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What killed F5000?


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#1 Peter Bramwell

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 01:57

I grew up in New Zealand, and recall my earliest single seater observations to have been the last of the 2.5 Climax-powered cars mixed with 1.5-litre Gold Star cars (other than the once-a-year Tasman teams). I confess that arrival of Formula 5000 was unbelievably exciting as they could literally shake the grandstands.

In Australia, where I now live, V8 Supercars have swept all before them in a sedan series that has replaced single seaters as the country's premier title. The crowds still love the sound and fury of the big American V8s. Why then did F5000 wither on the vine?

I recall being told years ago by a driver that the costs of converting to Cosworth power in F2 chassis were even higher, and the engines didn't last as long, so was there something else driving the change? I still think such cars would be a crowd pleaser, and help pull down team costs if a sensible formula for modifying today's production EFI V8s was devised.

If I was to ask anyone, I'd ask here first...

Best wishes to all

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 04:36

In Australia, almost the last bastion of the F5000 cars (America went to enclosed bodywork... still F5000, but looking like sports cars), the touring cars of which you speak were the problem.

And the people driving the TV coverage, I think you'll find.

It was easier to sell sponsors if they had tin-tops, cars that the dealers sold... that the dealers could be associated with in the advertising, etc. And they could count on more crashes...

The cars were cheaper, too. But you're right, with the engines of the touring cars, the F5000 cars of today would be mighty quick machines.

#3 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 07:07

In the U.S., it was the promoters. They were sure the magic name "Can-Am" would bring in the kind of crowds that series did in it's heyday...and in comparison, at least to them, the F5000 crowds were disappointing.

Dan Gurney and Carl Haas were very upset over the decision to end F5000 in favor of a "new" Can-Am.

And, I agree, it was a shame.


Jim Thurman

#4 David M. Kane

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Posted 24 March 2002 - 14:26

The practical side of racing has never appealed to racing fans. For the most part they are not concerned about the cost of the show. People eventually get bored with things and want something new. Formula Holden
car, for example, are fantastic cars to drive and to maintain. However, they appear to running out of steam and will go away very soon.

If you go to a Historic races these day F5000 are extremely popular with the fans. Distance makes the heart fonder.

To address the specific question, it was all about sponsorship...always
has and always will be.

The Chevy short block might just be the best race application of a stock block motor ever.

#5 Vicuna

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Posted 31 March 2002 - 09:07

The practical side never appealed to fans??

Hello!

The crowds loved, and love, 5000's in NZ and Australia. The thing that killed it in NZ was the absolutely awful reliability of small block Chevvies in the early - mid '70's.

Formula Holden and Formula Pacific/Atlantic never did, and never appeal for the simple reason that the cars have no sex appeal.

5000's had sex appeal in spades. Single seater racing, other than Formula Ford, has simply never recovered in the Antipodes since the demise of F5000.

#6 Option1

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 22:17

Originally posted by Vicuna
The practical side never appealed to fans??

Hello!

The crowds loved, and love, 5000's in NZ and Australia. The thing that killed it in NZ was the absolutely awful reliability of small block Chevvies in the early - mid '70's.

Formula Holden and Formula Pacific/Atlantic never did, and never appeal for the simple reason that the cars have no sex appeal.

5000's had sex appeal in spades. Single seater racing, other than Formula Ford, has simply never recovered in the Antipodes since the demise of F5000.

Sorry Vicuna, I have to disagree with you. I can't (and don't think many of us can) speak for all fans, but for myself I found the F5000s boring and somewhat primitive.

There's no doubt that the single greatest cause of the death of F5000 was the switch of the media's attention from open wheel to tintop racing. (As an aside, why does this sound so similiar to what's happened in more recent times in the US?)

