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Formula 5000

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#1 Elio

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Posted 05 January 2000 - 19:31

Can you tell me something about the Formula 5000 history?
Were the cars current F1?
Was it a world wide championship?
When was it started and how many years lasted?
Pictures are wellcome.


#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 January 2000 - 04:34

The closest F5000 came to having a World title was to become the formula for the Tasman Championship - 7 or 8 races in Australia and New Zealand from 1970. The cars continued as the main open-wheeler formula in Australia only (NZ went Atlantic) until 1980, so the final developments in the formula were made in Australia.
Early cars like the McLaren M10 and Surtees were essentially F1 cars with Chevys stuck in the back.
They had bigger gearboxes than F1 of the time, and usually 15" wheels when F1 was on 13s. By 1972 the more specialised cars were more successful. Lola T300s then 330s world wide, and in Australia the Matich and Elfin models.
There were series in England and US (as Formula A), including the Can-Am, with a later abberation in the latter where they fitted enclosed bodies.
One of the very fastest F5000 cars was John McCormack's McLaren M23, which he fitted with an all-alloy Leyland P76 engine (which had its roots in the Olds/Buick alloy V8 as onsold to Rover, but with a taller block), and it ran all the F1 wheels and gears etc. It was simply stunning in fast corners alongside the cars carrying the heavier iron-block engines.
I have a very soft spot for the cinquelitre monopostos.

#3 Racer.Demon

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Posted 12 January 2000 - 07:47

Don't know much about the Antipodean state of affairs, but here's a list of F5000 champions from both sides of the Big Pond. From it, you'll get a good idea of the time span and the sort of cars they ran. As Ray mentioned, they were essentially F1 cars with Chevy stock-block engines stuck in the back, before special designs were introduced (like the Chevrons and Lolas, Graham McRae's Leda, etc.), leading to spiraling costs, thus pushing out the privateers. Now there's a familiar pattern...

European Formula 5000 Championship (in fact a British series)

1969: Peter Gethin (GB), Church Farm McLaren-Chevrolet
1970: Peter Gethin (GB), Church Farm McLaren-Chevrolet
1971: Frank Gardner (AUS), Speed International Lola-Chevrolet
1972: Gijs van Lennep (NL), Speed International Surtees-Chevrolet
1973: Teddy Pilette (B), VDS Chevron-Chevrolet
1974: Bob Evans (GB), McKechnie Lola-Chevrolet
1975: Teddy Pilette (B), VDS Lola-Chevrolet

These are the McLaren M10s, Surtees TS11 and Lola T332s Ray is talking about. Other typical F5000 guys included Ian Ashley, Mike Hailwood and Kiwi Graham McRae. There weren't all jolly gents driving for fun, though. Keke Rosberg also meddled with F5000 before hooking up with Teddy Yip. BTW, did you know Cooper's last design was meant to be a F5000?

North American Formula A/Formula 5000 Championship

1967: Gus Hutchinson (USA), Lotus-Chevrolet
1968: Lou Sell (USA), Eagle-Chevrolet
1969: Tony Adamowicz (USA), Eagle-Chevrolet
1970: John Cannon (CDN), McLaren-Chevrolet
1971: David Hobbs (GB), McLaren-Chevrolet
1972: Graham McRae (NZ), McRae-Chevrolet
1973: Jody Scheckter (ZA), Trojan-Chevrolet/Lola-Chevrolet
1974: Brian Redman (GB), Lola-Chevrolet
1975: Brian Redman (GB), Lola-Chevrolet
1976: Brian Redman (GB), Lola-Chevrolet

Formula A was the formula British F5000 was copied from. It had close ties with the closed-wheel CanAm series.

Incidentally, a F5000 car won a F1 race once: Peter Gethin - probably the ultimate British F5000 racer - took an incredible win in a wet 1973 Race of Champions, on board his Chevron-Chevy. The irony of it was that it also showed F5000 cars, which used to be big, unwieldy dragsters, weren't that far apart from F1 cars anymore. When that point was made, the sense of having the formula suddenly wasn't there anymore.


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#4 Elio

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Posted 12 January 2000 - 16:39

Ray and Racer.Demon,

Thanks a lot, now it´s clear what was the F5000. I'll go through magazines of that time to see if there was any coverage of them in Spain.

Best wishes for the new year.

#5 Stephen Herbert

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Posted 13 January 2000 - 09:34

Elio, I know of a F5000 race in Spain. The 1969 Madrid GP held at Jarama was billed as an F1/F5000 race and was won by Keith Holland in an F5000 Lola T142.