|Vic Elford's Shadow leads Mark Donohue's Penske Porsche at Laguna Seca in 1973|
Sports car racing’s booming popularity following WWII resulted in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the CASC (Canadian Automobile Sports Club) founding the Can-Am Series for Group 7 type sports racers in 1966. Armed with sponsorship from Johnson Wax, the Can-Am Series was the best paying racing series in the world.
As a result, it attracted the best of the best in the world of international auto racing. Formula One world champions John Surtees, Jody Scheckter, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart, and Mario Andretti and Indy 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Mark Donohue, and Parnelli Jones all participated in the Can-Am Series at one time or another.
On October 16, 1966, the first Can-Am race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca featured Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Donohue, Hulme, Surtees, George Follmer, Jones, and Sam Posey on the grid. Hill gave Chaparral its only Can-Am victory at this race in 1966. The following season, McLaren won the Monterey Grand Prix Can-Am Race. Donohue won the last Can-Am race held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1973.
Can-Am cars will be a popular group at the inaugural Spring Classic at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 19-21. The Can-Am Series held races at the iconic circuit from 1966 to 1973. The guttural rumble of Can-Am cars from an “anything goes" era of motorsports delighted enormous crowds watching from the hillsides during its heyday.
“The Can-Am group is a popular one for fans and participants alike as they represent the true definition of win at any cost," said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “These cars retain their characteristic look and certainly sounds and they are a welcoming site in their spiritual home."
The 1966-1974 Can-Am group is one of nine race groups featured at the Spring Classic. The others are 1967-1972 Formula B, 1973-1984 SCCA Production GT Cars, 1966-1972 Trans-Am, 1973-1979 Formula Atlantic, 1966-1972 Trans-Am 2.5 Liter, 1983-2007 World Sports Car – Le Mans Prototype, 1979-2006 Historic Stock Cars, and 1967-1984 Formula 1. Two-wheel enthusiasts can also enjoy historic motorcycles making exhibition laps each day.