Tag Archives: Westlake

Dan’s McLeagle – McLaren Chevrolet M6B # 50-10 (Trojan)

The inaugural Can Am Challenge run in 1966 had been a huge successes with four different drivers winning the six races, two of them world champions, and Lola winning 5 of the races with Chaparral winning the other. For 1967 the complexion of the series would change completely as what became known as the Bruce and Denny steamroller gathered momentum with the Traffic Yellow McLaren M6’s.

Denny Hulme won the opening 3 races of the series leading team owner Bruce McLaren home in the second and third. Bruce then won the forth and fifth rounds by which time Bruce and Denny had secured first and second places in the championship. At the last race of the 1967 Can Am season the Traffic Yellow steam roller came to a temporary if grinding halt when Bruce and Denny both retired to leave 1966 Can Am champ John Surtees to take a consolation victory in his one year old Lola T70 MkII.

For 1968 Bruce McLaren stepped his team up another gear with the McLaren M8, while offering a production version of the previous years winner known as the M6B which was manufactured by Trojan, the same company that had once built bubble cars under licence from Heinkel and taken over the Elva racing car business, prior to building production versions of the Mclaren M1.

McLaren Chevrolet M6B, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Dan Gurney, who won the second race in the inaugural 1966 Can Am Challenge with his Ford Powered Lola T70 MkII, decided to replace the aging car with a McLaren M6B for himself and a Lola T160 for his team mate Swede Savage, both cars remained Ford small block (under) powered running with Westlake heads for the 1968 season.

To try and beat both the works Chevrolet powered McLaren M8’s and the customer M6B’s run by Penske for Mark Donohue with Chevrolet Power and the Ford 427 cui big block powered Shelby McLaren M6B of Peter Revson and the Motschenbacher Racing Enterprises example driven by Lothar Motschenbacher Dan’s All American Racers (AAR) team embarked on a continuous programme of development centered mostly on the M6B #50-10 featured today.

As well as lightening the M6B with exotic materials as used in the Eagle Formula One programme they continually upgraded the body work.

McLaren Chevrolet M6B, Goodwood Festival of Speed

AAR missed the opening round of the 1968 Can Am challenge where 1967 World Champion Denny Hulme led his countryman and team mate Bruce McLaren home in yet another Traffic Light Yellow walk over. At the following race run at Bridgehampton Denny and Bruce both retired with broken motors having started 1st and 2nd on the grid leaving Mark Donohue to win in his Chevrolet powered Penske M6B from Jim Hall in his Chaparral 2G.

Motschenbacher came home third in his Ford powered M6B ahead of Swede Savage in the small block Ford powered AAR Lola T160 which had started just 17th. Dan qualified 6th and finished 6th on his debut in the M6B. The Bridgehampton result would remain the teams best finish of the season as AAR experienced a variety of ills including chronic unreliability from the underpowered Gurney Westlake developed motors for the remainder of the 1968 season, Gurney and Savage even swapped cars for the last two races of the 1968 season with no appreciable difference in the results.

Denny and Bruce McLaren again topped the points standings this time Denny was Champion with three wins to the single win for Bruce. Mark Donohue finished the season third with one win. Canadian John Cannon won at Laguna Seca to score the only Can Am win in the now three year old McLaren M1B model at Laguna Seca.

McLaren Chevrolet M6B, Goodwood Revival

For 1969 Dan persevered with just the #M6B-50-10 which was by now so heavily modified it became known as the McLeagle, the reliability of his motors did not improve and midway through the season he missed a couple of races in order to install a big block Traco Chevrolet. Ironically when Dan returned to the fold with his M6B at Michigan his Bow Tie power developed an oil leak in practice and he ended up taking Jack Brabham’s intended drive in a third works McLaren M8B alongside Denny and Bruce.

Having failed to set a time in practice Dan started from the back of the field and finished third behind Bruce and Denny in a 1-2-3 finish for the McLaren team. At Laguna Seca Dan was back in his own car in which he qualified 4th but retired with a blown piston. Dan’s best ever result driving #50-10 after nearly two seasons of trying came at Riverside where he qualified fifth and came home 4th.

Dan skipped the last round of the 1969 Challenge at Texas motor speedway and ended the season equal 11th in the standings with Mario Andretti who had driven a Holman Moody entered M6B powered by a big block 427 Ford. The Challenge title went to Bruce McLaren who won six races of the expanded 11 race series with team mate Denny Hulme winning the remaining five races in what had been another Traffic Yellow wash for McLaren.

McLaren Chevrolet M6B, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Dan sold the #50-10 to Bob Brown for the 1970 Can Am Challenge, Bob also scored a couple of 4th place finishes which with 3 other minor points finishes in the further modified car was enough to secure 9th in the Challenge table.

With the death of Bruce McLaren in a testing accident at Goodwood, before the 1970 Can Am challenge got under way, Dan was drafted into replace the McLaren team founder and ended up winning the first two races of the season while Denny Hulme was driving with severely burned hands received while practicing for the Indy 500. Denny went on to win six of the remaining 1970 Can Am races to secure his second Can Am title and Mclaren’s third consecutive title.

By 1971 Dan had retired from race car driving, while Bob Brown soldiered on in #50-10 scoring a season high 6th place finish at Mosport. Bob sold the car onto RS Enterprises for the 1972 season during which Frank Riemann and Dave Causey were entered into at least three events Causey finishing a best 16th in the Can Am round held at Donnybrooke.

#50-10 is known to have been driven by Jigger Sirois in the Can Am race at Road America in 1973 and by Bob Svast at Road Atlanta in a US Champions event in 1974, from which the car was retired on both occasions. The car has been restored to it’s high wing 1969 spec as seen in these photo’s, taken at Goodwood last year, with owner Andy Boone at the wheel.

My thanks to TNF’ers raceanouncer2003 Vince H, for enlightening me about the development of today’s M6B and Gurney’s Lola T160 and to kayemod Rob for showing me a tin of the Traffic Yellow 11040 LR Rylands Polyester Colour Paste used to pigment the works McLaren fiber glass body work.

Thanks for joining me on this “Dan’s McLeagle” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a McLaren M8 C/D. Don’t forget to come back now !


Ford’s Only CanAm Race Winner – Lola Ford T70 Mk II #SL71/34

For the up coming inaugural 1966 Canadian American Challenge All American Racers took delivery of a new Lola T70 Mk II chassis #SL71/34 for which was powered by a 5 litre / 305 cui Ford Westlake V8 motor. The car was driven by Dan Gurney alongside the team’s 1965 Lola T70 Mk I chassis #SL70/10 which was run for Jerry Grant.

Lola Ford T70 Mk II, Goodwood Revival

After qualifying 9th for the inaugural Can Am race at St.Jovite Dan’s challenge got off to a poor start, because he did not start due to engine problems which manifested themselves during practice.

Lola Ford T70 Mk II, Goodwood Revival

At the next round held at Bridgehampton things improved with a start from pole position which Dan translated into, what turned out to be, the only win for a Ford powered car in the entire history of Can Am. Extraordinary given Ford’s persistence in tackling and winning Indy, Le Mans and an eventual decade and a half of dominance in Formula One.

Lola Ford T70 Mk II, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Dan started the following race at Mosport from pole but retired with ignition problems, at Laguna Seca Dan started 4th but retired with a cracked engine block. Dan’s bad luck continued at Riverside where he qualified 6th but retired with a clutch issue. At the Challenge finale held at Stardust international Raceway in Las Vegas Dan qualified 9th and retired with a broken fuel tank.

Lola Ford T70 Mk II, Goodwood Festival of Speed

It is probably just as well Dan did not follow Jerry Grant’s lead by emptying the contents of a revolver into the car at the seasons end.

Thanks for joining me on this “Ford’s Only CanAm Race Winner” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a US built vehicle that took part in the 1966 Can Am Challenge. Don’t forget to come back now !


