This was March's first production F5000 car, following the relative success of the 1972 F2-based car. March records say six were built and five of these can be seen in contemporary race results: the US-based cars of Gunn, Barber, Lazier and Hutchison and the UK-based car of Baker. March records say the sixth car was supplied as a kit.
The 73As have not had straightforward careers. The Skip Barber car multiplied and exists at least twice over; and the Gus Hutchison car also split, leaving one F5000 car and F1 car. At least one other 73A found its way to Jock Topin's Ecurie Santos and he later sold a total of around five cars to Ray Gibbs, including two that may be 73As and two that may be 72As.
My thanks to Wolfgang Klopfer, Mike Engstrand, Chuck Haines, Greg Wold, Roger Cowman, Mike Duncan, Terry Healy, Marcus Pye, Paul Wilson, Steve Bay, Russ Neice, Pete Klain, Kevin Drew, Nick Smith, John Henderson, Deane Tank, Graham Collins, Peter Dunn, Murray Sinclair, Bill Wiswedel, Eric Haga, Peter Brennan, Harry Read, Anthony Corin, Steve Tillack, Alan Degasis and others for getting these histories so far. Especial thanks to Adam Ferrington for supplying March's factory records for the 73A.
All and any help would be gratefully received. Please e-mail Allen at email@example.com if you can add anything.
Built for 1973 season (white). John Gunn: raced in US 1973, US 1974 (last race September 1974) - Les Hudelson mid-1974: raced by John Cannon US for the two Californian races in October 1974. Car then "put away"; retained by Hudelson in storage for nearly 20 years - Greg Wold (Maple Grove, MN) about 1993: restored to 1973 specification over next six years; raced in the SVRA series 2002. To Nick Smith (San Diego, CA) Feb 2007. To Roger Williams (New Zealand) Jan 2010. To Clark Proctor (Auckland, New Zealand) later in 2010 and raced in the Tasman Revival series in 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15. Raced by Proctor at Hampton Downs in January 2015.
New to Gene Mason Racing for Skip Barber to race in the 1973 US F5000 series. Ready for the first race, at Riverside in April, but the car was well off the pace and retired. Barber managed fourth in his heat at the next race but a lap down, was only tenth in the final. After retiring from his heat at Michigan, and then another dismal performance at Mid-Ohio, Barber skipped the Watkins Glen race while suspension changes were made. The car did not reappear and was returned to March.
It was not seen during 1974, but reappeared in 1975 for John Cannon to drive. It had been updated with side radiators and a 1975-style nose, but was still effectively the same car that Barber had raced. The car was still well off the pace and still unreliable, so the team skipped Road Atlanta and reappeared for the high-profile Long Beach GP in September with a heavily modified car incorporating a new monocque and some 751 parts.
The original monocoque was stored and is now a separate car, described below as 73A/2(A). With the identity of this car now splitting, the new car is covered below as 73A/2(B).
The remains of one of these cars stayed with the Cannon family for many years. In 2004, Michael Cannon sold a tub and bodywork from 73A/2 to Paul M. Wilson (Los Angeles, CA). The car came with the original 73A/2 chassis tag and is green with a yellow stripe, matching the livery of the car prior to Long Beach 1975. So it appears the 'new' Cannon car - i.e. the second one described in period as '75 AM' and listed below as 73A/2 (B), can be dated from Long Beach 1975.
Rebuilt in 2004 by John and Graham Collins Fabrications (Santa Ana, CA). Collins continued to prepare the car for Wilson through to 2011. Graham reports that the tub has been reskinned and new suspension built as the car has been developed. Raced by Paul WIlson at Road America July 2013, at the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at IMS in June 2014, and at Road America in July 2015.
