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Al Unser in The Vel's Parnelli Jones Lola T332 at Mid Ohio in 1976. Copyright Richard Deming 2016. Used with permission.

SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 1976

After two years of trying and failing to defeat Brian Redman, Mario Andretti moved to F1, and left teammate Al Unser to lead Vel's Parnelli Racing's F5000 campaign. Surtees F1 driver Alan Jones also joined the series, and won his first two races in Theodore Racing's Lola T332 and then in Doug Shierson's new March 76A. Such was the Lola T332's numerical dominance of F5000 that even Dan Gurney's AAR operation gave up on its Eagle 755 and bought a second-hand T332. As the British series had moved to Formule Libre, the VDS team joined Theodore Racing in moving to the US series where they ran Lola T430s and a Chevron B37 for Teddy Pilette and Peter Gethin but failed to win a round. The only other non-T332 race winner was Jackie Oliver in the Shadow-Dodge DN6B.

With two rounds to go, Jones and Oliver were tied for the championship lead, but when Oliver retired at Road America and Jones had to miss the race to be at the Dutch GP, Redman won and leapt into a significant points lead. Third place in the last round secured the Lancastrian his third successive title, while Unser's win propelled him into second place in the final points table.

The excitement around F5000 in 1975, after the cancellation of the ailing Can-Am series, proved short-lived, and promotors were moving towards IMSA's better promoted and better packaged GT series. SCCA's response was to bring back Can-Am, but sacrificed F5000 in the process. In 1977, the old F5000 cars would be allowed to run as sports cars alongside what was expected to be an exciting new breed of 5-litre Can-Am cars. That story continues with the 1977 Can-Am series.

The races

09 May 1976 > Pocono (road course)

20 Jun 1976 > Mosport Park

11 Jul 1976 > Watkins Glen

25 Jul 1976 > Road America

08 Aug 1976 > Mid-Ohio

28 Aug 1976 > Road America

17 Oct 1976 > Riverside

1976 SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 Championship table

1Brian RedmanLola T332C - Chevrolet V8132 pts3 wins
2Al UnserLola T332 - Chevrolet V8112 pts1 win
3Jackie OliverShadow DN6B - Dodge V8108 pts1 win
4Alan JonesLola T332 - Chevrolet V8
March 76A - Chevrolet V8
Lola T332C - Chevrolet V8
96 pts2 wins
5Danny OngaisLola T332C - Chevrolet V878 pts 
6Vern SchuppanEagle 755 - Chevrolet V8
Lola T332 - Chevrolet V8
45 pts 
7Warwick BrownLola T332C - Chevrolet V8
Lola T430 - Chevrolet V8
41 pts 
8Teddy PiletteLola T430 - Chevrolet V8
Chevron B37 - Chevrolet V8
37 pts 
9Peter GethinLola T430 - Chevrolet V8
Chevron B37 - Chevrolet V8
23 pts 
10Randy LewisLola T332 - Chevrolet V820 pts 
11Brett LungerLola T332C - Chevrolet V818 pts 
12Horst KrollLola T300 - Chevrolet V811 pts 
13Skeeter McKitterickLola T332 - Chevrolet V89 pts 
14=Sam PoseyTalon MR-1A - Chevrolet V88 pts 
14=John CannonMarch 73A/751 - Chevrolet V88 pts 
16Bob LazierLola T330/T332 - Chevrolet V87 pts 
17Arlon J. KoopsLola T330 - Chevrolet V85 pts 
18=Evan NoyesLola T332 - Chevrolet V84 pts 
18=John David BriggsLola T332 - Chevrolet V84 pts 
20David E. 'Tuck' ThomasLola T332 - Chevrolet V83 pts 

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