David Purley in the Pilbeam-modified Chevron B30 at Brands Hatch in March 1976.  Copyright Ted Walker.  Used with permission.

ShellSport Group 8 1976

The first season of the Group 8 series was given the title of ShellSport 5000 European Championship, positioning it as a continuation of the F5000 series, but now with Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula Atlantic cars added to the mix. Only a handful of the 5000cc beasts appeared, and one of these - a 1973 Lola T330 - won at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday in the very capable hands of Alan Jones. F5000 veteran Keith Holland also won a race in Len Gibbs' Lola T400, and former champion Bob Evans made a brief appearance in the almost-forgotten McLaren M25. The first F1 cars to appear were Divina Galica's Surtees TS16 - the combative former Olympic skier silencing many of her critics with a fabulous drive in the rain at Thruxton - and Spaniard Emilio de Villota in the Lyncar 006, but they were soon joined by Brian McGuire's more up-to-date Williams FW04 and he scored the first F1 win for the Williams marque at Thruxton in September. Mike Wilds in a Shadow DN3, Guy Edwards in an Ensign N174 and Damien Magee in a Penske PC3 improved the quality of the field substantially, and Edwards won at Oulton Park in September in the spare car from RAM Racing's GP team, a Brabham BT42/44B.

However, the cars that were most successful were both powered by Cosworth's 3.4-litre Ford GAA engines: David Purley's Chevron B30 which had been developed by Mike Pilbeam for the LEC team over the winter, and Damien Magee's Hexagon-owned ex-RAM Racing March 75A, although he swapped this for Hexagon's Penske later in the season.

The races

21 Mar 1976 > Mallory Park

28 Mar 1976 > Snetterton

16 Apr 1976 > Oulton Park

19 Apr 1976 > Brands Hatch

31 May 1976 > Thruxton

20 Jun 1976 > Brands Hatch

27 Jun 1976 > Mallory Park

01 Aug 1976 > Snetterton

30 Aug 1976 > Brands Hatch

12 Sep 1976 > Thruxton

18 Sep 1976 > Oulton Park

24 Oct 1976 > Brands Hatch

07 Nov 1976 > Brands Hatch

1976 ShellSPORT 5000 European Championship table

1David Purley3.4-litre Chevron B30 - Ford GAA V6172 pts6 wins
2Damien Magee3.4-litre March 75A - Ford GAA V6
(F1) Penske PC3 - Cosworth DFV
107 pts2 wins
3Keith Holland5-litre Lola T400 - Chevrolet V895 pts1 win
4Divina Galica(F1) Surtees TS16-4 - Cosworth DFV57 pts 
5Mike Wilds(F1) Shadow DN3B - Cosworth DFV
(F1) Ensign N174 - Cosworth DFV
51 pts 
6Val Musetti(F2) March 742/752 - Swindon BDX
3.4-litre March 752 - Ford GAA V6
43 pts 
7Richard Scott(F/Atl) Modus M3 - Ford BDA Nicholson
(F1) Shadow DN1 - Cosworth DFV
(F2) Modus M3 - Swindon BDX
42 pts 
8Brian McGuire(F1) Williams FW04 - Cosworth DFV32 pts1 win
9Richard Robarts(F2) March 752 - Ford BDG Richardson
(F2) March 762 - Hart 420R
30 pts 
10Guy Edwards(F1) Ensign N174 - Cosworth DFV
(F1) Brabham BT42/BT44B - Cosworth DFV
28 pts1 win
11=Brian Henton(F/Atl) Boxer PR276 - Ford BDA Swindon
(F2) Boxer PR276 - Swindon BDX
27 pts 
11=Bill Gubelmann(F2) March 732/752 - Ford BDG
(F2) March 732/742 - Ford BDG Hart
27 pts 
13=Ray Mallock(F2) Lola T450 - Swindon BDX
(F2) March 75B - Swindon BDX
26 pts1 win
13=Emilio de Villota(F1) Lyncar 006 - Cosworth DFV26 pts 
15Derek Bell(F1) Penske PC3 [02] - Cosworth DFV25 pts 

Previous: the 1975 F5000 season

Next: the 1977 season

Points table from Autocourse 1976/77 p246.

Although the series was often referred to as a Group 8 championship, the 1976 RAC Motor Sport Year Book listed it as Group 9, and said that "The series is open to single seaters complying with Appendix 'J' Group 9 up to 5 litres". This means that cars running with a 1600cc engine were not obliged to meet Formula Atlantic rules and cars running with 2-litre engines were not necessarily to Formula 2 specification

MCD Open Single Seater Championship 1976

Motor Circuit Developments ran a championship in 1976 open to "all types of single seater racing cars, without a capacity limit". It was to be held on MCD's four circuits, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Snetterton, but no Snetterton round took place. As well as attracting some of the F1, F5000, F2 and Formula Atlantic runners from the main Group 8 series, it also attracted F3, Formula Super Vee, Monoposto and FF2000 cars as well as a handful of 1600cc cars usually seen in speed events.

The races

06 Mar 1976 > Oulton Park

04 Apr 1976 > Mallory Park

01 May 1976 > Oulton Park

13 Jun 1976 > Brands Hatch

25 Jul 1976 > Mallory Park

15 Aug 1976 > Brands Hatch

19 Sep 1976 > Brands Hatch

02 Oct 1976 > Oulton Park

1976 MCD Open Single Seater Championship table

1Val Musetti(F2) 2-litre March 742/752 - Swindon BDX45 pts3 wins
2John Wingfield(F2) 2-litre Ralt RT1 - Ford BDG Somers25 pts1 win
3Keith Holland(F5000) Lola T400 - Chevrolet V822 pts2 wins
4Ken Bailey(F/Atlantic) Chevron B29 - Ford BDA Nicholson15 pts1 win
5Alan Clennell(F/Atlantic) GRD B73 - Ford BDA Swindon12 pts 
6=Nick Whiting(F1) Surtees TS16-4 - Cosworth DFV V810 pts 
6=Philip Guerola1.9-litre Brabham BT30 - Cosworth FVC10 pts