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David Hobbs in the Hogan Racing McLaren M10B at Seattle in May 1971, scene of the second of his five 1971 wins.  Copyright Jim Culp.  Used with permission.

SCCA L&M Formula 5000 1971

David Hobbs had been one of the quickest drivers in US Formula 5000 in 1969 and 1970, but had only done two half-seasons for Surtees. In 1971, he was poached by Roger Penske to drive Penske's Goodyear-shod sports car and Indy car teams, and that necessitated a move from Surtees' Firestone team for F5000. Penske convinced Carl Hogan to employ Hobbs in place of 1970 champion John Cannon, and Hobbs would drive the same McLaren M10B that had taken Cannon to the 1970 title. Trojan had a new car, the McLaren M18, but this turned out to be no improvement on the M10B. Surtees brought out the Surtees TS8, and Sam Posey led their US efforts. As usual, Lola had outsold everyone and seven Lola T192s were on hand at the opening race of the season.

Hobbs was on pole for the opening race but his clutch failed on the pace lap, and Australian visitor Frank Matich took a surprise victory in his McLaren M10B with Repco Holden mill. Hobbs dominated the next two races, taking pole and leading every lap, but Posey then won at Mid-Ohio after a great scrap with the Englishman. Posey was the quicker in qualifying at the next two races as well, but Hobbs won the races to tie up the title with two events still to go. Brett Lunger then gave Lola their first win of the season at Donnybrooke after Hobbs' engine failed, and the final race of the season ended with a fitting Hobbs-Posey 1-2 finish.

With the ban on tobacco advertising on TV coming into force at the start of 1971, there was a scramble to use major sporting events as a way to promote cigarette use. RJ Reynolds attached their Winston brand to NASCAR's main championship, Marlboro sponsored the USAC championship, and L&M picked up the SCCA's Formula 5000. As safety became a major concern in motor racing through the 1970s, the irony of the major championships' role in promoting one of the main killers of men in America was lost on many.

The races

25 Apr 1971 > Riverside Grand Prix

02 May 1971 > Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

23 May 1971 > Seattle Grand Prix

05 Jul 1971 > Mid-Ohio Grand Prix

18 Jul 1971 > Road America Grand Prix

01 Aug 1971 > Lucerne "100" at Edmonton

15 Aug 1971 > Minnesota Grand Prix at Brainerd

06 Sep 1971 > Lime Rock Grand Prix

1971 L&M Continental 5000 Championship table

1David HobbsMcLaren M10B - Chev V8115 pts5 wins
2Sam PoseySurtees TS8 - Chev V870 pts1 win
3Brett LungerLola T192 - Chev V864 pts1 win
4Eppie WietzesMcLaren M18 - Chev V859 pts 
5Jim DittemoreLola T192 - Chev V841 pts 
6Frank MatichMcLaren M10B - Repco-Holden35 pts1 win
7Ron GrableASD American Mk 1 - Chev V830 pts 
8Gregg YoungSurtees TS7 - Cosworth DFV28 pts 
9Lothar MotschenbacherMcLaren M18 - Chev V826 pts 
10Bill BrackLotus 70 - Chev V823 pts 
11Gerard RaneyEagle Mk 5 - Chev V821 pts 
12John GunnEagle Mk 5 - Chev V820 pts 
13Skip BarberMarch 701 - Cosworth DFV
March 711 - Cosworth DFV
18 pts 
14Jerry HansenLola T192 - Chev V817 pts 
15Evan NoyesMcLaren M18 - Chev V810 pts 
16=Jack EiteljorgLola T192 - Chev V89 pts 
16=Horst KrollLola T142 - Chev V89 pts 
18=Merle BrennanMcLaren M10A - Chev V88 pts 
18=Monte SheltonEagle Mk 5 - Chev V88 pts 
20Pete LovelyLotus 49B - Cosworth DFV6 pts 

The points table is derived from Wolfgang Klopfer's excellent Formula A and Formula 5000 in America p50.