Additionally, at the time the F5000's popularity was still at it's height in Oz the rest of the world had moved on. The F5000 cars were beginning to look out of date compared to the modern GP cars. This was best demonstrated when Walter Wolf brought a (or was it 2?) F1 car(s) out and ran it (them) at a couple of F5000 races. For me, the Wolf (Wolves?) looked stunning and modern - something the F5000 didn't - and they were quicker!

At least the Formula Atlantic/Holden cars looked like race cars should. Again, IMO they were (and are) far sexier than some cobbled together F5000 and it's giant lump sitting in the back.

In essence, the F5000's time had come and gone, and the world moved on.

Now if you want to regret the passing of areas of motor racing then to me there's much greater sadness in the demise of some of the great sportscar formulae!

Neil

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 23:52

No argument there!

But I think you overstate the F5000 case... you must have missed the best of it.

There was an Ensign along with the Wolf racing against the F5000s that year, by the way... and in my opinion the F5000s were not disgraced.

The Chev engine, though originially produced in 1955, must be about the best ever production based engine to go into a racing application. No, don't tell me the 105E Ford and derivatives surpasses it, the Chev gets by with fewer modifications on a pro rata basis.

#8 Vicuna

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 01:19

F5000 had a place in time like Can Am - no doubt.

Boring - of course a lot of the racing was boring. Apart from Formula Ford MOST SINGLE SEATER RACES ARE BORING.

But that's not the point - an F5000 out on it's own, and well driven was exciting to watch - they were bloody handfuls.

Atlantic/Pacific's just like F.Holdens suffer from the same problem - too much tyre and downforce for the power of the engines. They would be great to drive but even when they're dicing, they're not on the ragged edge.

An FHolden looks like something you or I might be able to drive at 7/10ths.

But a 5000 - you'd need pills the size of a planet.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 01:40

Absolutely... they suffered from having a diff just a bit too small for the application, that must have cost them a lot of money over the years...

The sight of Warwick Brown bringing the McLaren M10 B out of Paddock Bend onto Pit Straight at Warwick Farm in a power slide par excellence is an enduring memory... lap after lap...

Or Max Stewart dancing the Elfin through corners, making it slither like a snake...

A F5000 coming over Lukey Heights at Phillip Island is a sight not to be forgotten either... any of them as long as they are on a quick lap. Tippy-toeing on full droop as they crest the rise, no noise at all as they have backed off to avoid wheelspin, then a quick blast of the power and instantly settled and on the brakes.

I wouldn't have minded seeing a later model one tilting at windmills around Lakeside either.

#10 fines

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 12:29

Originally posted by Ray Bell
A F5000 coming over Lukey Heights at Phillip Island is a sight not to be forgotten either... any of them as long as they are on a quick lap. Tippy-toeing on full droop as they crest the rise, no noise at all as they have backed off to avoid wheelspin, then a quick blast of the power and instantly settled and on the brakes.

A quick blast of power? C'mon, that must've been the blip for the downchange! There's not enough room to accelerate from the crest, is there?

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 14:45

That's an accurate description, fee-nes... true in every detail.

Maybe I need to post a photo to show how much room there is?

Posted Image

Take my word for it, fee-nes... there was a brief moment of dig-it-in "V8 to tyres - cop this!" power application.

#12 Allen Brown

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 18:10

I've been thinking about this question and my thesis is that the Lola T330 killed F5000.

Until the T330 blew away the competition in 1973, there had always been four or five manufacturers to choose from. But after that, the competition vanished from F5000.

