Five decades have passed since the mysterious Shadows first turned a wheel in motorsport. The brainchild of Don Nichols and his company, Advance Vehicle Systems, these fascinating, highly experimental race cars have a strong legacy in motorsport that started in Can-Am but later expanded to Formula 5000 and Formula 1.
Now, 50 years after their debut, Road America is hosting a Shadow car reunion this summer at the annual WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman. The event, which coincides with a historic Can-Am race, will bring together 14 Shadows, including two of the three Formula 5000s and one of the 12 Formula 1 racers.
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Of coarse it would be next to impossible but I would love to see Can Am racing today with 1960's technologies as the upper limit. Everything has gotten way too sophisticated and way too expensive.
To hear those big block Chevy's thunder around road America, sit on the grass at the start of the long straight, eat some brats and quaff a few Old Styles while basking in the Wisconsin July sun it couldn't get any better.
Great piece of history of a great story - Can Am. If someone "sitting in their basement" with time (and money) on their hands during this pandemic would just pull together the Rolling Thunder show again...
For those of you that have never experienced Road America and Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin, i'd highly recommend it, and the Brian Redman International Classic is a great event! Back around 2009, I was there when the featured focus was Can-Am cars - was actually part of a crew for a friend who owned and vintage raced a 1968 Lola Can-Am car - with a fresh big block Chevy in it. The heat all weekend was oppressive, but what great memories! I rode in the "other seat" in the Lola on a parade lap - we only got up to 100 mph once for a moment, but the roar of that big block right behind you was memorable! What fearsome machines these were! We all stayed at the beautiful Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake - whole town was a classic race car party all weekend - a great little resort town on a lake!!
I was able to take a 4 lap ride in the 71 Mk II owned by Dennis Losher around Sears Point at the CSRG Charity Challenge a few years back. We were right behind Fred Cziska in his 72 Mk III for a lap and a half. Quite the experience with both big blocks echoing off the k-walls!!!
I have a great book on the history of Can Am by George Levy, with Peter Biro photography, many unpublished, which really covers the story of how it happened and what happened. I was too busy to follow it at the time, although I had an idea of how neat they were. It wasn't until seeing them at retro events that I started to realize what I missed. This book brings some of it back!
Great story! I had the pleasure of working with/for Jim early in my engineering career, he was an interesting character to say the least, huge influence in how I developed professionally.
I remember him trying to sell me one of his Dodge Shadows over lunch one day, if I could turn back time....
Congratulations Jim, awesome collection, keep having fun! Mike