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Danny Ongias to race in Grand Am!


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#1 Todd

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 04:48

With thanks to indycarjunkie, who posted this news in Readers Comments, I thought I would pass on the good news to the Nostalgia bunch.

http://www.speedtv.c...&cat=23&id=3988

Danny Ongias will race in the Grand Am finale at Daytona, November 8-10. He is now 60 years old, and I'm sure many of you remember his explosive exploits at Indy and in Porsche 935s. He also once finished 7th in the 1977 Canadian GP, driving a Penske Ford. If he'd only had a real shot, he would have made Gilles Villeneuve look like the slow, cautious sort.

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 04:49

Originally posted by Todd
.....If he'd only had a real shot, he would have made Gilles Villeneuve look like the slow, cautious sort.


High praise indeed...

I seem to recall some horrifying pics of an Indy crash?

#3 Todd

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 04:55

Originally posted by Ray Bell
High praise indeed...

I seem to recall some horrifying pics of an Indy crash?


Yeah. I think he has only been waiting for his bones to knit so that he could make this comeback. His knicknames were the Flyin Hawain and Danny On-the-gas. I think the first one dates back to his days drag racing motorcycles. He had no self preservation instinct what so ever, and it made other drivers uncomfortable. Still, he won a 24 hour race, so he must have been able to string together the odd lap before physics overcame his courage.

#4 Allen Brown

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 11:36

If he's 60 now, he didn't get involved in circuit racing until his early 30s. He raced an old Lola T300 in F5000 in 1974, then, after destroying Eddy O'Brien's Lola T332, he joined the Interscope team in 1975, showing promise but being hampered by their dodgy Lola T400 for much of the season. In 1976 he had a pair of the latest spec Lola T332Cs and was suddenly one of the quickest men in the series. He had two or three pretty major crashes that year.

Interscope then merged with Vels Parnelli Jones which got Ongais into USAC racing with the Cosworth DFX VPJ6-series cars. I guess somebody else can pick up the story from there on.

And what was he doing in his 20s? I'm told drag racing but does anyone have any details?

Allen

#5 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 13:02

Yes, Danny was involved in Dragracing during the 1960s and well into the 1970s. But he actually started his career on bikes.

My story below on Ongais from : http://www.8w.forix.com/ongais.html


This versatile American with the unusual last name hails from the paradise islands of Hawaii. More often his name was referred to as 'On-Gas' because of his charging driving style.

He also had a rather unusual path to Grand Prix racing. Danny started his motorsports career riding motorcycles. In 1960 he took the Hawaiian Motorcycle Championship, then turning his attention to drag racing, spending the rest of the decade collecting several NHRA US National titles. In 1965 Danny became the first driver to exceed 200mph on a European track (here you see him burn rubber at Carlsbad in 1965). He took his last US National Funny Car title in 1969. He also has the honour of being granted the NHRA Drag Racing Licence #1 in 1964. He continued in drag racing into the early seventies, but by 1974 he had taken to circuit racing and from 15 starts notched up 12 wins in the SCCA Road Racing Series.

Entrepreneur Ted Field, boss of the Interscope company, noted his skills and wanted Danny to race for him in F5000. So the following two years were spent in F5000 and in 1976 Ongais earned a 5th place in the final standings. At the late age of 35 Danny's single-seater was suddenly blooming, even continuing into America's top category. In 1977 Danny Ongais was put in a Interscope-backed Parnelli ChampCar by his teamboss Ted Field. For a debuting thirty-something Ongais ran extremely well in his rookie year: at the 1977 Indy 500 he retired after 90 laps but later won the Michigan 200.

Still in the same season ambitions rose even higher, Ted Field also wanting to do Formula 1. So Field went shopping and bought a Penske PC4 for Danny to drive. Ongais made his GP debut late in the 1977 season in his home race at Watkins Glen, alas retiring early on, but in the following race at Mosport he finished a fine 7th. Through this result Field and Ongais got the taste for more. In 1978 the team started the first two races in an old Ensign before Field acquired more up-to-date machinery. Unfortunately the Shadow DN9 wasn't a very developed car and here we see Danny struggling to prequalify the car. Despite his usual hard charging he was unable to get the car up to speed. His brief GP career was over almost as quick as it had started and it ended after a final attempt mid-season at Zandvoort.

Now he was back in ChampCar racing with the occasional outing in the IMSA sportscar series as well. He won a ChampCar race at Mosport in 1978 and in 1979 won the Daytona 24 hour race together with Interscope boss Ted Field and Hurley Haywood in a Porsche 935. He also finished 4th at Indy in a Parnelli VPJ6.

For 1980 Field boldly decided to go with a self-designed chassis. Ongais was to have driven the Porsche flat-6 single-turbo powered Interscope at Indy but Porsche withdrew because the car was not fast enough. The following year Ongais raced the striking "Batmobile" look-alike Interscope with Cosworth DFX power but he nearly lost his life when the suspension broke and he had one of the most destructive crashes ever seen at Indy. Danny was in critical condition and remained in intensive care for over a week. Amazingly he was back behind the wheel of a new Interscope 03 in 1982.

Danny was also racing at Le Mans during the same period. In 1980 he was in a Porsche 935K3 with Ted Field and Jean-Louis Lafosse, of course with Interscope sponsorship seen on the car. In 1982 was behind the wheel of a Kremer Porsche CK5, again driving with Ted Field, this time with Bill Whittington as third driver. These two outings didn't bring any success. He also occasionally sat in a 962 during the mid 1980s. Here we see him at the Czech Most track in 1986.