1968: Eagle, Lola, LeGrand and McKee
1969: Eagle, McLaren, Surtees, Lola and McKee
1970: McLaren, Surtees, Lola, Lotus and Leda
1971: McLaren, Surtees, Lola and Lotus
1972: Surtees, Lola, Leda and Matich
1973: Lola, McRae, Chevron, March and Trojan
1974: Lola, Talon and Eagle
1975: Lola
1976: Lola

Let me support that with some evidence. In 1972, six manufacturers had scored top-3 placings in US rounds (Lola 6, Surtees 5, Leda 4, Chevron and McLaren 3 each and a F1 March with 2). That's a very healthy level of competition and it would have been a factor in encouraging March, McRae, Chevron and Trojan into production in 1973. But that was the year of the T330 and only three manufacturers managed top-3 placings that season (Lola 18, Trojan 6 and Chevron 3). In 1974, with the T332 adding insult to injury, it was just 2 (Lola 18, Eagle 3). In 1975 it was four (Lola 23, Shadow 2, Talon and Eagle 1 each) and the same in 1976 (Lola 15, Shadow 4 and March and Eagle 1 each).

If you look at top 6 placings, the story is much the same, Lola taking just 42% of the placings in 1972 but 69% in 1973, 74% in 1974, 72% in 1975 and 74% in 1976. Of 192 top-3 placings from the T330's first appearance until the demise of F5000, the T330 and its derivatives took 125 of them. The next best was the Shadow DN6/DN6B with 10.

Not exactly a one-make championship but getting that way.

And, in case you're wondering - and even if you aren't :yawn: - the Lola T330 and its derivatives (the T330/T332 upgrades, the T332, the T332-chassised T400 hybrids and the T332C) were responsible for 424 of 894 race starts from 1973 to 1976. The second highest was its predecessor, the Lola T300, with 68 then comes the March 73A (and its derivatives) with 59.

As the manufacturers fell away, so the number of cars being built each season fell away: from a first peak of around 80 in 1969 and a second peak of around 60 in 1973, the overall production total fell to about 40-45 in 1974, 20-25 in 1975 and around 15 in 1976. Why buy a new car when an old T330 or T332 is still the best car?

With only manufacturers and hardly any new cars, competitors started to drift away and the end was inevitable.

In Australia and New Zealand, far from sources of Lolas or of Chevys, the local Matich, Begg and Elfin machines kept things interesting a little longer. But not by much.

Allen

#13 fines

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 21:11

Not sure how fast they would've been over the crest, but the right-hander can't have been much faster than 60mph - did they have carbonfibre brake discs, or what! :eek:

#14 David McKinney

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 05:41

Interesting theory Allen - and I'm very impressed by all those numbers :)
But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the other constructors pull out because they could see the formula was failing, leaving only Lola to satisfy the dwindling demand for new cars?

#15 Vicuna

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 08:48

Interesting theory about the Lola T330/332 being responsible for the demise of F5000.

If anything it should have made the formula stronger - ie competitors didn't have to make a decision about Lola or Chevron, or Lola vs March etc.

These days it's how things run - F3000 for example is a one chassis formula. Coincidentally they are Lola's.

Graham McRae, who would vie with Brian Redman and Peter Gethin as the best F5000 driver of all time, once told me that the Lola T332 was a brilliant customer car. He reckoned his GM2 was quicker, but a Lola was far more forgiving.

I think you could say Porsche killed Can Am, I don't think Lola killed F5000 despite the statistics.

Really, McRae and Trojan only ever built 5000's while March never did a dedicated one. Surtees and McLaren adapted F1 designs so only Chevron and Lola ever offered a '5000' as part of a model range. Chevron built one B37 but by then it was nearing the end.

Did F5000 die in the mid '70's? Or did it just grow mud guards and get called Can Am?

#16 Allen Brown

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 12:39

Originally posted by Vicuna
Really, McRae and Trojan only ever built 5000's while March never did a dedicated one. Surtees and McLaren adapted F1 designs so only Chevron and Lola ever offered a '5000' as part of a model range. Chevron built one B37 but by then it was nearing the end.

Trojan built McLaren's production cars, including Can-Am, F5000 and F2, and later built F5000 and F1 cars under their own name. March did dedicated F5000 designs in 1973 (based loosely on the 732 I think), 1974, 1975 (based on the F1) and 1976 (based on the F1 again). Surtees and McLaren based their designs around F1-derived tubs but they were definitely production cars. You could equally say that Lola's T300-T332 series were based on the F2 T240. Aren't most production designs based on something that came before?