Like No Lighter You’ve Known Before – Eagle Mk 1 #AAR104

The story of the Eagle Formula One car began when the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company asked Carol Shelby and Dan Gurney founders of All American Racers Inc to build an Indy 500 challenger with which to compete against Firestone shod Indy cars. Part of the deal included the go ahead to build a Formula One car “to represent the U.S.A.”

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Donington Museum

Shelby and Gurney turned to Len Terry to produce a design for a chassis that met both tasks. Terry had been responsible for the design of the Lotus 38 which Clark and Gurney drove in the 1965 Indy 500 which had been convincingly won by Clark who led 190 laps from pole. The Mk 2 was a Ford V8 powered Indy car, while Mk 1 was the Formula One variation featured today which was to be powered by an Aubery Woods designed V12 that was to be built at Harry Westlake’s premisses in Rye, Kent, England.

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Goodwood Revival

The chassis for both program’s were manufactured at All American Racers premises in Santa Ana, California with the complete Formula One chassis being sent on to a new shop Gurney had set up close to Harry Westlake’s premisses in ‘the ancient pirate town’ of Rye and operated by Anglo American Racers. The Westlake V12’s were only ready midway through the season and to get there project underway Gurney drove his Eagle with a slightly undersized Coventry Climax four cylinder motor.

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Donington Museum

The origins of the 3 litres / 183 cui Westlake V12 lay in a 500cc /46.25 cui 2 cylinder motor that Aubery Woods had built for Shell Oils funded research project. Gurney heard about the motor from his former BRM colleague Woods and had the motor built with a budget of US$600,000 by Westlake. Westlake’s facilities were a little on the primitive side using military surplus tooling that dated back to the 1914/18 Great War. However despite poor interchangeability of parts from one motor to the other they were more reliable than some of the ancillaries including the electrics and fuel pumps. There was a design flaw in the oil scavenging system which was discovered too late in the development of process that sees the sump fill up with oil during the course of a race which causes a steady loss of horsepower.

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Goodwood Revival

The first three Mk 1 chassis built from aluminium, but the forth car seen here was built with the extensive use of titanium and magnesium alloy in an effort to reduce weight. Gurney commented that driving the 104 was like “driving a Ronson cigarette lighter” as magnesium alloy is exceptionally flamable.

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Goodwood Revival

Just one week after his victory in the Le Mans 24 hours with AJ Foyt with whom he shared a Ford Mk IV, at the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix Gurney qualified AAR104 on the front row next to Jim Clark in his Lotus 49. Clark led the race until he needed an unscheduled stop to change his spark plugs. Jackie Stewart starting from sixth took over the lead while Gurney also had an unscheduled stop to cure a fuel pressure problem. Gurney resumed in second place when Stewart’s car developed a gear box problem. With 8 laps to go and breaking the 8 year old Spa Francochamps lap record Gurney swept into the lead and the first Grand Prix victory by an American driving and American car since Jimmy Murphy won the French Grand Prix driving a Dusenberg in 1921. He also started the habit of spraying champagne during Grand Prix victory race celebrations, having done so for the first time at Le Mans a week earlier.

Eagle Westlake Mk 1, Goodwood, Festival of Spee

At the German Grand Prix Gurney led and set the fastest lap again when his car retired with half shaft failure with 3 laps to go. That fastest lap on Europe’s most challenging circuit was particularly satisfying. Dan’s only other finish in ’67 was 3rd in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Running out of money the AAR team continued into 1968 at the Nurburgring again, but this time in the fog and rain Gurney had another satisfying if unrewarding drive having recovered from last place after a puncture to a season best, indded only, ninth finish for the Eagle. During that race Gurney became the first man to wear a, Bell, full face helmet in a championship Formula One race.

The Eagle Mk 1 appeared for the last time at the Italian Grand Prix where Dan qualified 12th, but retired with an overheating motor. AAR acquired a Ford Cosworth powered McLaren M7A with which to compete in the last three races of the 1968 season, scoring a best 4th place finish in the US Grand Prix.

Note: The Eagle Mk 1 is often referred to as the Eagle T 1 G which was Len Terry’s designation for the design.

Thanks for joining me on this “Like No Lighter You’ve Known Before” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t for get to come back now !