A new car built by former March F1 and F2 team manager Ray Wardell for John Cannon's team and first seen at Long Beach in September 1975, entered by John Lane. Autosport described it as having a March 73A tub and "a selection of 751 bits". The survival of the tub from the early-season green-and-yellow car shows that this Long Beach car must have been built on a new monocoque. This could have been a 732 or 73B monocoque as these are very similar, but a 722 is also plausible. Given the shape of the car, a F1 731 tub is very unlikely.
After the US series, Cannon took the car out to Australia F5000 Internationals in February 1976 where it was described as:
'March 75, AM: March Formula 1 Chassis built 1975 as spare to works team. Sold to Cannon and modified in USA to take Chev engine. Used last year in US Formula 5000 championship' (1976 Surfers Paradise program p7)
As the US series did not start until May, Cannon then had time to compete in the opening races of the 1976 British series, where he was run by Richard Oaten Racing. The car was then described as:
'The March, sponsored by John Lane, was cobbled together "from a box of bits. I don't suppose March even know of its existence." It features a new 1973 F1 monocoque 1975 F1 front suspension, 1976 F1 bodywork, and "our own back end."' (Autosport 18 Mar 1976)
Cannon then returned to North America and raced the 73A/751 at Watkins Glen in July. It was rented it to Don Breidenbach for Road America later than month, and to David Purley for Mid-Ohio in August. Cannon then drove it at the two remaining races at Road America and Riverside. It was entered for the 1977 Australian series but was crashed while testing in California in January 1977. Parts were used on another "duplicate", car for 1978, described below as 73A/2 ©.
Following Cannon's testing accident in California in January 1977, he was unable to attend the 1977 Rothmans series. The US series had been cancelled but Cannon's team built up another March in time for the 1978 Australian Rothmans series. This "new" car was described in press material as:
Re-built replica of successful March 73B brought to Australia by Cannon in 1976. New chassis with no number. Believed to be ex Vittorio Flammina [sic] chassis used in American F5000 races in late 1976. Not used during 1977 as Cannon did not contest Can-Am series with this car. Some body panels from original 73B that was crashed in testing accident in January 1977 in California. (1978 Surfers Paradise program p36)
It is unlikely to have been the "Flammina" car (i.e. the 76A) as that had a completely different chassis shape. The "73B" notation is also incorrect, as that was a Formula Atlantic car. However, we can believe that it was a new car, replacing the earlier 1975 '75 AM'. The donor tub is not possible to trace at this point, but as it was described as a duplicate of the 1976 car, it is likely to have had a 1973 chassis, so a 732/73A tub. This car should probably be regarded as '75 AM/2'.
Cannon finished third in the opening race, at Sandown Park, but retired from the other three races. The car was left in Australian by Cannon after the series and was acquired by Graham 'Tubby' Ritter (Melbourne, Australia) who dismantled it to use its engine, gearbox, corners, wheels, brakes and instruments to convert Ritter's ex-Dave McKay Ford Capri RS2600 into a ‘Sports Sedan’, an Australian libre class of saloon racing. As the March was only in Australia on a temporary import licence, the monocoque of the March was combined with a VW transmission and other parts to resemble a racing car, and shipped to an address in Auckland, New Zealand, for potential sale, with instructions that it should be crushed if it was not sold. With its compoents scattered, this March effectively ceased to exist at this point. The Capri was fitted with a twin-turbo Holden engine by Ritter, and had been sold to Jim Keogh by 1980. Keogh was in the process of transferring the ex-March running gear onto a Zakspeed-style Ford Mustang when the rules changed and he dropped the project. The running gear was later acquired by Ray Gibbs (East Malvern, Victoria, Australia), and may have contributed to his recreation of the last Cannon car.
Built for 1973 season (yellow). Gus Hutchison (Dallas, TX): raced in US 1973; presumably formed basis of '73A/741' first seen October 1974. As the original 73A monocoque is now being rebuilt into a complete car, this car must be regarded as having split when it was rebuilt in 1974. The original 73A monocoque is listed below as 73A/3(A) and the rebuilt car with what appears to be a 74A monocoque is listed as 73A/3(B).