Originally posted by Vicuna
Did F5000 die in the mid '70's? Or did it just grow mud guards and get called Can Am?

Very true. The cars themselves lived on as Can-Am cars but I was referring to the F5000 concept which definitely died.

Originally posted by David McKinney
Interesting theory Allen - and I'm very impressed by all those numbers
But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the other constructors pull out because they could see the formula was failing, leaving only Lola to satisfy the dwindling demand for new cars?

That's what I thought at first - my initial thesis was that the T332 killed F5000. But when I looked at that 1973 season (when McLaren and Brabham also started designs and Parnelli and Penske laid initial plans for cars), it was clear that manufacturer competition in F5000 was already dying before the T332 hit the tracks. So it had to be the T330 that did it. The 1974 and 1975 seasons were high points in terms of the teams and drivers involved in the series so I don't think it was clear then that the series was failing. Demand seems to have remained high but that just had the effect of keeping second-hand T332 prices high.

Allen

#17 Mac Lark

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 22:02

I don't think you could ever say that March built a dedicated F5000 car - Chevron's B24 looked like a big B25, March's 73A was a 732! Or near as damn it.

I can't recall anything in the Lola range that resembled a T330/332/400/430.

Could another reason for the demise of F5000 be that they simply became too quick for the circuits on which they most often raced - ie Castle Combe, Lakeside, Pukekohe?

#18 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 22:15

Surely the relatively uncomplicated truth of what killed Formula 5000 is an unhappy combination of such facts as:

1 - paying spectators in sufficient quantity everywhere proved relatively hard to find.

2 - promoters therefore grew progressively more interested in other, seemingly more attractive, classes of racing, and diverted funds into other categories.

3 - costs of running stock-block engines really hard proved prohibitive for too high a proportion of interested entrants, so they sought decent start, prize and bonus money in alternative forms of racing (see where the promoters reinvested their money above).

4 - as fewer manufacturers of competitive machinery chased a smaller market, purchase prices had to rise to compensate for diminishing return, extinguishing demand.

Today Historic Formula 5000 should work a treat, shouldn't it???? - engines are relatively inexpensive - not being run so hard for so long they should survive longer between costly rebuilds -relatively ready supply of eligible cars generally exceeds demand - yet we can't sell an Historic F5000 car for anything approaching the value such on-track performance should command....and still it hasn't taken off.

Perhaps these great grumbling high-built bolides are just - after all - unutterably naff?

DCN

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 06:27

Originally posted by fines
Not sure how fast they would've been over the crest, but the right-hander can't have been much faster than 60mph - did they have carbonfibre brake discs, or what! :eek:


Fast enough for the suspension to be on near full droop...

I was there, I can vouch for this. One of the better days of a bloke's life... seagulls rising in unison from the Southern Loop as the assembled grid shook and the roar of the Chevys, Repco Holdens and the lone P76 rose to a crescendo milliseconds after the clutches bit.

Michael, they had no carbon fibre discs, but they did have room to haul the speed back.

By the way, I'm talking to KB tomorrow and will raise this subject, and that about the part the T330 had in the death of the formula. I'll probably talk to Frank shortly afterwards, but I'm unlikely to be able to reconnect between now and then...

Nevertheless, if anyone has specific questions for KB or for Frank, let me know, I might get KB himself to answer them here... he is on the net and has looked at TNF before.

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#20 Darren Galpin

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 07:47

I don't think that F5000 cars became too fast, at least not at Castle Combe. They ran a BOSS formula race at Castle Combe before it grew chicanes, and these were way faster than F5000 was (50.4s for a Tyrrell-Judd in the dry, 58s in the wet - and the wet time was almost a new lap record!).

