• The Charles Houser Collection

    Just a small one, this one. Only ten photos, unless more emerge. But what beautiful photos they are! I might have to stick Bryan Colechin (Bry3500) on the pay role, because he has found some amazing collections lately, and this is all down to him.

    This collection was taken by Craig Houser, and all centres upon Round 2 of the 1970 Can-Am Championship. This race was at the Canadian circuit St. Jovite, Quebec. As Charles’ son David explains: "A PR executive at Reynolds Aluminum had gotten dad press credentials providing full access for him to take pictures with his trusty Pentax SL.

    "In the summer of 1970 my dad made his way from an army base in California to Quebec for the Can-Am race at Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

    “Back then a military uniform and ID could get you a cheap stand-by ticket on nearly any air line and on Wednesday before the race dad had successfully made it to the Montreal airport and figured he'd bum a ride with someone else headed to the track. He asked the first person he recognized and Dan Gurney graciously offered to take him. Gurney won the season opener at Mosport two weeks earlier driving the dominant McLaren M8D.

    “Dan's a really personable guy and they talked about drivers behaving badly in rental cars, how seriously a driver should examine a spin (or other close call) and the intricacies of club and pro racing. Dan went on to win the race, his last win in the top ranks of professional auto racing and after the race he agreed to take dad back to airport”.

    This race was held on June 28, 1970, less than one month after McLaren owner and leader Bruce McLaren had been killed testing one of his new M8D Can-Am cars at Goodwood. Just a few days prior to Bruce’s death, team mate Denny Hulme suffered severe burns to his hands in a fire at Indianapolis. In a typically brave move, Hulme put the good of team ahead of his own wellbeing, and despite the obvious pain and discomfort, raced at the opening round at Mosport, on June 14, while Dan Gurney was drafted in as his team mate, in both the Can-Am and Formula 1. Gurney’s time with McLaren was brief; just three Can-Am races and three F1 races, before he left, due mainly to complications through his personal sponsor, Castrol, being a competitor of Gulf, who sponsored McLaren.

    But while he was there, Gurney won two of the three Can-Am races he entered, including this one at St. Jovite. He qualified on pole, while team mate Hulme, still suffering from his burns, sat alongside. On row two were Jackie Oliver in the impressive Ti22 Autocoast, designed by Peter Bryant, and which had shown up well upon its arrival late in 1969. Next to Oliver was Lothar Motschenbacher in one of the Team McLaren M8B’s that had dominated the season before.

    On row three was John Cordts in a McLaren M8C, Bob Brown in the ex-Gurney McLeagle, followed by Peter Revson in the stubby Lola T220, and Jerry Titus in a McLaren M12, while George Eaton in the BRM P154 and George Follmer in the mad little Shadow rounded out the top ten.

    The race itself was a procession, despite the opening half lap suggesting it could have been a classic. Off the start, Oliver really took it to the two orange McLaren’s, and latched onto the rear of Gurney and Hulme, until they reached the infamous ‘hump’, at which point the two McLaren’s went up, and dropped back down, while the Ti22 went up, and kept going, as the air lifted its sharp nose up and over, eventually landing upside-down, in a blaze of fibreglass and titanium. Following cars dived every-which-way, two piling into each other, and the only real threat to McLaren was gone.

    Gurney let Hulme go ahead, but Hulme’s motor began overheating, and after a couple of pit stops, he retired. Gurney drove off into the distance, until his engine also began overheating, and he had to nurse it to the finish, with a fast closing Motschenbacher reeling him in quickly towards the end, but ultimately finishing 11sec back. Eaton was next, albeit two laps down, followed by Brown and Roger McCaig in another McLaren.

    * Please visit David Houser's own blog site at: http://www.beaterblog.com/p/davids-garage.html

    The rest of the collection can be viewed here > >

    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Charles Houser Collection started by Steve Holmes View original post