The "slightly damaged" 73A monocoque was listed by Gus Hutchison among the spares in the sale of his F5000 March to Geoff Davie (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) in 1975 and remained with the complete car through the ownership of Ray Reimer, John O'Hanlon, Bill Tempero and Pete Klain. Klain sold the 73A monocoque to Don Ludewig who stripped the yellow paint and according to a later owner "was thinking of standing the tub upright and putting in some shelves to use it as a bookshelf". Sold about 2012 to collector Bill Wiswedel and retained by him until sold to ex-F5000 racer Eric Haga. Haga had Marc Bahner restore the moncoque for him. Fully restored at Road America in July 2016.
Gus Hutchison rebuilt his March 73A on a 1974 monocoque at some point in 1974. The origins of the 1974 monocoque are unknown and although the car was later rebuilt as a Formula 1 741, the triangular sidepods seems to have more in common with a F5000 74A than with a 741.
Raced by Hutchison at Laguna Seca and Riverside in October 1974. Sold to Geoff Davie (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and entered by Davie-Kroll Racing for Horst Kroll (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada) in the SCCA Pro series in 1975. Raced by Davie himself in the SCCA Pro series in 1976, when it was entered as a March 741. Not used in 1977 and advertised by Davie in Autoweek 3 Feb 1978. Sold to Ray Reimer (Middlebury, IN) and used in SCCA FA 1978. The car was rebuild for Indy racing, retaining the #93 that Davie and Reimer had used in F5000, but now fitted with a 355ci Chevrolet. Used in practice by Larry McCoy at the 1979 Indy 500 when it was referred to as a "F1 car". It reappeared at Indy races later in 1979 when it was called a 'Marathon' and entered by John O'Hanlon and Wayne Woodward's O'Hanlon Racing. Now as the #75 entry, it was driven by Dana Carter and Jan Sneva but did not start a race.
John O'Hanlon (South Bend, IN) teamed up with Bill Tempero (Fort Collins, CO) for 1981 when Tempero drove O'Hanlon's McLaren M24B. The March was advertised by John O'Hanlon in February 1982, but it remained with Tempero, who coincidentally had previously owned 73A/4. Tempero sold it, in bits and still with its old 73A monocoque, to Pete Klain (Beverly Hills, MI). The complete car was sold by Klain to David W. Smith (Patterson, CA) in September or October 1987. According to Dave Kane's research, the project was sold by Smith's widow to chassis fabrication expert Marc Bahner (Newbury Park, CA). Subsequent history unknown but in December 2005, Deane Tank (Naperville, IL) had a March '741' in US vintage racing, using 751 bodywork. This is clearly the ex-Indy 500 car as it has the USAC tanks and tech stickers from 1979/80. By 2008, this car was with Mike Mallinen (Hayward, CA) and raced by him at Monterey in 2008 (as '741-1B') and 2010. In October 2012, an "ex-Stuck March 741" in identical bodywork and livery was acquired by Joe Calleja (Melbourne, Australia) from Scott Drnek of Virtuoso Performance for John Bowe to race in US vintage racing, including at Monterey in 2013. The car was then taken to Australia and raced by Bowe at Sydney Motorsport Park in May 2014. Raced by Bowe at the Mallala Historics April 2015.
Built for 1973 season (black/alum). Bob Lazier: raced in US 1973 (two races; crashed at R2 Laguna Seca 6 May 1973 and replaced by Lola T330). Rebuilt on a new tub (stamped 73A/6) and hired to Larry McNeil (Palos Park, IL) for the Road America L&M round in July. Sold to Bill Tempero who had deformable structures fitted, and raced the car in the US series in 1974. Then to Jim Gustafson (Bessemer, Michigan) and raced in US 1975. Gustafson returned with this car in SCCA Formula A in 1978, and then converted it to sports car specification and raced it in Can-Am 1979 (1 race: Road America + 1 DNS: Brainerd) and 1980 (1 race: Brainerd). Gustafson sold his car via dealer/collector Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) to Mike Engstrand (Des Moines, Iowa) in 1982. Engstrand rebodied it as a GTP, and raced it in amateur events and in the Brainerd Can-Am race in July 1984. Sold to ARCA racer David "Frog" Hall (Kansas City, MO), who took it apart but then lost interest and sold it on to Chuck Haines in 1987. Chuck stored it in his collection, still in pieces.