He continued to drive at Indy during 1983-87 but without much success. In 1987 he did what everyone thought was his final Indy 500 but he crashed while practising his Penske PC16-Chevy. Ongais suffered a concussion and was declared medically unfit to drive for the remainder of the month. Most observers thought he was out of racing for good. However, in 1988 Ongais was back at Le Mans this time driving for the Japanese Cabin Team Le Mans, driving a Nissan R88S together with Michel Trollé and Toshio Suzuki. Again, this outing finished with a retirement.

Then with a gap of eight years, Danny was surprisingly asked to come back from retirement at the grand old age of 54, to drive at Indy for the Menard team. It happened under under tragic circumstances: pole man Scott Brayton had crashed fatally during post-qualifying practice and Danny was asked by team owner John Menard to fill in for poor Brayton. Due to the driver change Danny started from last position on the grid in the car Brayton had already qualified. This is allowed under the peculiar rules used at Indy.

The ageing Hawaiian didn't disgrace himself. Far from it in fact! He finished in a creditable 7th place running only 3 laps behind the winner. This must have been like drinking from the fountain of eternal youth, for in 1998 he was back behind the wheel of an IRL Dallara-Aurora IR7 and running 215mph before crashing and being unable to qualify. That was his final day in the limelight, since his name hasn't returned on the entry lists of any of the following Indy editions.

#6 Jim Thurman

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Posted 04 November 2002 - 22:40

Originally posted by Rainer Nyberg
Yes, Danny was involved in Dragracing during the 1960s and well into the 1970s. But he actually started his career on bikes.

My story below on Ongais from : http://www.8w.forix.com/ongais.html


Rainer, nice story on Ongais.

Too bad Earl (the unions) hasn't replied to this thread, he is the Ongais expert. Earl basically got Danny in the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.

The only thing I can add is that Danny Ongais raced a Sprint Car in CRA (California Racing Association), but I believe only a couple of times. I'm not sure of the year, but it was while he was still drag racing (1967?).

Not that unusual, Sports Car drivers Dave Ridenour and John Morton also raced Sprint Cars. Ridenour tragically died in a Sprint Car accident at Calistoga, California over July 4th weekend, 1966.


Jim Thurman

#7 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 November 2002 - 00:29

In June, 1967 I graduated from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. At the time it was not exactly the most fancy place in the world. So I had to put my mother and aunt in a motel in Bristol. In the parking lot this guy was working on his dragster by himself. It was Danny O...at the time he was one of the top drag racers in America. It turns out
it was also the weekend of the major drag races at Bristol Speedway.

Danny got to where he was because he worked hard, had talent and was totally fearless. I'm impressed that he survived his various "incidents"!

#8 cabianca

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Posted 11 November 2002 - 05:18

I'm interested in the comment that during his drag racing career, Ongias won "several NHRA US National titles." Could you name the year(s) and class(s) that he won. I'm not familiar with any such titles.

#9 rdrcr

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Posted 11 November 2002 - 06:18

Originally posted by cabianca
I'm interested in the comment that during his drag racing career, Ongias won "several NHRA US National titles." Could you name the year(s) and class(s) that he won. I'm not familiar with any such titles.


From a part of Ongias History .

...He debuted that ride at the 1964 Winternationals, defeating Thompson, 8.39 to 8.53, for the Top Gas eliminator title, and he claimed similar honors at that year's Hot Rod Magazine Championships. His near-total domination of the Southern California Top Fuel action with the Ongais-Broussard-Davis Mangler team in early 1965 helped begin his superstar status.

Strangely enough, a large number of his early accomplishments went relatively unnoticed in comparison to some of his less-talented but more boisterous opponents. Late in 1968, his driving feats were destined to overpower his shy disposition, and the racing world was soon about to hear plenty of Ongais.

The beginning of a profitable partnership with Thompson began that fall when the two teamed up. Together they broke 295 national and international speed and endurance records at Bonneville with a pair of Mach 1 Mustangs. When Thompson made his initial venture into the competitive world of Funny Cars, the established formula of Ongais in a Mach I was retained.

Ongais' adaptability to new and strange mounts was evidenced when his first pass produced a 7.57 time slip. Soon 7.3s became commonplace for Ongais while the rest of the field struggled in the 7.7 and 7.8 range. The combination made Ongais nearly unbeatable in 1969, winning the Springnationals and NHRA Nationals and virtually all of his match race appearances. The car was built by team driver Pat Foster and was powered by Ford's then-unbeatable SOHC Hemi engine.

After leaving Thompson, Ongais drove for Thompson's archrival John Mazmanian, who subsequently sold his racing operation to the Vel's-Parnelli Jones racing team in the early 1970s. At times, Ongais drove the Top Fueler and Funny Car at the same event. He stayed with the team until 1974, when he began to heavily pursue a road racing/Indy 500 career.

Ongais' natural driving talents helped him establish himself on the road-racing circuit. In 1974, he won 12 of 15 starts in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition. He finished 14th in the Formula 5000 series points standings one year later.

His Indy Car racing career began in 1976, and he was the fastest rookie ever at the Indy 500. In 1977, Ongais qualified in the third row at 193.040 mph with Ted Fields' Interscope Racing team. He won the Michigan 200 during his Rookie of the Year campaign that season and followed up with more wins in 1978 at the Datsun 200 in Ontario, the Coors 200 in Texas, and the Molson Diamond Indy 300-kilometer road race in Canada. He was by far the fastest entry on race day at the 1978 Indy 500 until mechanical problems struck after he had led 71 of 145 laps.

Ongais qualified for 10 consecutive Indy 500s, from 1977 through 1986. His best finish was fourth place in 1979 after starting 27th. He was scheduled to drive one of Roger Penske's cars in 1987, but was forced to drop out after suffering a concussion in a racing accident. Al Unser Sr. replaced him and won the race to tie Foyt's four Indy 500 career victories. Ongais also competed in such prestigious races as the 24 Hours of LeMans during his career.