#21 Allen Brown

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:33

Originally posted by Mac Lark
I don't think you could ever say that March built a dedicated F5000 car - Chevron's B24 looked like a big B25, March's 73A was a 732! Or near as damn it.

I can't recall anything in the Lola range that resembled a T330/332/400/430.

But what counts as a dedicated design? The 73A looked like the 732 but March hardly built a new design after the 712 - it was the basis of the 721G which was the basis of the 731, the 741, the 751, the 761, the 771 and the 781. Not to mention the 722, 732, 742, 752, 762 and 772. The B24 was similar to the B25 but did not share a tub. The Lola T300 was basically a T240 with a Chevy in the back, and that formed the basis of the T330, T332 and T332C. The T400 was significantly different, as was the T430.

I think I've lost track of what I'm trying to say here! I agree the 73A was not a uniquely new design but at least it was a production run of cars specifically intended for F5000. What I was trying to do was distinguish this from modified Indy or F1 cars such as Brack's Lotus 42B or Cannon's March 72A, where the car came from the factory but was in effect a one-off special. And I was only attempting that distinction as a way of measuring how serious a manufacturer was about F5000.

You must remember that English is not my first language - I'm originally from Birmingham.

Allen

#22 Darren Galpin

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 08:53

But that's still closer to English than Geordie or Scouse......

#23 Peter Bramwell

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 12:32

Today Historic Formula 5000 should work a treat, shouldn't it???? - engines are relatively inexpensive - not being run so hard for so long they should survive longer between costly rebuilds -relatively ready supply of eligible cars generally exceeds demand - yet we can't sell an Historic F5000 car for anything approaching the value such on-track performance should command....and still it hasn't taken off.
Perhaps these great grumbling high-built bolides are just - after all - unutterably naff?


Thanks Doug,

Not really what I wanted to hear, of course, but true just the same.:cry:

I can't support the idea that they were naff but the paying punters will always decide in the end, so I will have to enjoy the recollections, and get the chills down my spine when I see a good one raced or demonstrated again. Sometimes I just like to hear a racing engine roar, rather than scream.

#24 fines

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 15:39

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Nevertheless, if anyone has specific questions for KB or for Frank, let me know, I might get KB himself to answer them here... he is on the net and has looked at TNF before.

Oh yes, ask Kevin about his USAC "career"! As I have it, he drove Marvin Webster's Eisert/Ford at Sonoma/Sears Point and Castle Rock/Continental Divide in 1970, retiring both times. Was this one of Frank Harrison's former cars? And what about the engine, I believe it wasn't a standard Ford device, was it a Gurney stock-block? He also drove Lloyd Ruby's backup Mongoose/Turbo-Ford at Ontario, again retiring, and tried, unsuccessfully, to qualify both the Webster Eisert and George Walther's Morris/Ford at Indy. He must have a few stories about these ventures!

#25 Don Capps

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 16:46

I think that there were many, many small, medium, and large pings, bops, and blows which saw Formula A/ F5000 go to join the angels in defunct series heaven.

The climate of the Times did not help, even the once mighty Can-Am gasped it last, Trans-Am was on life support and nearly slipped away (which mihjt have a blessing in some ways since it hasn't quite been the same since...), and the top dogs were IMSA and NASCAR, with USAC and SCCA being looked upon as perhaps being on borrowed time as Players.

The lack of there being any ability to market the series effectively and promote it had to have been a frustration ot many inside the SCCA and the F5000 community. It is noteworthy that coverage of the series in the house journal, Sports Car, was never what you would expect, often being completely absent in the later years. USAC was not much better.

The dominance of a single team after the 1972 season just made a bad situation worse.

Plus, the benefits of sponsorship in the series seemed to evade any potential sponsors when none of the major motoring monthlies devoted much attention to it.

The existence of many other problems with the SCCA (and USAC) left the series as not a priority when plugging holes and solving problems.

