McRae GM1 (Leda LT27)

Graham McRae's new GM1 chassis 014 at Mid-Ohio in June 1973.   Copyright Terry Capps 2013.  Used with permission.

Graham McRae's new GM1 chassis 014 at Mid-Ohio in June 1973. Copyright Terry Capps 2013. Used with permission.

In 1972, Graham McRae, the dominant F5000 driver of the day, joined forces with Malcolm Bridgeland of Malaya Garage and famed designer Len Terry to build a new F5000. The car was initially designated Leda LT27, following Terry's designs, but in mid-1972 McRae and London insurance broker John Heynes bought out Bridgeland and set up McRae Cars Ltd at Poole, Dorset. As from 1 July 1972 the Leda LT27 became the McRae GM1.

The beautifully-engineered McRae, especially Graham's prototype 001, was the top car of 1972 and one of the best of 1973, but the GM2 design lost the momentum and the McRae marque soon faded away.

These are among the most sought after F5000 cars and it has now been possible to trace the fate of all 14 GM1s built. There is an element of doubt around the histories of 008 and 011 as both cars show evidence have having been Gordon Smiley's #21 car. There is also an extra McRae GM1 in the US and OldRacingCars.com is actively trying to work out how it fits in to the histories. It may be an extra car built in period but previously unknown, it could have been built up since from a spare tub and parts, or it could be that one of the histories below is incorrect.

This research was originally based on the work of Wolfgang Klopfer with Tony Nicholson filling in many of the gaps. The chassis number identities came chiefly from an article in New Zealand Motorman (Sept 1973 pp37-39) - thanks to Milan Fistonic for tracking that down for us. Thanks also to Dale Campfield, Shayne Windelburn, David McKinney, Roger Cowman, Marcus Pye, Ian Stronach, Todd Peterson, Alistair Hey, Paul Hoey, Jay Esterer and Michael Clark for their additions and clarifications.

All and any further help would be gratefully received. Please e-mail Allen if you can add anything.

Car History Current
owner
McRae GM1
001
Built for 1972 season. Graham McRae: raced in Tasman 1972 (won championship), UK 1972 and US 1972 (won championship) - Dexter Dunlop: raced in NZ Gold Star 1972/73, Tasman 1973, NZ Gold Star 1973/74, Tasman 1974. Subsequently burnt out in a trailer fire and, after an insurance claim, the remains of the car were scrapped. Scrapped.
McRae GM1
002
Evan Noyes in his GM1 at Michigan in 1973.  Copyright Mark Windecker 2005.  Used with permission.

Evan Noyes in his GM1 at Michigan in 1973. Copyright Mark Windecker 2005. Used with permission.

Jim Sechser's McRae GM1 after its crash at Brainerd in 1977.  Copyright Todd Peterson 2005.  Used with permission.

Jim Sechser's McRae GM1 after its crash at Brainerd in 1977. Copyright Todd Peterson 2005. Used with permission.

Built for 1972 season. Evan Noyes: raced in UK 1972, US 1972, Tasman 1973, US 1973, advertised by Roy Campbell Autoweek 20 Apr 1974 ... "Race Car Drivers Institute" and sold at bankrupcy auction - Jim Sechser (MN, US) probably 1975 or 1976: used in SCCA racing and a single Pro race (R6 1976 only); later DNS at 1977 June Sprints and then crashed heavily in practice for the Uncola Nationals at Brainerd July 1977; rebuilt over the next two years and raced again at the 1979 June Sprints - Fred Schilpin ( St Cloud, MN) 1979 or later and used in minor racing; retained until 1996 - Roger Williams (NZ) 1996 and restored by Tony Nicholson's Robin Automotive, Inc. Won the libre race at the TACCOC Autumn Classic 2002 12 May 2002. Retained 2004 and used in Tasman Cup Revival series. To Alastair Russell (NZ) and raced in 2006 series. Raced by Lush in the 2009 Tasman Cup Revival Series. Presumably the car entered by Russell at Hampton Downs Jan 2012. Raced by Russell at the Leadfoot Festival March 2013.

Alastair Russell (New Zealand) 2013
McRae GM1
003
Jock Russell's bright green Mcrae GM1 at the International Trophy in 1973.  Copyright Rob Ryder 2001.  Used with permission.

Jock Russell's bright green Mcrae GM1 at the International Trophy in 1973. Copyright Rob Ryder 2001. Used with permission.

Built for 1972 season. Leda Cars for Trevor Taylor: raced in UK 1972 - Jock Russell July 1972: raced in UK 1972 (also for Brett Lunger 2 races), UK 1973; retained until 1999 - Noel Butler 1999 - Roy Lane 2000: restored in Lane's orange colours. To Peter and Aaron Burson (New Zealand) Oct 2006.

Raced by Peter Burson in 2011 and 2012 (#51 orange) Raced by Peter Burson at Hampton Downs Jan 2012. Presumably the GM1 raced by Peter Burson at Invercargill Feb 2013.

Peter Burson (New Zealand) 2013
McRae GM1
004
Chris Lambden racing his GM1 in 2012. Copyright Chris Lambden 2012. Used with permission.

Chris Lambden racing his GM1 in 2012. Copyright Chris Lambden 2012. Used with permission.

Built for 1972 season. Evan Noyes as spare tub for 002 (see Motoring News 11 Jan 1973). Then with 002 through Roy Campbell, "Race Car Drivers Institute" and Jim Sechser to Fred Schilpin (St Cloud, MN). Schilpin sold the complete 002 to Roger Williams in 2001 but is believed to have retained the 004 monocoque until his death in 2005. Acquired at that point by Williams (NZ). Sold to Alistair Hey (NZ) in 2008 and entrusted to Graham McRae to be built up.

Built up into a complete car for Hey by Motorsport Solutions (Christchurch, NZ) and sold to Chris Lambden (Christchurch-born but a long-time resident of Melbourne, Australia) Feb 2011. Chris is racing the car in New Zealand as of June 2012. Raced at Hampton Downs Jan 2013.

Chris Lambden (New Zealand) 2013
McRae GM1
005
Graham McRae during the 1973 US campaign, probably in his new chassis 014.  Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001.  Used with permission.

Graham McRae during the 1973 US campaign, probably in his new chassis 014. Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001. Used with permission.

Ken Petrie's GM1 (005 or maybe 014) at Miller Motorsport Park on 30 June 2007.  Copyright John Barrett 2007.  Used with permission.

Ken Petrie's GM1 (005 or maybe 014) at Miller Motorsport Park on 30 June 2007. Copyright John Barrett 2007. Used with permission.

Built for 1972 season - first seen May 1972. Graham McRae: raced in UK 1972 (Debut Oulton Park 29 May), Tasman 1973 (won championship), UK 1973 (first five races only up to 23 Apr), US 1973 (at R1 Riverside on 29 Apr and R2 Laguna Seca only) - Gregg Young May 1973: raced in US 1973 (2 DNS - R4 Mid-Ohio and R5 Watkins Glen) - Fred Opert and planned to run for Tim Schenken at Elkhart Lake - Randolph Johnston (Suitland, MD): raced in US 1974 (2 DNS - R2 Mosport and R3 Watkins Glen), advertised Autoweek 21 Sep 1974. Subsequent history unknown but probably the car advertised by "S. Diamond" (MA, US) 20 Dec 1975 and 30 Oct 1976. Subsequent history unknown but see the Sorbello car below. Maybe the car raced by Petrie in vintage racing in 1994. Owned by Ken Petrie (US) 2001 and present at Pueblo F5000 reunion May 2001.

Thought to be the car raced by Ken Petrie at Miller Motorsport Park on 30 June 2007 as he mentioned to John Barrett that it was a 1972 car. Also believed to be the car raced by Petrie in US vintage events during 2008. A car also wearing #95 but with more original wings raced by Petrie at Road America July 2012. Raced by Petrie at The HAWK at Road America with Brian Redman July 2013.

Ken Petrie (US) 2013
McRae GM1
006
The Scuderia France McRae GM1 with extravagant roll protection in the paddock at Portland in 1975 or 1976. Copyright Brent Martin 2011. Used with permission.

The Scuderia France McRae GM1 with extravagant roll protection in the paddock at Portland in 1975 or 1976. Copyright Brent Martin 2011. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. Gordon Meffert: raced in US 1973 (3 races: Road America R6 29 Jul 1973, Road Atlanta and Pocono). Advertised in Autoweek in late 1973/early 1974: "McRae ... 3 races old ... Fresh Kinsler Lucas F.I."). Subsequent history unknown but possibly the car advertised by Gregg Peterson in Autoweek 14 Dec 1974 ('3 races old ... not used in 1974'). Raced by D. David France (San Francisco) under Hat Racing banner at Laguna Seca Sprints 28/29 June 1975 (Formula Aug 1975 p32 and Sports Car Sep 1975 p34). Also second at 'Portland Rose Cup' National 15 Jun 1975 (Sports Car Sep 1975 p29) and later second in class at Sears Point National 24 Feb 1977 (Formula Jul 1977 p30). From France to "Bushell's Furniture" (Olympia, WA): driven by Sam Darnell. Entered by Dale "Campfire" for Sam Darnell at 1984 Run-Offs. To Dale Campfield (Apalachin, NY) mid-1980's and retained until sold to James L. Stengel (New York, NY) early 2010.

Fully rebuilt and restored by Chris Schneider of Executive Autosport and raced for the first time at the KIC at Road America July 2010. Retained 2011 and James planning to run the full 2011 F5000 series in it. Raced by Stengel at The HAWK at Road America with Brian Redman July 2013. Still with Stengel in Sep 2013 when he reported that the car was in Quicksilver Racing livery.

James Stengel (US) 2013
McRae GM1
007
Alan Rollinson's McRae GM1-007 at the 1973 International Trophy.  Copyright Rob Ryder 2001.  Used with permission.

Alan Rollinson's McRae GM1-007 at the 1973 International Trophy. Copyright Rob Ryder 2001. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. McKechnie Racing Organisation for Alan Rollinson: raced in Tasman 1973, UK 1973 ... Rebuilt for Rollinson as the "Contender F5000" and run by Derek Robinson (Frome, Somerset) for him at Thruxton 26 May 1975; advertised by Robinson August 1976 and March 1977 ... Alex Seldon (Farnham, UK) raced in libre races; advertised by Seldon March & April 1979 ...bought from Robinson by Brian Redman February 1982: raced once by Redman and once by his mechanic, John Bright (a win at Watkins Glen 7 Sep 1986) - Richard Schoenfeld (Muttontown, NY) May 1988 ... owned by Jim Swartzbaugh and raced at VARA Willow Springs March 1991 ... in southern California 1994 ... advertised in Victory Lane October 1995 ... reported to be owned by "J Maroney" of California 2001.
"J Maroney" (US) 2001
McRae GM1
008
Jon Woodner driving the Cuddy Racing McRae GM1 at Watkins Glen 1973.  Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001.  Used with permission.

Jon Woodner driving the Cuddy Racing McRae GM1 at Watkins Glen 1973. Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. Cuddy Racing for Jon Woodner: raced in US 1973 (first seen R1 Riverside 29 Apr 1973); advertised Autoweek 22 Dec 1973. Subsequent history unknown but a car with chassis plate 008 bought off Graham McRae's trailer after the final 1981 Can-Am round by Dan Furey (Columbus, OH). How it came to be back in McRae's hands isn't clear. Raced in historics in the 1990s (e.g. HSR Mid-Ohio Jul 1994). Retained until sold to Paul Hoey (Olympia, WA) 1995. Hoey believes he may have the Josef Scott car as he has detected a yellow and black #21 on the flanks. However, Rick Habersin also found #21 livery on 011 when he bought it so there is a puzzle remaining to be solved.

This car sold to Jay Esterer (Canada) July 2008 and raced in January 2009 Tasman Cup Revival Series in New Zealand. Sold February 2009 to Peter Burson (NZ), also the owner of 003, and believed to be the car Burson ran in practice for the Tasman Cup Revival race at the Australian Grand Prix meeting 26-29 March 2009.

Raced by Aaron Burson in 2010 and 2011 (#29 blue). Raced by Aaron Burson at Hampton Downs Jan 2012 and again at Hampton Downs Jan 2013 . Aaron raced a Talon in later races of the Tasman Revival series.

Aaron Burson (New Zealand) 2013
McRae GM1
009
Sarich in the Quicksilver McRae GM1 on its race debut at Watkins Glen in 1973.  Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001.  Used with permission.

Sarich in the Quicksilver McRae GM1 on its race debut at Watkins Glen in 1973. Copyright Autosports Marketing Associates and Bill Oursler 2001. Used with permission.

Ted Wenz' McRae GM1 at Lime Rock in 1990. Copyright Norbery Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

Ted Wenz' McRae GM1 at Lime Rock in 1990. Copyright Norbery Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. Quicksilver Racing for Jim and Chuck Sarich: raced in US 1973 (debut Watkins Glen R5 17 Jun 1973), US 1974 (1 race: Laguna Seca); advertised Autoweek 26 Apr 1975 - Ted Wenz and Peter Marcovicci (of Marcovicci-Wenz Engineering) (US) 1986: raced by Wenz in US vintage racing 1986-1998 - Stan Redmond (Christchurch, NZ) 2003. Retained 2004 and used in Tasman Cup Revival series 2004 and 2006. To Alistair Hey (NZ) 2007. Raced by Chris Hyde to win the 2007/08 Tasman Cup Revival Series. To Steve Ross (NZ) 2009.

Raced by Steve Ross in 2010 and 2012 (#5 orange). Raced by Ross at Hampton Downs Jan 2012. Raced again by Ross at Invercargill Feb 2013.

Steve Ross (New Zealand) 2013
McRae GM1
010
McRae GM1 chassis '010' at Road America in July 2006.  Copyright Duncan Fox 2013.  Used with permission.

McRae GM1 chassis '010' at Road America in July 2006.  Copyright Duncan Fox 2013.  Used with permission.

McRae GM1 chassis '010' at Road America in July 2006. Copyright Duncan Fox 2013. Used with permission.

Quicksilver Racing ordered two cars (Autoweek 17 Feb 1973) but only used one. Probably the car advertised in Autosport (21 Jun 1973): "Quicksilver Racing ... offers ... McRae ... Kinsler fuel injected ... fully sorted but not raced". Subsequent history unknown but possibly the car advertised in Autoweek by Bill Kontes 10 Aug 1974. Believed to be the car practiced at Laguna Seca October 1975 by Rodney Green. Green (Colorado) took the 1975 Midwest Division FA title with 9pts, equivalent to one win (Sports Car Dec 1975 p37). Retired from Pueblo, Colorado National 15 May 1977 (Formula Aug 1977 p41). Retained by Green until 2006 when sold to Paul Hoey (Olympia, WA), also the owner of 008. Sold to James Stengel (New York, NY) February 2008 and raced in US vintage racing throughout 2008. Stengel later acquired chassis 006 as well.

Raced in US in 2009 (#59 red/white). Retained 2011 but for sale; and then sold to Jay Esterer (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) to replace chassis 014 after that was damaged in an accident at Manfeild Nov 2011. Raced by Esterer at Hampton Downs Jan 2012 when it was red-and-white, carried #59 and had Rodney Green's name on the side. Retained September 2013.

Jay Esterer (Canada) 2013
McRae GM1
011
Gordon Smiley in Josef Scott's GM1 at Michigan in 1973.  Copyright Mark Windecker 2005.  Used with permission.

Gordon Smiley in Josef Scott's GM1 at Michigan in 1973. Copyright Mark Windecker 2005. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. Josef Scott for Gordon Smiley: raced in US 1973 (debut Michigan R3 20 May; 2 races); for Vern Schuppan (2 races: R6 Elkhart Lake and R7 Road Atlanta); for Scott: raced in US 1974 (1 race - crashed at R5 Ontario 2 Sep 1974); advertised Autoweek 1 Feb 1975 - Rick Habersin 1970's: retained 2003. See also 008.

Rick Habersin (US) 2003
McRae GM1
012
Roy Lane at Loton Park in April 1976 in the all-conquering McRae.  Copyright Alan Cox 2006.  Used with permission.

Roy Lane at Loton Park in April 1976 in the all-conquering McRae. Copyright Alan Cox 2006. Used with permission.

Phil Prince in the McRae GM1 at Barbon in 1981.  Copyright Steve Wilkinson 2006.  Used with permission.

Phil Prince in the McRae GM1 at Barbon in 1981. Copyright Steve Wilkinson 2006. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season but unused (completed June 1973, advertised 5 July 1973) - later to Roy Lane: raced in British Hill Climb Championship 1974, 1975 (won championship) and 1976 (won championship). Advertised by Lane wth "spare new monocoque" in Sep 1976 and sold to Dave Harris 1976: raced in British Sprint Championship 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980? - Stephen Cuff (Frome, UK) for 1980 ... Phil Prince (Parbold, Wigan, UK) 1981: sprints and hillclimbs and used to set some UK speed records - Roy Lane (again) 1983: raced in British Sprint Championship 1983, 1984, 1985.

Later sold via Peter Marcovicci and Ted Wenz of Marcovicci-Wenz Engineering to Ray Boissoneau (US - Bedford, NH) 1996. Retained 2006. Raced by Ted Wenz in 2008 US Vintage events. Raced by Boissoneau at the US Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glen September 2012.

Ray Boissoneau (US) 2012
McRae GM1
014
McRae GM1 014 in the paddock at Mallory Park 2 May 1994.  Copyright Jeremy Jackson 2003.  Used with permission.

McRae GM1 014 in the paddock at Mallory Park 2 May 1994. Copyright Jeremy Jackson 2003. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season. Graham McRae: raced in US 1973 (5 races - from R3 Michigan 20 May 1973 to R7 Road Atlanta 19 Aug 1973) ... Derek Robinson (Frome, Somerset) and sold, dismantled and less engine via Alan Rollinson to Ian Stronach (UK): raced widely in libre racing during 1976 and 1977 (for example at Oulton Park 1 May 1976, Aintree club meeting in August 1976, Oulton Oct 1976 and and Aintree again in May 1977) - Larry Bradley 1978 - Ian Higgins late 1980s or early 1990s (chassis number spotted by Jeremy Jackson in 1984) - sold to the US ... Owned by Ken Petrie (US) 2001 and present at Pueblo F5000 reunion May 2001. Sold by Petrie to Jay Esterer (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) March 2008 and restored to its 1973 Graham McRae specification. The red GM1 in STP livery and carrying #1 raced by Esterer at Teretonga Feb 2011.

Badly damaged in a startline accident at Manfeild Nov 2011 when Kenny Smith's Lola T332 snapped sideways and knocked Esterer's McRae into the pit wall. Esterer reported that "Both front corners were knocked off, all four wheels were wrecked and the tub was smashed in and twisted". He shipped chassis 010, which he had bought from Jim Stengel earlier in the year, out to NZ to complete the series.

Esterer reported in September 2013 that the car has been freshly renovated since the accident.

Jay Esterer (Canada) 2013
McRae GM1
015
Graham McRae in GM1-015 at Snetterton Oct 1973.  Copyright Dave Cogman 2006.  Used with permission.

Graham McRae in GM1-015 at Snetterton Oct 1973. Copyright Dave Cogman 2006. Used with permission.

Built for 1973 season with a longer wheelbase. Graham McRae: raced in UK 1973 (practiced at Misano 10 Jun and raced from R10 Mallory Park 8 Jul 1973 onwards) - Ian Ward Racing early 1974 and modified as "Ward KS1" but not raced - Chris Featherstone: raced in UK 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 (also raced by Keith Holland UK 1977), Australian series 1978 - Gary Dumbrell (Aus) Feb 1978 - Bob Tomlinson Oct 1978 - Salt Walther Feb 1979: raced in Australian series 1979 - Ray Gibbs (NZ) Sep 1979 - Stewart Lush (NZ) 2000: appeared in practice at the TACCOC Autumn Classic 2002 12 May 2002. Raced in the 2004 Tasman Cup Revival series, appeared in UK 2005, Tasman Cup Revival series 2006. This car wears a massively overstamped plate ending '005'.

Raced by Lush in the 2009 Tasman Cup Revival Series. Chris Hyde (2007-2008 F5000 Tasman Champion) drove 015 in the 2009-2010 Tasman Series for Stuart Lush Motorsport NZ, winning the Australian GP support race. Driven by Lush in the Australian Grand Prix support race 26 Mar 2011. To Greg Thornton (UK) and raced at Invercargill Feb 2013.

Greg Thornton (UK) 2013

The mystery cars

The following McRaes are not yet fully explained.

Car History Current owner
McRae GM?
'the Sorbello car'
First raced by John Sorbello at Mid-Ohio Can-Am June 1979. Bill Hough built the Can-Am body for Sorbello's car and he recalls that it was bought from Sue Diamond, implying it was 005. Sorbello raced the car until 1981. Nothing more known. Unknown but see 005
McRae GM1
'the 1981 car'
Advertised by Graham McRae in On Track 28 May 1981. McRae's own cars were 001, 005, 014 and 015, all of which have well-documented sales or later histories. Dan Furey (see 008) bought his car from McRae at the end of 1981 so it's quite likely this is the same car. How it got from Cuddy Racing back to McRae isn't clear. Unknown but see 008
McRae GM1
'the 2008 car'
Resolved. See 004.  
Ray Boissoneau's car (chassis 012) at Mid-Ohio, 1996. Copyright Norbert Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

Ray Boissoneau's car (chassis '012') at Mid-Ohio, 1996. Copyright Norbert Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

An unidentified McRae GM1 at Road America in 1996. Copyright Norbert Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

An unidentified McRae GM1 at Road America in 1996 - presumably one of Ken Petrie's two cars ('005' and '014'). Copyright Norbert Vogel 2013. Used with permission.

Another car is known to exist in the US, having been built up around a spare monocoque. It carries a chassis plate which says either 011 or 014, depending on reports, but the number on that plate clashes with one of the cars listed above. More will be published on this car as the facts emerge.

There are a few other references to McRaes in contemporary magazines that are now thought to be errors in the reports:

  1. Formula Dec 1976 p43 reports that Donald De Maagd raced a "McRae" at the Hoosier National 18/19 Sep 1976. Like the Midgley car immediately below, this is believed to be a McKee, in this car DeMaagd's ex-Reinold Mk 12.
  2. Formula Aug 1977 p41 reports that Ed Midgley won his class at Wentzville, Missouri, 8 May 1977 in his "McRae FA" and later did not start at the 1977 June Sprints. This is bellieved be Midgley's McKee Mk 18.

Also, Phil Henny (Van Nuys, CA) advertised a "new Leda LT27" in Autoweek on 22 Jul 1972. Phil advises that he placed the ad because Len Terry asked him to try to sell a LT27.

These histories last updated on 13 October, 2013 .