Posted 29 December 2002 - 07:00
I believe Eyreley was an SCCA champion in a Porsche (in 1969?) and came to Australia in 1971 (at the age of 20) to compete in the Tasman Series (for Formula A/5000 cars) driving a Bonphil Racing Industries Surtees TS8. I'm not too sure about the detail, but I believe the venture lacked a decent budget, the results were mediocre and it all ended when Eyreley crashed the Surtees at Warwick Farm.
What caught my attention was seeing in the Chevron book (which I don't have) an interview with Frank Oport, the American agent, where he said that Eyreley was up there with the best drivers that he employed (I presume in Formula Atlantic.) When one considers that Oport ran Keke Rosberg amongst other top Atlantic drivers this was quite a rap
My questions are:
What categories did he race in?
How good was he?
Where is he now?
Something tells me that he might not still be around, or maybe he falls into the "lost talent" category, but hopefully I'm wrong!
Posted 29 December 2002 - 08:13
Moving to Formula B the following year, he was second in the opening round of the SCCA Continental Championship series then won five races on the trot. Over the second half of the season he won only one more race, and also took another second place, but won the FB championship with more than twice the points of series runner-up Fred Stevenson.
In 1970 he ran the FB series again, this time in a Fred Opert Racing Chevron 17B. With eight first places and three seconds in the 13-round series he was a convincing champion for the second consecutive year.
Equipped with the first Surtees TS8 off the line he then set off to the 1971 Tasman Series in New Zealand and Australia. After engine problems in the opening round at Levin he finished fourth in the NZGP at Pukekohe, behind the McLarens of Allen, Matich and McRae but ahead of John Cannon’s US championship-winning car. In the next round, at Wigram, he qualified badly, then put the car into the hangars on the warm-up lap and failed to start. After an indifferent race at Teretonga, punctuated by a couple of spins, he wrecked the car in practice for the first Australian round and did not complete the series.
Plans to contest the 1971 North American F5000 series were dropped, and I don't think he ever raced again. It all looks like an example of the sad situation whereby someone dominates one series but fails to crack it when he moves to a higher category.
Eyerly was, incidentally, aged 29 at the time of his Tasman sortie, not 20.
Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:24
I do recall from another source that he was older than 20, but my source was Sports Car World magazine (including incorrect spelling of his surname) which of course is no great authority.
There is no denying that his Tasman adventure was a debacle, but it seems there were mitigating circumstances and I can't believe these performances spelt the end to a promising career especially considering the results he garnered in American Formula B in 1970.
I wonder whether something happened, like a career ending accident? If I understand correctly having "family backing" and "buying drives" was not as prevalent over in America compared to Europe, especially back then. Surely Formula A/5000, Can Am, Sportscar opportunities awaited a young driver with such an impressive record in the minor categories.
Maybe our American friends can shed some light!
Posted 30 December 2002 - 21:24
Posted 30 December 2002 - 22:11
I didn't realise he'd been racing as long as you say - it seems his ARRC win came in his seventh season of racing - hardly big deal!
Posted 30 December 2002 - 23:38
Unfortunately, though I don't know the circumstances, I have seen references to the late Mike Eyerly.
He certainly dominated Formula B in the U.S. for those two seasons though. It's a lower level pro series, but his stats for single season and consecutive seasons rank among the best for any U.S. series.
And despite racing production equipment for some seasons before, that's a remarkably quick transition to single seat machinery.
Posted 31 December 2002 - 00:02
1595 Evergreen Ave NE,
(There are only five Michael or Mike Eyerlys listed in any US phone book.)
Who's going to ask him?
Posted 31 December 2002 - 03:00
It's happened before...