• 1978 Australian Grand Prix For Formula 5000 Cars

    Without wanting to overdo the Australian theme (having posted the 1980 Aussie Sports sedan race just recently), I just had to post this beautiful piece of footage from the 1978 Australian Grand Prix, for Formula 5000 cars.

    Like many great categories of the 1960s and ‘70s, Formula 5000 (or Formula A as it was known in its home-land) was an American creation, dreamed up by the Sports Car Club of America, who, by 1967, were already enjoying steady growth with their Can-Am big-bore sports car series, and Trans-Am sedan series. Wanting a professional road racing series for open wheeler cars to complete the set, they formed the grandly named SCCA Grand Prix Championship, which was split into three classes, based on international FIA regulations, and determined by engine sizes. Formula C was for cars up to 1,100cc, Formula B up to 1,600cc, and Formula A up to 3,000cc (effectively Formula 1).

    Its first season (1967) was not a success, Formula A in particular was poorly supported, and the SCCA made the smart decision to expand the engine capacity in the big class to 5,000cc, for stock block engines. Given the accessibility and affordability of stock block V8’s in the US, and the ready source of tuning companies able to race prepare them, Formula A established itself in 1968, and quickly gained popularity with racers throughout the country, and with it, race car manufacturers offering an array of chassis’.

    Great Britain soon embraced Formula A (under the name Formula 5000, as it would become known elsewhere throughout the world), and created their own F5000 championship in 1969, which would hold rounds throughout Europe. Four F5000 cars were sent from the US to Bay Park Raceway in New Zealand in late 1968, to compete in a non-championship event, and such was their popularity, and apparent affordability, F5000 was established in NZ, from the 1969/70 season. The formula also spread into South Africa, and, finally, Australia, by 1971. In just three short years, F5000 had become a global phenomenon.

    However, it wasn’t to last. Availability of the American V8 engines into Europe by the early ‘70s, combined with the weakened pound, meant that numbers began to dwindle in England, and by 1976, F5000 was being amalgamated with domestic non-world championship F1 cars. In New Zealand, rising costs of buying and maintaining F5000s eventually made the formula too expensive, and by 1976, only a handful of cars were still competing in domestic events.

    In the US, the SCCA Can-Am and Trans-Am categories were struggling by 1974. The Can-Am was ended after the ’74 season, while the Trans-Am saw a mass-exodus of factory teams, and increased competition from the newly formed IMSA. In a desperate attempt to rekindle some of their earlier success, the SCCA announced Formula 5000/A would end following the ’76 season, and Can-Am resurrected, only as F5000 cars fitted with single seat sports car bodies.

    Only Australia persevered with F5000, until 1981, and many of the worlds F5000 cars found their way there.

    F5000 races were invariably processional affairs, with the cars chronic frailties often providing the only uncertainty as to the final result after the first dozen or so laps. But they were so charismatic, many forgave them of this.

    This piece of footage, provides great insight into how incredible these cars were, when driven at 100% commitment by talented (and brave) gladiators, many of whom would suffer at least one major shunt in one of these machines during their careers, and on circuits lacking the safety standards to deal with them.

    Parts 2 and 3 can be found here: http://www.theroaringseason.com/show...mula-5000-Cars
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1978 Australian Grand Prix For Formula 5000 Cars started by Steve Holmes View original post