After a 10-year layoff, Ongais made a comeback bid in 1996 and finished seventh from his last-place starting position.

Ongais has said that he's had a great career, raced all over the world, and it all started because of drag racing. He remains the only driver to have won professional-category races in sports cars, Indy cars, and drag racing. --

#10 WGD706

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Posted 11 November 2002 - 14:30

The Sezio Florida Racing Team No. 87 Ford-powered Norma that Danny shared with Dale Pelfrey,Edouard Sezionale and Patrice Roussel qualified 8th and finished 11th.
Final position : 11th (89 laps covered) - best lap in 1'49''997
Edouard Sezionale : "At the beginning of my stint, I got a contact with the wall after a Corvette driving mistake so that I had to stop at the pit for control : we lost one lap and the 6th final position !!! Nevertheless, It was a good race : the car got a lot of potential and we met a nice and fast driver, Danny Ongais"

#11 cabianca

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 05:31

Sorry rdrcr,
My conception of a NHRA title is a yearly title in class. Yours seems to be a National meet wins. By your measure, Danny did indeed win NHRA "National titles". By mine, he did not.

#12 Jim Thurman

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 05:55

Originally posted by cabianca
Sorry rdrcr,
My conception of a NHRA title is a yearly title in class. Yours seems to be a National meet wins. By your measure, Danny did indeed win NHRA "National titles". By mine, he did not.


Keep in mind that the NHRA didn't even have a yearly title for many years. I have no idea the first year they awarded a points championship, but even then, the premium was on event wins rather than the points title for years afterwards. The U.S. Nationals was considered the event.

I've always understood the guy behind the AHRA (Bob something or other, last name escapes me at the moment) as being credited with developing the rounds points system, which was later adopted by the NHRA.

I ought to check with some of the folks on one of the nostalgia Drag Racing boards. They'd have detailed info and come up with it in no time.


Jim Thurman

#13 rdrcr

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 07:39

Originally posted by cabianca
Sorry rdrcr,
My conception of a NHRA title is a yearly title in class. Yours seems to be a National meet wins. By your measure, Danny did indeed win NHRA "National titles". By mine, he did not.


:confused: :

I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to the drag racing scene, past or present. I was only trying to help.... if one has read my previous posts, I'm pretty sure one can tell when I have an opinion vs. when I'm just trying to supply a bit of information...

So, how do you construe my relaying of a reputable source of information, in which to provide some sort of answer to your question as being an opinion of mine?

Anyway, in effort to hold more light towards this topic ...


I understand that the "Nationals" at Indy as it was called prior to 1972, was the coveted event. After 1972, the name was changed to the U.S. Nationals.

With just 2 minutes invested, I found this from a Goggle search:

The statistics that accompany this tale deal only with selected match races and not the whole 1976 package. Based on printed reports in National Dragster, Drag News, and the various drag racing magazines, Prudhomme compiled a stunning 119-22 win-loss mark.
Obviously there are other great years, although the above three stand out the most. In passing, one can't overlook the twin championship seasons of Gene Snow in 1970 (NHRA, IHRA) and Mark Oswald in 1984 (NHRA, IHRA) nor the 1969 season enjoyed by Danny Ongais at the wheel of Mickey Thompson's Mach-1 Mustang, Raymond Beadle's amazing win streak in 1976 with his "Blue Max" Mustang II and his twin championship 1981 season, or Kenny Bernstein's seven-event winning 1987 season with the Budweiser King "Batmobile" Buick.

Of this next group, Ongais probably was the most impressive. Snow, Beadle, and Oswald all won two hot rod association championships in their golden years and would seem to rate above a car whose only season-ending award was the 1969 Drag News (Funny Car) Driver of the Year, but a closer look gives a different picture.

Snow's "Rambunctious" Dodge Challenger won three NHRA titles out of seven races and had the best top-ending car in the sport, winding up with an aggregate best of 6.76, 218.44, one of the top three e.t.s all season. In AHRA competition, Snow won five of 10 Grand American events.

Beadle had a strong car in 1981 with his "Blue Max" Plymouth Horizon, but he only won one NHRA event (a biggie, though, the U.S. Nationals) and captured two IHRA titles that season. Actually, Beadle's 1976 season produced his greatest winning streak when he went undefeated from the IHRA Pro-Am, April 3-4 to June 13 when he lost in the semifinals to Tom McEwen at the NHRA Springnationals. In that run of wins, Beadle compiled a 30-0 mark while scoring at the Pro-Am, the NHRA Cajun Nationals, and the IHRA World and Dixie Nationals national events.

Oswald, of course, wheeled the awesome Candies & Hughes/Old Milwaukee Pontiac Trans Am in 1984 to the NHRA and IHRA Funny Car crown but, like Beadle, went just far enough to win. He won two NHRA and IHRA events that year and ran the best speed in the sport's history with a 262.39-mph blast at the IHRA Northern Nationals in Milan, Michigan during July.

Ongais probably had as great a first half of the year as one could ask for. He, like Nicholson, had a bit of technological edge because Thompson's Amos Saterlee-tuned Mustang, built by number two team driver Pat Foster, featured a Top Fuel-style roll cage (as opposed to the old square driver area) and more importantly, zoomie headers as used by the Top Fuel dragsters.

From the completion of the 1969 NHRA Winternationals (where the car DNQed) to the Orange County U.S. Professional Dragster Championships on July 19, Ongais was basically undefeated. He broke an O-ring against Charlie Allen while staging in the Funny Car final of a March 29 Orange County Funny Car show and red-lighted on June 8 at the AHRA Spring Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., against Candies & Hughes. He got back in on the break rule at that AHRA event and won it on the reprieve.