That USAC decided to stick with its current formula (circa 1938 as modified in 1957 an fiddled around with in the meantime...) and dissolve its partnership with the SCCA with merely a reflection that the series seemed to exist in some limbo, despite the well-meaning and well-intended efforts of those with both organizations.

Plus, the advocacy of stockblock engines was not what it once had been. The siren song of the stockblock lost some of its charm when it was recognized that how little "stock" there was to a "stockblock" engine, even the blocks not being quite "stock." And the good engines were anything but "cheap" -- especially in terms of contemporary costs.

Plus, when USAC dropped out, could the Championship Trail and the F5000 really co-exist in a nation where premiere open-wheeled racing was at best shuffling along, and barring the Indy 500, largely ignored?

No real villians or Blue Meanies, just a series that either couldn't evolve or didn't evolve fast enough. One of those cases that the Racing Darwinists like to trot out as an example of being merely good is not enough.

I liked F/A, F5000 and tried to attend as many races as I could. But it was apparent in the last few seasons that much was not going well for the series. The formats were often confusing, many of the teams struggling, the heart and the mind struggling....

I was sorry yo see it go. I could never quite bring myself to like the Can-Am II series for reasons I could never quite articulate. I tried a few races, but something never quite grabbed me. By the time I actually began paying it any real attention, it was into its death slide. And I was now firmly into the CART series.

I have always thought that the color scheme on the Carl Hogan-Malcolm Starr team cars that John Cannon drove, the Eagle in 1969 and the McLaren in 1970, are among the best ever to grace a racing car.

I also think that although F5000 died, much of what was good in the series -- the teams, the drivers, the people -- formed the basis of the CART movement and the re-introduction of the Championship Trail as it was meant to be: a real test of a driver's ability to drive on a wide variery of circuits such as ovals (large and smaller), road courses, and street circuits.

#26 Mac Lark

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Posted 11 April 2002 - 03:32

So Don, what was this great colour scheme on the Carl Hogan car?

Any chance of a photo?

#27 Ray Bell

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Posted 12 April 2002 - 02:30

Wasn't that a stars and stripes pattern, though not as garish as the Ron Grable car?

KB confirms that the power was on briefly before hitting the brakes for MG... he also says of the F5000 days, "everybody could buy something for a 5000."

Michael, I will start a fresh thread for his USAC comments.

Frank Gardner comments on the T300/330/332 cars next week...

#28 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 April 2002 - 08:29

Finally had a chance to get to this, though my comments will probably prove anti-climactic :) ...

I wouldn't say F5000 was "naff" (as a matter of fact, "naff" is a new one to me. I need a British/American translation, though can I assume based on it's usage that it roughly translates to "rubbish"?)...maybe in Great Britain, F5000 was "naff", but obviously it provided great open wheel single seat road racing in U.S. and the Antipodes. For example, while F5000 in Great Britain was almost always short on fields and, to be honest, quality, the California Grand Prix at Ontario Motor Speedway attracted a huge field (something like 60 cars), many of which were quite good cars/teams/drivers. Only over the last couple of seasons did the U.S. grids seem to break into front runners and backmarkers. The midfield runners that were of good and quite equal quality seemed to disappear (yet the inaugural Long Beach GP and any race at Laguna Seca and Riverside seemed to draw great fields, both in terms of quality and quantity).

In the states, F5000 was the great lost formula and showed much promise and caused a good bit of excitement. Autoweek certainly covered it well, as did, I believe, Formula Magazine.

As far as Allen's comments about the lack of variety helping to doom it, I tend to agree, because there was talk that the SCCA didn't want to run a series with one engine manufacturer and one chassis builder. Supposedly that was also a consideration, but the track promoters themselves are the ones that wanted to resurrect the magical name of Can-Am.

As my brother said back at the time, "They didn't want a series with one engine maker and one chassis maker, so they put fenders on them and call them Can-Am...how is it any different?"

