Team Surtees started running Lola T70’s in sports car races in 1965, for 1966 the teams proprietor, 1964 World Champion, John Surtees ran a Chevrolet Mk II spyder variant, chassis #SL71/17, in the Canadian American (Can Am) Challenge winning the inaugural Can Am race at St Jovite from pole with the car.
Surtees retired from the next couple of Can Am races with a broken oil pipe and then after a start line accident at Bridgehampton and Mosport respectively. At Laguna Seca the team had a new chassis #SL71/43, today’s featured car, which he qualified 7th but retired for a third time after 92 laps with suspension damage.
John Surtees returned to chassis #SL71/17 at Riverside where he qualified second and won, 1962 World Champion and 1966 Indy 500 Winner Graham Hill was drafted into chassis #SL71/43 and came home third from 5th on the grid in the cars final appearance for Team Surtees.
Surtees went into the final round of the 1966 Can Am Challenge at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas sharing the series lead with 1961 World Champion Phil Hill who was driving a Chaparral 2E.
Despite qualifying 4th behind Jim Hall on pole with his Chaparral team mate Phil Hill beside him and Chris Amon in a McLaren Elva in third, John Surtees forced his way through to the lead on the opening lap. John did not relinquish that lead for the entire 70 lap race and so secured the inaugural Can Am Championship.
Chassis SL71/43 was acquired by George Ralph for 1968 his best results with the car were two 11th place finishes one in the USRRC Championnat Nord-Americain race held at Mont-Tremblant from 17th on the grid and the other in the Road America Can Am race from 21st on the grid.
Current owner Paul Knapfield is seen driving the car at the 2011 Goodwood revival in these photo’s.
My thanks to Tom RA Announcer Schultz for kindly visiting his den to dig out the chassis details of today’s featured car from his copy of Lola T70 – The Design, Development & Racing History Hardcover – December 1, 2012 by John Starkey and Franco Varani.
Thanks for joining me on this “The Surtees Hill Lola” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !