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mosport-1971-06-13“A racing incident.”

Exactly the kind of shitty excuses we would never endure again. That, at least, was what we expected when implementing the new approach to the business.

No more shimmy appearances on forgotten back rows of grandstands. But a team owner proudly boasting in a garage box.

It was the kind of shifting realities the RICO-act of last year brought along. No longer do we hide our business in the obscure confinement of smoky anterooms and desolate alleys. In these days, it is up to the blinding white light of pristinely legitimate businesses to mask the true nature of our activities. Such as the highly respectable business of running a racing team. An activity generally considered to be the largest money burner in the world. While we claimed to have become overnight millionaires on the backlog of a racing team. Out of thin air. But trust the assembled Feds, State Troopers and Sherriff Departments to not wonder one second about that.

Spending some 110,000 dollars to convince that daft Piëch to sell one of his babies to the non-entity our shell company basically is. And yet another 15,000 just to get the thing shipped over from Bremerhaven to New York. And then we were lucky that some Polish friends of ours visited the factory in Zuffenhausen. And convinced the Krauts that charging us extra for the transport from Stuttgart to Bremerhaven really was not a good idea.

Then Marcelo, the worn off Spanish walking bottle of wine we hired as team manager, managed to head out of New York with a truck. The Porsche 917PA safely stowed on it. Drunk as a lame chipmunk. And almost ended up in the Hudson. Blowing another 5,000 dollars to get the truck back on the road.

As soon as the car finally made it up to Mosport, the nagging started. That they had not asked for a Porsche 917PA, but rather a 917/10. Which had a longer wheelbase and was far more stable. As if longer dicks made for better babies.

According to our driver, a snotty kid called John Patrich Voigt, the PA felt like a tomcat chasing cats in heat. It seemed impossible for the kid to feel comfortable in the car during two consecutive laps.

The whole section between turn 1 up to the Moss Complex looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Clayton, the second turn, was the worst. The kid complained that the car went unpredictably unstable over the crest just before the bend.

“I feel like trying to shit through the eye of a needle,” the goof said.

Followed Quebec and turn 4, who were equally prone to spins and offs.

It took an entire week of intensive practice, funded by yours truly obviously, before the little shit started to get some trust in the car.

On the last day, he ran a lap or two close to Gerard Ryon in a Lola-Chevy. The Belgian was faster, but my sad excuse for a driver managed to keep up. For about a quarter of a lap at least. Even if still about 9 seconds a lap slower than the fastest drivers, he felt a growing confidence in the car.

“We will start the race at the back of the grid,” he proudly declared. “But the car is stable. And we should be able to make progress and benefit from the mistakes of others.”

I felt a growing urge to slam his nuts all the way up to his throat. A bunch of bloody weaklings betting on the even greater weakness of others is what we hired. Could we not just shift back to our former reality, I desperately wondered.

Voigt turned his own premonition into reality, starting from the penultimate position on the grid. Roughly two centuries slower than anyone else. Only polak Kowalski started behind the Porsche. But he had been hampered by electronic gizmos throughout the entire qualifying session. So my stud in the kingdom of Paddington was really dead last.

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Sabre leads the field towards turn 2 on lap 1

As the green flag dropped, David Sabre maximized on his pole position and started building on a comfortable lead. Behind, the order was pretty much maintained. Plaçais kept second in the Ferrari. Then followed Ogonoski in the Shadow and Gerard Ryon’s Lola. Before even lap 1 was completed, Ryon however challenged Ogonoski and moved up to third.

Further down the grid, all drivers behaved exemplary. Approaching the start of the race with great caution. Avoiding spins and first corner drama. It even brought one commentator to call the start “tame”.

Pretty soon however, the first sliding and spinning started. Scott Urick scattered of the track in Quebec. Jereb went wide in the Esses. Dean rolled his car in Moss, rejoining dead last.

While as my boy actually looked good for some laps. Running rather stable. Staying out of trouble. Turning the first horny juveniles getting caught by feverish eager to his advantage.

But as always, when things start to look better, it’s only to see them get crushed right before your eyes. Starting lap 5, some Italian geezer called Paparazzi or something, spun his McLaren in Quebec. Avoiding the Aussie muscle-car was obviously asking too much from my driver. Instead, he drove the Porsche straight into the McLaren. Turning the car crossways on the track. Just as wunderkind Dean came charging back from his Moss-incident. And torpedoed his dark blue missile into the object of my investment. The Porsche rolled and ended upside down. Completely destroyed. No way in hell to continue the race. Nor in heaven, by the way. With not even one tenth of the race completed, ours was over.

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Marazzi spins into Quebec. Voigt hits Marazzi and also spins. Dean torpedoes his car into the Porsche, rolling it upside down. Race over.

As the idiot made it back to the pit, he referred to the ordeal as a “racing incident.”

And the freaking old Spaniard rushed to the bastard’s aid, confirming that it was indeed nothing but a racing incident. And that there was nothing the boy could have done to avoid it.

He could have hit the brakes, maybe. Raving idiots. Or steered around the other car. Obviously too simple, that would have been. Then, they could not have called it a racing incident. A concept only racing fools understand anyway.

It did not take long before the next victims were strolling back to their garages.

In lap 10, leader Sabre prepared to lap Bruno Chacon. Their cars touched and Sabre spun off. Loosing four places in the ordeal.

Then Plaçais and Ryon engaged into a quarrel over first place. Tensions quickly blew off the handle. Ryon spun into Quebec. A chasing Plaçais could not avoid him, hit the Lola hard and lost a wheel. Third placed Ogonoski also shared in the damages, spinning off.

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The moment that changed the dynamics of the race.

Sabre was back into the lead, now with Grant Ridall’s Porsche on his tail.

Plaçais crawled his Ferrari back to the pits where huge amounts of time were lost repairing the car. His worries were far from over however.

The French driver had barely rejoined and Philippe Henrique spun his car on the fast back straight. The Ferrari had nowhere to go and hit Henrique’s McLaren head on at high speed. Pieces of bodywork flew around, both cars spinning wildly. Both the Ferrari and the McLaren retired on the spot.

David Jaques, who had stepped into one of the BRM’s last minute, replacing Swede Jacob Fredriksson, could not avoid the massive debris and was equally out of the race.

As all this went on, Ryon had fallen way back with the damage suffered in his cosy come-together with Yves Plaçais as cause.

Meanwhile, Sabre did a good job of regaining an impressive amount of space between the McLaren and Riddall’s Porsche. Grant in turn secured himself a save cushion over David Jundt, who had quietly snuck into the top three.

What had briefly looked like becoming a thrilling five-way fight over the top spots, had by lap 20 thus settled into a top three that looked out of reach for the rest of the field.

The most animated fight at this stage of the race was the one over fourth place between Steve Parker and Ogonoski. The Shadow had indeed escaped the turn tree antics without damage and Ogonoski was now charging back up the field. The Shadow closed in on Parker through the twisty first section of the track. But on the fast back straight, Parker’s Lola managed to speed away.

Lapping back-markers was never gonna be an easy thing at Mosport, and as the leaders set to it, the running order slightly changed. Jundt did a better job of lapping slower drivers. Also helped by the power of the massive Chevy-block in the back of his McLaren.

Riddall’s Porsche missed a lot of that power, and Grant thus had a much harder time making it passed some of the back-markers. Which allowed Jundt to successfully make a move for second.

With just over a quarter of the race ran, the running order was now:

  • David Sabre in an unassailable lead for McLaren;
  • Jundt’s McLaren in a second spot that grew more secured with every lap that passed;
  • Grant Riddall trying to hold on in the underpowered Porsche;
  • Steve Parker using al the power of his Lola-Chevy to fend of Ogonoski;
  • Who in turn looked like patiently waiting for his time to come in fifth spot.

Ogonoski’s patience would not be set to the test for much longer. Parker blew his engine at around lap 25, allowing the Canadian driver to move into fourth. Jason Whited now followed in fifth.

It left the road ahead wide open for the Shadow to go hunting the Zuffenhausen stallion. Don Nichols’ new baby did not seem to have a hard time reeling in the Porsche. In lap 30, Porsche-driver Riddall had the back of his car stepping out on the exit of Moss-complex. Completely crushing his momentum onto the back straight. The power difference between the German engine and the Chevy big block did the rest. As Austin moved up to third, it almost looked peaceful. The Canadian started his fishing expedition to catch Jundt.

Riddall was so keen to hold on that, in the next lap, he spun, negotiating turn 4 partially sideways and partially backwards. He however managed to avoid barriers or trees, and could continue his race, now in a distant fifth spot.

The Shadow was soon on David Jundt’s tail. Where it loomed for some laps. Looking very much like a Komodo Dragon waiting for that one opportunity to inject its venom into the McLaren.

Jundt had the wisdom to read the sign of the times and, when Ogonoski made a move on the start-finish straight, did not insist. Instead settling for a safe third.

By lap 30, it was thus Sabre in a McLaren leading Ogonoski in the Shadow, Jundt in a McLaren, Whited in another McLaren and Riddall in the Porsche.

Ogonoski looked like being perfectly at ease with the very particular design of the Shadow. A design revolving around smaller front wheels that allowed for better front-end aerodynamics. But also entailed the need to carefully monitor the temperature of the front tires.

Second spot nevertheless seemed to be the end station for the Shadow-car. Sabre’s McLaren untouchably disappearing into the distance.

The relation Ogonoski-Jundt seemed inversed. The Swiss’ McLaren now looming behind the Shadow. However maintaining a safe distance from the Komodo Dragon.

With half the race distance covered, things seemed to settle at the top in that order. Sabre pulling away further and further and, by lap 40, having lapped the field up to and including Ray Riddall’s Lola in seventh place.

The remaining thrills mainly came from people’s misfortunes.

On lap 43, Bruno Chacon spun his March on the fast back straight. He neatly managed to stay out of the way of Ogonoski, Jundt and Whited who all stormed through. Then, as the track seemed clear, he slowly pulled up to speed again. Just as Grant Ridall was screaming his Porsche over the crest. The German car had nowhere to go and smacked hard into the back of the March. Ridall’s race was over. Porsche left Mosport empty-handed.

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It felt like a nuclear bomb exploding when Ridall hit Chacon.

Watching the replay I could see Bruno had some trouble down the back straight and was getting out of the way of other drivers. That’s great! But did he have to rejoin there? Just over the bump? Then to stay on the racing line? Going 180 down the back straight, I couldn’t even see him for a heads up beforehand.” Was an initial comment from the British Porsche-driver, clearly stemming from understandable disappointment. It did however not take the fast gentleman long to admit that, in essence, it was a racing incident. And the ordeal was closed without further suite.

Adam Hackman dully took over the final spot in the top 5.

Around lap 50, Petr Hlavac catapulted his car into the barriers. Destroying it completely and being very lucky to walk away uninjured.

With about twenty laps to go, the Shadow team decided to put some live back into the race. Ogonoski closing the gap with Sabre from about 30 seconds down to below 20 second. For a while, it looked like we might still get a sprint to the checkered flag.

Lady Tragedy then decided to have an eye out for David Jundt. In lap 61, the Swiss’ McLaren approached the damaged car of Juha Bos. The Belgian’s car going very slowly with heavy damage. On the run up to Moss, Jundt hit the back of the yellow McLaren. Spun his car and got hit by Whited head on. Jundt’s car lost a wheel and crawled back to the pits, from where it rejoined in eight position.

Whited could continue and inherited third. Hackman and Jereb were now respectively fourth and fifth. Only the top three was still on the same lap.

Ogonoski was meanwhile again reducing the gap with Sabre. Whether this was down to the Shadow being faster or rather Sabre just taking no risks with a large lead secured, remains somewhat of a guess.

Whited had a big moment on lap 73, spinning off backwards in turn one and hitting the barrier. There was no serious damage however and the American held on to the final podium place.

Ogonoski continued to reduce the gap with Sabre, bringing it down to around 17 seconds at some point. But Sabre kept his cool and brilliantly managed his race to take victory in the first race of the season.

With three more McLarens in third, fourth and fifth spot, the expected McLaren stranglehold over the series seems to confirm itself. There however seems to be one thorn in the Aussie team’s side. Ogonoski’s Shadow who, without his mishaps in the opening laps, might as well have won the race.

Furthermore, in the opening stages, Ryon’s Lola and Plaçais’ Ferrari equally seemed up to the challenge. Only clod knows how their races might have ended without their early bad luck.

The series thus looks like becoming quiet more competitive than appearance would have it.

Broadcast of the full race is here.