car was produced by John Thompson and his company T C Prototypes from his premises in Wollaston.

John did quite a bit of work with Patrick Racing


Who designed the car Mark?