In the time between February and the day of his first real loss, Ongais racked up an incredible 55-2 mark going into the USPDC race. On the way, Ongais won the Stardust National Open in Las Vegas, the Bakersfield March Meet, the AHRA Grand Nationals at Detroit, the AHRA Springnationals at Bristol, the NHRA Springnationals at Dallas, the AHRA Grand American at Lions, and the Orange County Nitro Championships.

At the USPDC race, Ongais knocked off Ray Alley, "Flash Gordon" Mineo, and Gary Gabelich in the Beach City Corvette for the right to face the red-hot Dave Beebe in the "Big John" Mazmanian Barracuda in the final and it was here that Ongais truly lost his first race of the year when Beebe prevailed, 7.45, 205.01 to 7.55, 193.54.

The M/T/Ongais Mustang's next stop was Irwindale on July 26 and the Hawaiian racer was beaten by Gas Ronda, indicating that he was being brought back down to earth.

The M/T-Ongais team still managed to go on to win the 1969 U.S. Nationals and also get asterisked credit for the first six-second Funny Car run with a 6.96 at Kansas City International on Sept. 14.

By the end of the year, though, racers like Pat Minick in "the Chi-Town Hustler," Gene Snow, and Don Schumacher clearly had the better running cars. Ongais' success in 1969 was pretty much the last for an SOHC Ford-powered Funny Car.

In any event, it seems that Ongias sure had the ability to run with and even surpass the best of them down the strip. It does appear that he gave the Ford powered cars their best runs ever.

BTW, I never thought much of his road racing or oval skills as he had a propensity for being, ...uhm, rather hard on the equipment. But I sure wouldn't say that he wasn't committed 10/10ths for driving as hard or harder than the next guy.

#14 Don Capps

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 14:04

Originally posted by cabianca
Sorry rdrcr,
My conception of a NHRA title is a yearly title in class. Yours seems to be a National meet wins. By your measure, Danny did indeed win NHRA "National titles". By mine, he did not.


Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think that the NHRA really had a seasonal championship systems of any consequence until Winston got involved in 1975 (?) or so. Indeed, one of the nice things about drag racing until recently was that the racers were rated by the Nationals (individual events) they won than any annual points system. Of course, that has now completely changed it seems.

I recall eagerly reading my copies of Hot Rod to see how the SpringNationals, the Nationals at Indy, the FallNationals, and the WinterNationals went -- plus some of the other Big Meets -- since they were the Grands Prix of the Quarter-mile world...

I cannot recall the person in the AHRA (or was it the IHRA...?) who came up with the points scheme based on how far a driver advanced in the rounds, but the NHRA certainly adopted it by the end of the 1970's.

#15 Allen Brown

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Posted 12 November 2002 - 18:52

Originally posted by rdrcr
... In 1974, he won 12 of 15 starts in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition ...

Really?!

I find that pretty hard to believe. I've rarely seen anyone win more than five or six Nationals in a season as it's hard to fit that many rounds in. Maybe this could include Regional races in northern California but it sounds inflated to me. I'll check his Nationals points total when I get home.

Allen

#16 theunions

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Posted 11 December 2002 - 07:23

Originally posted by Jim Thurman

Too bad Earl (the unions) hasn't replied to this thread, he is the Ongais expert. Earl basically got Danny in the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.

As Jim knows, I was busy at Fontana/Phoenix/Mexico City much of the past month and wasn't able to spend much time lurking in online forums. ;)

I found out about Danny's GARRA gig while reading the LA Times in the Fontana media lounge.

In terms of drag racing championships, my records indicate he won the 1963 and 1964 AHRA AA Gas Dragster titles and the NHRA AA Fuel Dragster title in 1965.

Just received the program for the 2000 Motorsports Hall of Fame, which inducted him as a drag racing pioneer. (the following by Greg Sharp)


Danny Ongais is simply a racer's racer. The Flyin' Hawaiian has earned the reputation as someone who can drive nearly any type of race car as hard as it can possibly be driven. In 1957, at the tender age of 14, Danny Ongais was already racing motorcycles in the dirt of his native Kahului, Maui, Hawaii. By 17, the expert-rated bike racer was winning in sports cars as well. At the local drag strip some friends let him drive their roadster, and his first run was as if he'd been driving for years. A year later he won the Island Championships and outstanding driver of the year award. In 1962, Danny came to the mainland with another unknown islander named Roland Leong who flew his dragster over for the NHRA Winternationals. At the Pomona event, onlookers predicted that the Long Distance and Best Appearing awards presented to the newcomers was the best they'd ever do. Moving to California, Danny joined Dragster Co., one of the first commercial manufacturers of dragster chassis. Proprietor and veteran dragster chauffeur Jim Nelson could tell from the beginning that "all he wanted to do was race. We let him drive my car and his first run was as good as any I ever made. He had that natural ability to drive anything he climbed into." One year later Ongais proved the Pomona skeptics wrong by winning the AHRA Winter Championships.

Danny ran the Dragster car virtually all by himself. He towed it to races all over the country, built and tuned the engine and drove with only the help of a bystander to drive the push car. In 1964, Mickey Thompson was developing Ford speed equipment and asked Danny to drive one of his dragsters. His second run in the car was the fastest a Ford powered fuel dragster had ever gone. Driving three different dragsters at the '64 NHRA Winternationals, he ultimately defeated Thompson for the Top Gas title. He was also victorious at AHRA and UDRA events. At the Hot Rod Magazine Championships at Riverside he pushed his crippled dragster the entire quarter mile by hand to an elapsed time of one minute and 35 seconds to stay alive in the competition he won later. His "Chevy Too" gas dragster was soon ranked No. 1 in the nation.