During this time, the original tub (stamped 73A/4) was stored by Russ Neice (Columbus, Ohio), who worked on the car for Gustafson. He sold it to Chuck Haines to rejoin the complete car in 2005. Chuck then sold both car and tub to Anthony Corin (Centurion, South Africa) in 2005. The car was still with Anthony in Cape Town in April 2016, and planned for full restoration at some stage
Built for 1973 season (black). Clive Baker: raced in UK 1973, UK 1974. Advertised by Baker May and June 1974 and then in early 1975. To Simon Clarke (Weatherby, West Yorkshire) for hillclimbs: run at Harewood 20 Apr 1975 and at Scammonden 3 May 1975, shared with Simon's father Ed Clarke. Simon recalls that they kept the car until approximately 1978 and then he thinks they sold it "to Mick Hill in Derby where it was to be stripped down into a Skoda ‘Silhouette’ Saloon car". However, the construction of Hill's Skoda "Phoenix" for the 1979 season makes no mention of March components and Hill advertised a March 73A rolling chassis in April 1979.
Quite possibly the car advertised by Bobby Howlings (AMCO Racing) in Autosport in June 1980 which had a dummy engine, suggesting it had been used as a show car. Then the complete 73A rolling chassis "dummy engine (show car)" advertised from a Manchester number in October 1980. Also the car advertised by Lancashire wheeler-dealer John Brannigan as "March F5000 73/A No 7" in April 1983 noting that it had a dummy engine and had been used as a display.
It was sold by Brannigan to Peter Arthur (Jersey) and arrived with a bare block and empty Hewland DG300 gearbox. Mike Endean built up the gearbox but it was still a roller when sold to Rob Romeril (Jersey) in the late 1980s. It remained in storage until Romeril completed it with a 5.7-litre Chevrolet in 1999. He did not drive it but sold it to Nick Crossley (Sussex, UK) in 2000. Crossley rebuilt the car and raced it in the UK historic F5000 series in 2001. Sold to Peter Dunn (UK) July 2005. Won the Philip Island Classic in March 2007, raced by Dunn in HSCC Derek Bell Trophy events in 2009, then moved to New Zealand and raced in the Tasman Revival Series in 2009/10 but crashed at Pukekohe in January 2010, creasing the tub and requiring a new monocoque. Returned for the 2010/11 series and again two years later for the 2012/13 series. Maintained for Dunn in New Zealand by Murray Sinclair.
Built for 1973 season (red). Sold to Skip Barber as a kit of spares. A tub stamped with this number is now in Anthony Corin's 73A/4, so it would appear that this kit of spares was used to rebuild Bob Lazier's 73A/4 after his crash at Laguna Seca in May 1973.
Also, Ray Allen was said to have ordered a 73A to run in the British GP (at a time when their were fanciful rumours that the GP may be held to libre rules). Just after the GP, such a car was advertised by Ecurie Santos (Jock Topin) and remained in his adverts into 1974.
By mid-1974, Ecurie Santos was advertising a "1973/74 Santos March F5000" with "95% brand new parts", an "ex-Cannon 73A" (the 72A rebuilt to 73 spec?) and a 721 "modified to accept Chev".
Early in 1975, Ashtune Race Hire (Ashton, Essex) advertised that they had a March 73A for the 1975 season. A month later, a "March F5000 built from all new parts, never raced" was advertised by Peter Vernon-Kell (London)
Other "73A" adverts include Lynx Engineering's "F1/F5000 car" in June 1977. Also possibly relevant to the story is the '1974 March F1/F5000/Libre Brand new and unused' advertised in February 1976 by Ron Beaty (Hampton in Arden) with bodywork that looks more like a 73A than a 74A.
Ray Gibbs says he bought two 73As from Jock Topin in the late 1970s. However, that number seems to have increased to four if the 725 that stayed in England is included. These are covered below.
The unknown cars
'the Hagstrom car'
Bought from Walter Hagstrom (Laguna Niguel, CA) in December 1988 by Michael Duncan. Said to be ex-Cannon, possibly '75AM'. Michael Duncan recalls:
The ex-John Cannon March F5000 I owned I bought from a Walter Hagstrom in S.Ca. It was a complete car from the roll bar forward, + the rear wheels + a pair of Morand valve covers. Not sure of the I.D. number, but it eventually was restored and ended up with Mike Yancheck in MI, and now is being offered for sale by RM Motorsports in MI.
The bodywork is clearly that of John Cannon's 1978 F5000 March, but it is unclear how that had got back to the US.
Sold by Duncan to Ernie Spada (Lake Oswego OR) about a year later. Paperwork with the car says it was sold by Duncan to Joe Carr then to Ernie Spada Jr then to Yancheck. Spada bought the car as tub, body, engine and gearbox and had it fully restored by March 1990, advertising it in October that year in Cannon's 1976 livery for $100,000. It was bought by Mike Yancheck (Romulus, Michigan) by September 1991, changed to F1-style Beta signwriting, and was raced by Yanchek at HSR Mid-Ohio in August 1993. Sold by Yanchek to Dr VJ Mallya June 2005 and held in the Mallya Collection Private Car Museum (Sausalito, CA). The collection was disbanded in 2014, and the March was sold to classic car dealer Steve Tillack (Redondo Beach, CA).
'the Kenny Smith car'
Bought as "a basic unrestored tub and some running gear" from Kenny Smith (NZ) by John Mackinlay (Auckland, NZ) in 2001. Like so many March F5000s of this period, it is said to be ex-Cannon but this car also has a chassis plate stamped 73A/2. John has had the car restored by Bob Needham of Diversified Engineering into the spec of Cannon's 1972 March 72A-Oldsmobile. It has been fitted with a 4.4-litre Aluminium Oldsmobile V8 and 721 bodywork.
Raced by Mackinlay in the 2005/06 New Zealand F5000 Revival Series, starting at Fielding 12-13 Nov 2005. Also appeared at Sandown Park Nov 2006, then in selected rounds of the 2007/08 and 2008/09 Tasman Cup Revival series including the the Australian GP meeting 28 Mar 2009. Regular competitor in the 2009/10 series, then missed 2010/11 and returned for the 2011/12 series. Last seen at Hampton Downs Jan 2012. Taken to Shayne Windelburn in 2014, to fit an original body with front mounted radiator. Still in progress in April 2016.
Larry McNeil's car, listed on previous versions of this page, is now known to have been Bob Lazier's 73A/4.
The Ray Gibbs cars
Sandy Topin, also known as Jock Topin, ran Ecurie Santos in Watford in the mid-1970s and regularly advertised in Autosport a large number of March F1, F2, F5000 and sports cars. It is not clear whether Topin actually had all these in stock, or whether they were cars that were at March that he'd had some agreement to sell. Few cars left the adverts, and most of those that did have known histories. Ray Gibbs in Australia clearly had dealings with Topin as at least two of the cars Gibbs later owned have Ecurie Santos livery. Unfortunately, Gibbs was extremely secretive and nobody knows exactly what he bought. The four cars below have emerged from his ownership since 1996.