It's also interesting the USAC/SCCA joint sanction. That seemed to accellerate it's failure. Looking through the entries, it's strange which Champ Car team/drivers attempted to race in F5000. Seeing Bobby Unser's turbo Eagle at Riverside was a spectacular sight, but the few other attempts at running the then unsuitable Champ Cars on road circuits, proved very un-spectacular .

Driver wise there was Al Unser (who was a very good road racer), brother Bobby (a decent road racer), Johnny Rutherford (who was an ok road racer), Gordon Johncock (adequate), John Martin and Dick Simon (who had road racing experience) and then the absolutely befuddling mysteries of Tom Sneva and Mark Alderson, two drivers definitely out of their element in road racing (Alderson raced Sprint Cars). Lloyd Ruby also made an F5000 start, and he was vastly underrated as a road racer. And obviously, Mario was there. Strange who from the Champ Car ranks decided to try F5000. If the interchange would have worked out as well as hoped, it only would have increased the attention and coverage. Same for running F5000 on ovals (a few were "invited" to run with the Champ Cars at Phoenix). Some even think a stock block engine formula might have been adopted by USAC. So, who knows what would have happened.

When I get to it, I'll try posting some of the highlights of Autoweek's coverage of the meetings that spelled the end to F5000.

The decision to cease F5000 even made it to the sports wire for U.S. newspapers, no mean feat in itself!


Jim Thurman

#29 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 00:13

Frank Gardner's view on the death of F5000, basically from a European viewpoint:

"F5000 was too fragmented for Bernie to control, so he chose to promote F3000 instead." End of story.

Emphatically he denies the Lola dominance... and he had some really interesting things to say about the development of the T300 and its successors, the formula as a whole and the reasons why it succeeded so well in Australia etc.

This formula was, he says, "a great learning formula, a great driver's formula!"

Of course, Frank never looked on as a spectator, but he also reckoned they were good to watch.

Now, can anyone tell me what meeting at Hockenheim saw him win in the Camaro, F5000 and a McLaren sports car... all in the one day?

And Jim, I hope you get to it sooner or later...

#30 eldougo

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 11:59

:eek: "F5000 was too fragmented !!!
Now that,s the real truth if it could have been made into a world
series it could have taken on the F1 an that was not good for MR E.

#31 Allen Brown

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 17:58

Originally posted by Ray Bell
"F5000 was too fragmented for Bernie to control, so he chose to promote F3000 instead." End of story.

Huh? F5000 effectively died at the end of 1976, limping on in Australia only. F3000 didn't start until 1985 and that was to replace F2.

I really don't think Bernie had anything to do with the demise of F5000. I don't think he even knew it existed. His rise to power was really in the late 1970's and through the '80s.

Allen

#32 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 20:39

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Frank Gardner's view on the death of F5000, basically from a European viewpoint:

"F5000 was too fragmented for Bernie to control, so he chose to promote F3000 instead." End of story.

Emphatically he denies the Lola dominance... and he had some really interesting things to say about the development of the T300 and its successors, the formula as a whole and the reasons why it succeeded so well in Australia etc.

This formula was, he says, "a great learning formula, a great driver's formula!"

Of course, Frank never looked on as a spectator, but he also reckoned they were good to watch.

Now, can anyone tell me what meeting at Hockenheim saw him win in the Camaro, F5000 and a McLaren sports car... all in the one day?

And Jim, I hope you get to it sooner or later...


I have a friend who is the world's number one Frank Gardner fan. He has compiled a list of all (or most of) Frank's races and there is no one day at Hockenheim that saw him win three races in those cars.

He raced a Brabham BT23 there in 1967 (1st & 2nd), a McLaren M4A in 1968, a John Wolfe Racing McLaren M6B later in 1968 (retired), A Lola T190 (2nd & 3rd) and the Boss Mustang (1st) in 1970, a Lola T300 in 1971 (two 1sts), a F2 Lola T240 later in 1971 (retired) and he gave up single-seater racing at the end of 1972 so it can't be after that.

#33 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 22:14

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
I wouldn't say F5000 was "naff" (as a matter of fact, "naff" is a new one to me. I need a British/American translation, though can I assume based on it's usage that it roughly translates to "rubbish"?)...maybe in Great Britain, F5000 was "naff"


Not quite 'rubbish' Jim, but unsophisticated, of a lesser class, somewhat common, demeaningly production based, not a 'proper' single-seater racing car class designed in every respect as such, something being portrayed as being better or more significant than that which it actually merited...

In contrast to the screamers of Formula 2, for example, in which graded drivers could be seen competing wheel-to-wheel with newboys, old farts and rising stars alike, in the UK and Europe F5000 was perceived by many as being the preserve of has beens, never will bes and never wases.

The interesting thing is that amongst the never will bes we featured Mike Hailwood, whose real class suddenly emerged after years of not taking 4-wheels sufficiently seriously and he began to strut in F5000, F2 and F1 alike. But precious few other F5000 runners achieved as much...even sometime F5000 King Peter Gethin did not aspire to great class in F1, though he won a GP which is more than Mike the Bike managed.

You are absolutely right that the positioning of the Formula and its perceived image would have been very different here at headquarters in contrast to its perceived image out there in the colonies... :wave:

DCN

#34 cabianca

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Posted 11 May 2002 - 04:57

The comments above about the Lola are partially correct. In the US what killed it was Brian Redman and the Lola in combination. Just like Mark Donohue and the 917/30 killed the original Can Am. The attraction of top-line single seater racing is usually based on high technology. Single seaters based on what you drove to work behind didn't really light the fire of most US open wheel enthusiasts. The formula did have one brief, shining moment in the States. Mark Donohue's F5000 car ran with the leading Formula 1 cars, in both heats, while it lasted at the Questor Grand Prix at Ontario Motor Speedway. To say the Europeans were shocked is an understatement.

#35 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 May 2002 - 00:57

Originally posted by Milan Fistonic
I have a friend who is the world's number one Frank Gardner fan. He has compiled a list of all (or most of) Frank's races and there is no one day at Hockenheim that saw him win three races in those cars.

He raced a Brabham BT23 there in 1967 (1st & 2nd), a McLaren M4A in 1968, a John Wolfe Racing McLaren M6B later in 1968 (retired), A Lola T190 (2nd & 3rd) and the Boss Mustang (1st) in 1970, a Lola T300 in 1971 (two 1sts), a F2 Lola T240 later in 1971 (retired) and he gave up single-seater racing at the end of 1972 so it can't be after that.


Hence my question...

I'm well aware that Frank's descriptions of events and dates are always subject to closer scrutiny. But perhaps it is just the circuit that is in question... so we are looking, perhaps, for a day he won in a tin-top, F5000 and McLaren... this latter car being a David Hobbs (?) entry that Frank took over because the original driver was sick.

As for his retirement from openwheelers, there was one case where he came back to drive a Lola so he could win a title that ran across all categories... is that catered for there?

Allen... are we looking here more at Aurora than F3000? The expansion of a second-string F1 series is where the conversation ran, and though (again) Frank mentioned specifically F3000, he may well have meant its predecessor.

#36 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 13 May 2002 - 05:10

Originally posted by Ray Bell


As for his retirement from openwheelers, there was one case where he came back to drive a Lola so he could win a title that ran across all categories... is that catered for there?


That's right Ray, after the Tasman Series at the begining of 1972, Frank gave away single-seaters until October when he debuted the new Lola T330 at Brands Hatch. By finishing third in that race (and first in the saloon car race with the Camaro) he won the Tarmac Championship and the two thousand pounds first prize.

The other driver in contention for the title was Roger Williamson who had scored most of his points in the Formula Atlantic class but ran a Kitchmac-Chev in the last two F500 races in a desperate last minute bid to catch Gardner.