In late '64 Ongais moved into the nitro ranks for good, driving the Broussard-Davis-Ongais "Mangler" dragster. He won the Grand Opening meet in his adopted hometown of Carlsbad with one of the fastest runs to date, a 7.62 second, 44 mph blast.

In 1968, Mickey Thompson asked Danny to help drive a team of '69 Mustangs to set National and International endurance records at Bonneville. Ongais' incredible car control on the wet, slippery salt helped set Class C records at a nearly 160 mph average for 500 miles. In 1969, he once again joined Thompson driving one of a matched pair of Mustang funny cars. The unlikely combination of OHC Ford power, a chassis built by dragster veterans, and a driver who had never driven a funny car, totally dominated the season like no funny car before. Danny's "blue car" was nearly unbeatable, decisively winning the Bakersfield March meet, Manufacturer's Meet, NHRA Springnationals and US Nationals. Joining the Vel's-Parnelli Jones team in the early '70's, he often drove their Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car in the same event.

In 1975, Danny left drag racing to pursue a successful road racing and Indycar career. He won the 24 Hours of Daytona, led every Indycar race he started in 1978 and qualified for ten consecutive Indy 500s. On-The-Gas remains the only driver in history to have achieved professional level victories in drag racing, oval track racing and road racing.

#17 theunions

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Posted 11 December 2002 - 07:29

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Really?!

I find that pretty hard to believe. I've rarely seen anyone win more than five or six Nationals in a season as it's hard to fit that many rounds in. Maybe this could include Regional races in northern California but it sounds inflated to me. I'll check his Nationals points total when I get home.


I have the exact same info in my 1974 records - I believe that came from an Interscope press release. Along the way he:

Attended SCCA Cal Club Drivers School and earned SCCA Regional and National competition licenses

Won Northern Pacific Division Formula A Championship, Cal Club Regional Formula A Championship and Gold Rush Championship

Finished 2nd at Championship Road Racing Classic Formula 5000 division, Road Atlanta

#18 Allen Brown

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Posted 11 December 2002 - 17:57

Earl

Thanks. The Regionals and "Gold Rush Championship" would explain the high number. Do you have any more detail on either of these? I have no records at all of Cal Club Regionals so anything at all would be helpful.

Many thanks

Allen

#19 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 12 December 2002 - 05:25

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Really?!

I find that pretty hard to believe. I've rarely seen anyone win more than five or six Nationals in a season as it's hard to fit that many rounds in. Maybe this could include Regional races in northern California but it sounds inflated to me. I'll check his Nationals points total when I get home.

Allen



Allen - as you say in a later post, this is likely a combination of Regionals and Nationals. However it certainly is - and would have been at that time - entirely possible to amass that many wins in a given year in Nationals alone (and any number of people have). I have raced in as many as 14 Nationals in a single season. So certainly a top driver in a dominant car (F5000 was never well subscribed for entries at the National level and even fewer would have been top rank setups) could very believably run up 10 or 12 National wins in a year.

When you say that it would be hard to fit that many rounds in - I believe you are thinking of an earlier era. Throughout the 50's and early 60's that would indeed have been so. To win an SCCA National Championship in any given class it was necessary to have the time and resources to earn the necessary points by contesting races all over the country. Few could do it. So beginning in 1963 (this is off the top of my head - it may have been a year earlier or a year later) the country was divided in to seven (now eight) divisions - each division puts on beween 8 to 12 Nationals. This was when the Run-offs began. The top three or four (now six) points scorers from each division were invited to the Run-offs where the National Champion is crowned in a one-race shootout. It's a great format by the way. But there is also nothing prohibiting a driver going out of division to run additional Nationals (although you can only count your two best out of division results in the points tally for your division ranking).

As I said, the Ongais total as quoted may or may not have included both Nationals and Regionals - but my point is that it is entirely possible to win that many Nationals in a single year.

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#20 theunions

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Posted 12 December 2002 - 06:44

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Thanks. The Regionals and "Gold Rush Championship" would explain the high number. Do you have any more detail on either of these? I have no records at all of Cal Club Regionals so anything at all would be helpful.


Unfortunately no - that was the extent of the description given by Interscope PR (c. 1980).

#21 ray b

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Posted 12 December 2002 - 20:46

I saw him race at the first miami GP [sports cars]
led from the start in the rain in the smallest car 1600cc turbo ford
in the race, front eng toooo!!!!!!
untill he hydroplained off in a race rained out shortly after his crash
by a totaly flooded track

#22 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 December 2002 - 01:27

Originally posted by theunions

As Jim knows, I was busy at Fontana/Phoenix/Mexico City much of the past month and wasn't able to spend much time lurking in online forums. ;)

Danny Ongais is simply a racer's racer. The Flyin' Hawaiian has earned the reputation as someone who can drive nearly any type of race car as hard as it can possibly be driven. In 1957, at the tender age of 14, Danny Ongais was already racing motorcycles in the dirt of his native Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.


Earl, no actually I had a lapse and did forget. Glad to see you reply to the thread and thanks for the bio on Danny.

Am I correct in assuming his motorcycle days were at Kahului Stadium?...the same Kahului Stadium that was a NASCAR sanctioned dirt track in 1954?.

Once while going through microfilm at the California State Library in Sacramento, for a break, I went through a bit of microfilm of the Honolulu Star to see if there was any mention of tracks on the other islands. Great coverage of the racing at Honolulu Stadium, where Jerry Unser was winning big, but other than an item on upcoming motorcycle races on a dirt track at Hilo, I didn't run across anything...especially on Kahului, which I was interested in finding out more about.

I recently ran across an item on Danny's CRA Sprint Car experience. Sounds as if it might have been limited to a one-off appearance in a very poor car in a Consolation race in 1966.

