Don Brown’s Can-Am Photos
Burnin’ Rubber • by Mike Blanchard | Don Brown was a big fan of cars. He was also one of the more successful lobbyists in Sacramento. He was known around the halls of the Capitol as the Big O and he was a good guy. Brown recently passed away and left behind a lifetime worth of photos and posters and memorabilia related to cars and car racing. He also left some cars but that is another story.
Brown liked all kinds of racing, he left behind photos of stock cars, sports cars, Formula-One, Formula 5000, Can-Am, sprint cars, motorcycle flat track racing. And he was a solid photographer to boot. I have no idea what kind camera he used but the slides are Kodak Ektachrome. These slides were rescued from the garbage can as his family cleaned out his house. We will be dropping groups of Brown's photos, each of a different type of racing, over the next few weeks as a tribute to the Big O, a race fan and photographer.
This group of slides are from the Riverside round in 1972. Can-Am was arguably the baddest most wide open racing series of the twentieth century and it produced cars that are still considered the rawest, fastest cars ever made. Missiles like the Porsche 917, the McLaren M8 and M20, the Lola T70, Chaparral and Shadow thrilled fans and scared the crap out of drivers. Can-Am or more correctly, the Canadian-American Challenge, ran from 1966 to 1974 and Riverside, out east of Los Angeles, was a staple of the series.
The series featured two races in Canada and four in America, thus the name. It was for unlimited engine sizes and was pretty much a run-what-you-brung free for all. It was finally killed by Porsche’s incredible 917-30. The things made somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 horsepower and with George Fulmer and Mark Donohue driving they were all but unbeatable. Add that to the reality of the times, the oil crisis, mounting pressure for safety and insane cost. By 1975 it was game over.