'the first Gibbs car'
Reported to have been bought from Jock Topin's Ecurie Santos (Watford, UK) and imported to Australia by Ray Gibbs (East Malvern, Victoria, Australia) in 1978. According to a later history, Gibbs sold it to Terry Healy (Australia) in 2000, then it passed to Rick Hall (Bourne, Lincolnshire) 2000, then to Roger Cowman (Belper, Derbyshire) 2001. Later to Mike Wrigley (Ashbourne, Derbyshire) and then exchanged with John Henderson for a Lola T88/00 Indy car some time before 2005. The car is said to be the John Cannon 725 which "was then loaned to John Gunn while his 73A was being built", but reports from early 1973 do not support such a loan. Henderson reports that the car has "ESR1 73A" on its chassis plate and a tub number "AM 725/13X" , which are consistent with a 1972 history, but there is 725 in the UK with a highly credible claim to this identity.
Sold to Harry Read (Aachen, Germany) and appeared in testing at Spa late 2008. Still with Read in May 2015 but unraced as he has stuck to his McLaren M8. Sold to Peter Schleiffer later in 2015.
'the second Gibbs car'
Reported to have been bought from Jock Topin's Ecurie Santos (Watford, UK) and imported to Australia by Ray Gibbs (East Malvern, Victoria, Australia) in 1978. Entered by Gibbs for Russell Davidson in the Australian ARCO Graphite series in 1980. The car has March 722 bodywork. It has no chassis plate but has the tub number 732/15 with an 'A' below the number implying that a March 732 (or 73B) was converted to 73A specification by March or by Topin. From Gibbs to Ron Cullen (Sydney, Australia) about 1996: restored but sold soon after to Graham Smith (Bellbrae, Victoria, Australia) late 2000/early 2001.
Raced by Smith in the NZ Express F5000 Revival Series race at Pukekohe Jan 2006, at Sandown Park Nov 2008, in the Formula 5000 Tasman Cup Revival at the Australian GP meeting 28 Mar 2009, the Phillip Island Classic Mar 2010, the Australian GP support race Mar 2010, the Australian GP support race Mar 2011, and the Phillip Island Classic Mar 2012. Sold by Smith to an unknown owner in Victoria in 2014. Sold at auction in April 2016 to Rob Splatt.
A car in Ecurie Santos Racing livery acquired from the family of Ray Gibbs (East Malvern, Victoria, Australia) by Peter Brennan in August 2014 after it had sat in a museum in Australia for many years. Note that its livery is very similar to that of 'the first Ray Gibbs car' above but that this car has forward-facing rollhoop stays. Peter is continuing to research the car. The car was ready for a shakedown in April 2016.
'the fourth Gibbs car'
Built up by Ray Gibbs (East Malvern, Victoria, Australia) as a recreation of John Cannon's 1976 'March 73A/751'. This used a 1975 March monocoque bought from Roger Hurst in England, a set of bodywork that may have come from the same source. Gibbs also acquired some parts from John Wright (Sydney, Australia), believed to be a DG300 gearbox, and other components which may have been left over from the 1978 Cannon car, the car that Graham Ritter had dismantled and shipped to Auckland in 1979.
The recreation was painted in Cannon's 1976 John Lane livery and offered for sale via a Shannons auction in Australia in March 2007. It was claimed at that time that the car had been acquired from Ritter via three intermediate owners in 1979, 1986 and 2002 but this chain of ownership appears to refer only to unspecified suspension or transmission components. Shannons' description of this car is available here.
The car was unsold at the auction and remained with Gibbs until 2013, when a number of his cars were offered for sale. In late 2014, the car was sold to Bob Harborow (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia).
As of May 2015, Richard Taylor has the earlier March 725.
A note on chassis number identification
The chassis numbers used here are taken from March factory records and provided by Adam Ferrington.
|March 73A/1||John Gunn||White|
|March 73A/2||Skip Barber||Red|
|March 73A/3||Gus Hutchison||Yellow|
|March 73A/4||Bob Lazier||Black/Alum|
|March 73A/5||Clive Baker||Black|
|March 73A/6||Skip Barber||Red||Kit of spares|
These histories last updated on 21 May, 2016 .