I remember the San Diego papers covering Danny's early days at Indy because of him living in Carlsbad at the time.


Jim Thurman

#23 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 December 2002 - 01:29

Originally posted by Allen Brown
Earl

Thanks. The Regionals and "Gold Rush Championship" would explain the high number. Do you have any more detail on either of these? I have no records at all of Cal Club Regionals so anything at all would be helpful.


Allen,

Same here unfortunately. By 1974, Autoweek was providing little, if any, coverage of the SCCA Regionals.


Jim Thurman

#24 theunions

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Posted 17 December 2002 - 06:40

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
Am I correct in assuming his motorcycle days were at Kahului Stadium?...the same Kahului Stadium that was a NASCAR sanctioned dirt track in 1954?.

Once while going through microfilm at the California State Library in Sacramento, for a break, I went through a bit of microfilm of the Honolulu Star to see if there was any mention of tracks on the other islands. Great coverage of the racing at Honolulu Stadium, where Jerry Unser was winning big, but other than an item on upcoming motorcycle races on a dirt track at Hilo, I didn't run across anything...especially on Kahului, which I was interested in finding out more about.


It is (was) the Kahului Fairgrounds (not Stadium) - demolished in the early '80's (?) and is now an industrial complex. The relocated Fairgrounds have no racing component.

NASCAR sanctioning of stock car racing in HI only ran from 1952 to '53. Long, sordid story on why that was so brief...but basically the promoters 1) thought Big Bill & co. were ripping them off and 2) were constantly battling against the drivers and their threats to unionize.

I have next to no statistical documentation whatsoever, contemporary or otherwise, on 1) racing activities in Kahului and 2) ANYTHING Danny did in his home state. Both Honolulu dailies totally ignored both subjects I have no clear-cut idea where Danny raced on Maui.

I would love to find out if one of the Dillingham Field sports car clique who supposedly looked upon Danny and other drag racers with disdain was someone by the name of Peter Revson...would love to find out more about Peter's starting his career here, period. I was told to query Pete Lyons about this, but I'm not sure if I have his contact info.

BTW, I just spent last weekend in Kahului (first ever trip to Maui) for the HI State Go-Karting Championships...in other words, no time to do research, unearth some old-timer who knew Danny, etc.

#25 Jim Thurman

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Posted 20 December 2002 - 23:25

Originally posted by theunions


It is (was) the Kahului Fairgrounds (not Stadium) - demolished in the early '80's (?) and is now an industrial complex. The relocated Fairgrounds have no racing component.

NASCAR sanctioning of stock car racing in HI only ran from 1952 to '53. Long, sordid story on why that was so brief...but basically the promoters 1) thought Big Bill & co. were ripping them off and 2) were constantly battling against the drivers and their threats to unionize.

I have next to no statistical documentation whatsoever, contemporary or otherwise, on 1) racing activities in Kahului and 2) ANYTHING Danny did in his home state. Both Honolulu dailies totally ignored both subjects I have no clear-cut idea where Danny raced on Maui.

I would love to find out if one of the Dillingham Field sports car clique who supposedly looked upon Danny and other drag racers with disdain was someone by the name of Peter Revson...would love to find out more about Peter's starting his career here, period. I was told to query Pete Lyons about this, but I'm not sure if I have his contact info.

BTW, I just spent last weekend in Kahului (first ever trip to Maui) for the HI State Go-Karting Championships...in other words, no time to do research, unearth some old-timer who knew Danny, etc.


Earl,

Thanks for the info. I had it Kahului Stadium from Allan E. Brown's book. What you mention about the short run of NASCAR in Hawaii, that was repeated other places as well. It's amazing NASCAR survived...sometimes despite itself.

Any newspaper published on Maui?...if so, do they have microfilm or archives? Probably too much to hope for, but it's a thought.


Jim Thurman

#26 theunions

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Posted 21 December 2002 - 07:44

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
Any newspaper published on Maui?...if so, do they have microfilm or archives? Probably too much to hope for, but it's a thought.


There currently are two. The Maui News is out of Wailuku and runs weekdays and Sundays. But in the Fifties, they were only published Wed. and Sat. There is a Lahaina paper also, but it's weekly and only dates back to 1979. I'm not aware of defunct papers that would've been around in the Fifties.

The state library supposedly has the Maui News on microfilm, but I'll have to see how extensive that is.

#27 ghinzani

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 01:49

I would love to find out if one of the Dillingham Field sports car clique who supposedly looked upon Danny and other drag racers with disdain was someone by the name of Peter Revson...would love to find out more about Peter's starting his career here, period. I was told to query Pete Lyons about this, but I'm not sure if I have his contact info.


Pete Lyons is available here :
http://www.facebook....68494822?ref=ts


#28 RA Historian

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 03:30

Wow, some kind of a record! Only seven and a half years from question to answer!

#29 Marc Sproule

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:19

I was fortunate enough to get to know Danny in late '70s. Although a very quiet, seemingly very shy person, he was a lot of fun to be around. Can you say very dry sense of humor?

"Flyin' Hawaiian" was not something he found very humorous. He seriously disliked that nickname.

One of these days I'll come across the snaps of him I have in a T-300 in an SCCA National race at Sears Point in '74. If they're any good I'll upload them to flickr.

Hopefully it won't take eight years.

In the meantime, here are the ones I have of him that are in my flickr stuff.....

http://www.flickr.co...57623186793517/

http://www.flickr.co...57623252068063/

http://www.flickr.co...57623252068063/

http://www.flickr.co...57623252068063/





#30 Rob

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 10:41

Wow, some kind of a record! Only seven and a half years from question to answer!


Unfortunately, Earl died in 2007 and thus couldn't get the answer to his question.

Edited by Rob, 12 July 2010 - 10:42.


#31 ghinzani

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 18:20

Unfortunately, Earl died in 2007 and thus couldn't get the answer to his question.



I wasnt aware of that sad fact, I always enjoyed his informative postings.

Pete Lyons page & website is well worth a read through though.

#32 arttidesco

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 18:45

Wow, some kind of a record! Only seven and a half years from question to answer!


I think I answered one last week about James Hunt in a Shadow 3B that was eight years in the answering, but I am not proud :smoking:

Here are the only two pics I have of Danny the first at Jubilee Gardens in Londidnium,

Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us


the other from the opening laps of Daily Express 200 when Danny and Al Unser in the Lola T500 fought over every inch of tarmac at Silverstone later in the week.

Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us


Danny broke a drive shaft on lap 4 I think, and Al ran out of gas at Abbey.

Apologies for the wobble vision :-)



#33 Marc Sproule

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:30

Here's one of Danny in a Shadow F1 car. Long Beach '78

http://www.flickr.co...N03/4350115517/

Edited by Marc Sproule, 14 July 2010 - 03:42.


#34 arttidesco

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:05

Gorgeous pic Marc

Some weeks earlier Danny was in the Ensign N177 which he qualified 21st in Argentina and 24th in Brazil, retired on both occasions.

#35 Marc Sproule

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 13:04

Thanks Art.

I should have more of him in that car. Reality keeps getting in the way of searching for and scanning images. I hope to be able to get back to doing that soon.

I'm pretty sure I have one of him very sideways in the same spot.


#36 arttidesco

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 13:26

Thanks Art.

I should have more of him in that car. Reality keeps getting in the way of searching for and scanning images. I hope to be able to get back to doing that soon.

I'm pretty sure I have one of him very sideways in the same spot.


Look forward to seeing it Mark :up:

#37 ghinzani

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 05:18

I love the footage here of Danny standing on the gas - see that car snake out of Clearways!
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Also the commentator invents a new corner at Brands "Drew-ur-ids"

#38 arttidesco

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 09:19

I love the footage here of Danny standing on the gas - see that car snake out of Clearways!
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

Also the commentator invents a new corner at Brands "Drew-ur-ids"


Not seen that footage for 32 years, not sure I remember seeing it in colour originally either :rotfl:

Thanks for sharing :-)

#39 Gary Jarlson

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 23:43

Although I had heard of Ongais from his drag racing successes, I didn't really find out how he approached racing until I ran several Cal Club and Norpac races with him (notice I didn't say "against" him) in 1974. I know the word "fear" was not in his vocabulary. I watched him try things, particularly at Willow Springs, as part of his very steep learning curve in road racing that made my hair stand on end. A lesser driver would have rolled the car into a ball. He'd just drag it by the scruff of the neck back into some semblance of control. Ongais earned an invite to the Runoffs at Road Atlanta in '74 and for the first two days was driving his T300, a car that was clearly no match for Jerry Hansen's T332. But help was on the way. There was a F5000 race at Riverside the weekend before Runoffs started. As soon as the green flag dropped, two guys in a VPJ truck hit the road with Andretti's backup Viceroy car. A come-to-Jesus moment happened for me the day after Ongais' new car arrived. I'm pedaling my FC Brabham as fast as it would go down the back straight and when I check my mirrors, I see Ongais and Hansen coming at a ferocious speed--side-by-side. It was too late to do anything so I just stayed in the middle of the track and they stormed past on both sides. I swear that if I hadn't been belted in, their wake turbulence would have sucked me out of the car.

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#40 arttidesco

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 00:29

Although I had heard of Ongais from his drag racing successes, I didn't really find out how he approached racing until I ran several Cal Club and Norpac races with him (notice I didn't say "against" him) in 1974. I know the word "fear" was not in his vocabulary. I watched him try things, particularly at Willow Springs, as part of his very steep learning curve in road racing that made my hair stand on end. A lesser driver would have rolled the car into a ball. He'd just drag it by the scruff of the neck back into some semblance of control. Ongais earned an invite to the Runoffs at Road Atlanta in '74 and for the first two days was driving his T300, a car that was clearly no match for Jerry Hansen's T332. But help was on the way. There was a F5000 race at Riverside the weekend before Runoffs started. As soon as the green flag dropped, two guys in a VPJ truck hit the road with Andretti's backup Viceroy car. A come-to-Jesus moment happened for me the day after Ongais' new car arrived. I'm pedaling my FC Brabham as fast as it would go down the back straight and when I check my mirrors, I see Ongais and Hansen coming at a ferocious speed--side-by-side. It was too late to do anything so I just stayed in the middle of the track and they stormed past on both sides. I swear that if I hadn't been belted in, their wake turbulence would have sucked me out of the car.


Fab story Gary, maybe running drag cars Danny learned some car control skills that the more pass by the more pedestrian driver, myself included ?

For those of us who are a bit slow and or on the wrong side of the pond what is an 'FC' Brabham ?

#41 RA Historian

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 14:58

For those of us who are a bit slow and or on the wrong side of the pond what is an 'FC' Brabham ?

IIRC, at that time SCCA Formula C was for open wheel race cars of under 1100cc displacement. Not too sure about that 1100 number, but FB at the time was populated by the 1600cc twin cam Lotus-Ford engines and their multiple variations.
Tom

#42 arttidesco

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 21:43

IIRC, at that time SCCA Formula C was for open wheel race cars of under 1100cc displacement. Not too sure about that 1100 number, but FB at the time was populated by the 1600cc twin cam Lotus-Ford engines and their multiple variations.
Tom


Thanks Tom no wonder Gary felt like he was nearly sucked out of his seat when Danny and Jerry blew by :-)

#43 Bob Riebe

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 03:27

IIRC, at that time SCCA Formula C was for open wheel race cars of under 1100cc displacement. Not too sure about that 1100 number, but FB at the time was populated by the 1600cc twin cam Lotus-Ford engines and their multiple variations.
Tom

Formula:
C- not to exceed 1100 cc
B- " " " 1600 cc
A " " " 305 in. cu.

C- became Continental; B- became Atlantic, and A- became Can-Am.


#44 arttidesco

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 08:25

Formula:
C- not to exceed 1100 cc
B- " " " 1600 cc
A " " " 305 in. cu.

C- became Continental; B- became Atlantic, and A- became Can-Am.


Thanks Bob :-)

#45 RA Historian

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 13:07

Formula:
C- not to exceed 1100 cc
B- " " " 1600 cc
A " " " 305 in. cu.

C- became Continental; B- became Atlantic, and A- became Can-Am.

Thanks for the confirmation of the FC upper limit, Bob. But I should point out that Formula A did not become Can-Am; rather it became F-5000. Can Am, as we know, was originally for unlimited sports racers; called Group 7 back then.
Tom

#46 Bob Riebe

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 17:29

Thanks for the confirmation of the FC upper limit, Bob. But I should point out that Formula A did not become Can-Am; rather it became F-5000. Can Am, as we know, was originally for unlimited sports racers; called Group 7 back then.
Tom

Do not forget after the real Group 7 Can-Am died they killed the Forula A/5000 and put fenders on them calling them Can-Am cars.

#47 RA Historian

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 20:51

Thus sullying the memory of the original, real Can Am. Very strictly speaking Formula 5000 can be traced into the Can Am (Can Am II, or Son of Can Am in order to differentiate it from the 'real' Can Am), but to say that Formula A became Can Am requires a bit of the six degrees of separation thinking.

The original Formula A begat F-5000, but in the US that was applied to the pro series only. At the SCCA Club racing level, the class retained the Formula A name until it was discontinued as a National class following, I believe, the 1977 season. So very strictly speaking Formula A itself did not become the Can Am, as we know and remember it. Further, neither Formula A nor Formula 5000 became Can Am, I think we can all agree. That of course being the original, 'real' Can Am of 1966-74. When it comes to Can Am II, F-5000 cars were allowed to run in this series clothed in enveloping bodies, but there also were cars built specifically for the Can Am II series that were not F-5000 variants. Hence, IMO saying that Formula A became the Can Am is, shall we say, a bit of a stretch.
Tom

Edited by RA Historian, 02 August 2010 - 20:53.


#48 arttidesco

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 01:52

Thus sullying the memory of the original, real Can Am. Very strictly speaking Formula 5000 can be traced into the Can Am (Can Am II, or Son of Can Am in order to differentiate it from the 'real' Can Am), but to say that Formula A became Can Am requires a bit of the six degrees of separation thinking.

The original Formula A begat F-5000, but in the US that was applied to the pro series only. At the SCCA Club racing level, the class retained the Formula A name until it was discontinued as a National class following, I believe, the 1977 season. So very strictly speaking Formula A itself did not become the Can Am, as we know and remember it. Further, neither Formula A nor Formula 5000 became Can Am, I think we can all agree. That of course being the original, 'real' Can Am of 1966-74. When it comes to Can Am II, F-5000 cars were allowed to run in this series clothed in enveloping bodies, but there also were cars built specifically for the Can Am II series that were not F-5000 variants. Hence, IMO saying that Formula A became the Can Am is, shall we say, a bit of a stretch.
Tom


Am I correct in thinking Shadow ran a DN4 from the original Can Am series with small block 5 litre Chevy or 5 litre Dodge in a Can Am 2 race ?

#49 Bob Riebe

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:57

Thus sullying the memory of the original, real Can Am. Very strictly speaking Formula 5000 can be traced into the Can Am (Can Am II, or Son of Can Am in order to differentiate it from the 'real' Can Am), but to say that Formula A became Can Am requires a bit of the six degrees of separation thinking.

The original Formula A begat F-5000, but in the US that was applied to the pro series only. At the SCCA Club racing level, the class retained the Formula A name until it was discontinued as a National class following, I believe, the 1977 season. So very strictly speaking Formula A itself did not become the Can Am, as we know and remember it. Further, neither Formula A nor Formula 5000 became Can Am, I think we can all agree. That of course being the original, 'real' Can Am of 1966-74. When it comes to Can Am II, F-5000 cars were allowed to run in this series clothed in enveloping bodies, but there also were cars built specifically for the Can Am II series that were not F-5000 variants. Hence, IMO saying that Formula A became the Can Am is, shall we say, a bit of a stretch.
Tom

I despise Can-Am II, but fact is that is what they turned the Formula cars into, so it did turn into- Can-Am II.

This is what the author of OldRacingCars.com says:
The SCCA thought they could fix the problems of F5000 and also revive the much-missed Can-Am by effectively combining them. They scrapped F5000 and introduced a new Can-Am for 5-litre single-seat sports cars. So everyone slapped a sports car body on their F5000 Lola and continued as if nothing had happened.




#50 RA Historian

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 14:38

Am I correct in thinking Shadow ran a DN4 from the original Can Am series with small block 5 litre Chevy or 5 litre Dodge in a Can Am 2 race ?

Yes you are. A Shadow DN-4 with five liter Dodge V-8 raced in a couple early season events driven by Randy Lewis. It proved to be uncompetitive with the single seater cars. (Say what you will about the driver.) The car was withdrawn, and a replacement was prepared based on the DN-6 F-5000 car. Called the DN-6C, IIRC. It raced a couple end of season events with Alan Jones driving. Went much better that the DN-4 with Lewis...