Lotus 70 car-by-car histories
The Lotus 70, initially known as the Lotus 68, launched Lotus into Formula 5000 at the end of 1969. George Follmer and Bill Brack both won races during 1970.
Old Lotuses, mainly of F1 or Indy origins, were plentiful in the early days of FA and F5000 but the Lotus's purpose-built Formula A design did not appear until the very end of the 1969 season. Colin Chapman had commissioned the car in June, designed by Martin Waide, and to be produced for customers by Lotus's customer car operation, Lotus Components. The prototype car, dubbed the Lotus 68 at first, followed the prevailing Lotus "wedge" design and was fitted with a Shelby-tuned 302ci Ford Boss V8 engine. Customer cars were expected to use Chevrolet engines.
The car was tested in England but missed its intended debut at the Riverside Formula A event in September, instead being sold to Koshland Competition for Mario Andretti to race at the Sebring FA race on 28 December. Waide and Lotus Components boss Mike Warner both travelled out to the US to look after the car, and Andretti led the first heat comfortably before the engine blew after just 12 laps. The impressive performance generated what Warner described as five orders, and he approved the production of parts for an initial batch of ten cars. However, only three orders were actually placed from the US, and only six Lotus 70s were produced in total. The remaining unused components were used to produce a revised car, the Lotus 70B, for 1971, but this did not sell well either. Lotus Components was renamed Lotus Racing Ltd for 1971, and that summer Chapman sacked Warner and moved to wind up Lotus Racing Ltd. Warner and a number of his key staff, including Gordon Huckle and Derek Wild, started a new company, GRD, together with ex-McLaren designer Jo Marquart. Both Martin Waide and his fellow designer Dave Baldwin remained with Lotus, at leats for a while.
All and any help would be gratefully received, especially anyone who is in touch with - or crewed for - Max Mizejewski (Santa Ana, CA), Mark Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), Mike Rounds (South Richfield, MN), Ed Hinchcliff (Ypsilanti, MI), Tim Duke (Lewisville, TX), Tony Nawrocki (Sardinia, NY) or Bruce Davis. Please email Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Koshland Racing (Ford) for Mario Andretti US 1969: Sebring 28 Dec 1969 - Falconer & Dunn (Culver City, CA): driven by George Follmer US 1970 (F&D Boss Ford engine) at Elkhart Lake (3rd) and St Jovite (1st) 1970 [then said to have been sold to Ron Grable for USAC racing but it appears Follmer continues racing the car until the end of 1970, entered by Brian O'Neil] - Bruce Eglington (South Pasadena, CA): US 1971; US 1972 (one race only); US 1973 (one race only) - Butch Henneger August 1973: US 1973 (R7 Road Atlanta 19 Aug 1973) - Rodney Green (Aurora, CO) US 1974 (first two races only) ... Later to veteran racer Ron Hunter (Denver, CO) who died in June 1987 - Ken Johnson (restored by Rodney Green) - Rodney Green (Kiowa, CO). Believed retained 2001.
This car was advertised by Vintage Motors (Sarasota, FL) between 2006 and 2010, In August 2012, it was offered by Bonhams at their Quail Lodge sale, but it did not sell. It was advertised by Craig Brody Investment Motorcars (Weston, FL) later in August 2012, but its ownership during this time is unknown. It was shown as sold by Brody in December 2012.
Driven by: Mario Andretti, George Follmer, Bruce Eglinton, Floyd "Butch" Heneger and Rodney Green. First race: Sebring International Raceway (US R13), 28 Dec 1969. Total of 21 recorded races.
Lotus Components Ltd for Alan Rollinson (Vegatune Chevy) UK 1970: two races (Oulton Park and Brands Hatch - crashed and heavily damaged). Rebuilt (or a new car using the same chassis number) with Ford V8: for Dave Walker at R19 Oulton Park 19 Sep 1970; for Alan Rollinson at R20 Brands Hatch 26 Sep 1970; then to US for David Oxton at Sebring 25 Oct 1970 (4th); Team Lotus entry for Dave Walker (5th) at Australian Grand Prix (Warwick Farm) 22 Nov 1970; Lotus Racing Ltd (the new name of Lotus Components Ltd) entry (crew Brian Burness and Joe Cavaglieri) for Oxton at Levin Tasman Jan 1971 (4th). Then acquired by STP as their March 701 was not competitive: raced by Chris Amon at NZ GP (9th), Wigram (DNS, engine), Warwick Farm (2nd) and Sandown (4th); then by John Cannon at Surfers (7th). Subsequent history unknown. Presumably the car advertised by Lotus Cars Ltd (Wymondham, Norfolk) Autoweek 12 Aug 1972 "as raced by STP '71 Tasman series ... All ex-Compton California". Then likely to be the car advertised by Lotus Racing East (Millerton, NY) "1971 Lotus type 70 ... As new condition ... Including 2 Ford engines ... In storage in California" on 23 Oct 1972.
Then presumably the car advertised by Max Mizejewski (Santa Ana, CA): "Ex-Amon Tasman" in Autoweek 9 Dec 1972. Mizejewski ran Motor Racing Equipment (MRE) in Santa Ana in the early 1970s, a well-known dealership of cars and parts. Mizejewski closed the company down in January 1974 but continued to race and to trade.
Sold to Brian Stack (Palo Alto, CA) for 1973 and appeared in SCCA events in California that season. Advertised by Brian Stack (Palo Alto, CA) on 1 Mar 1975. Bought by Bob Dunlop (Sunnyvale, CA) at some point around 1975 with two Ford engines and retained until the mid-1990s. Dunlop raced the Lotus in the Runoffs (the CSPRRC) in 1978 but did not finish. After Dunlop's death, the car remained in the ownership of his partner Steve Rich (Grass Valley, CA). Still with Rich in July 2015.
Driven by: Alan Rollinson, Dave Walker, David Oxton, Chris Amon, John Cannon, Brian Stack and Bob Dunlop. First race: Oulton Park (UK R1), 27 Mar 1970. Total of 14 recorded races.
Smothers-Wintersteen Racing/Echlin Ignition (PA) for George Wintersteen (#12 Chevy): US 1970 (debut at Riverside, April 1970), advertised 7 Nov 1970; unused 1971, 1972; advertised by Wintersteen (Rosemont, PA) 23 Sep 1972. Bought by Tim Duke (Lewisville, TX) in time for the ARRC at the end of November 1972, where he finished second. Used in a couple of Nationals early in 1973, and then advertised May 1973.
Next seen when acquired by Mark Dillon (Minneapolis, MN) in part-exchange for his Lola T250 FSV. Unfortunately, Mark cannot remember the vendor, but the timing means this must have been Tim Duke. Dillon was entered by Dillon Racing at Road America in July 1973, but blew the engine in practice. Then see the "Steve" and "The Book" adverts below, both in the same Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area over the next year. Then to Mike Rounds (South Richfield, MN, also in the same connurbation) and raced at the Uncola National July 1975. Advertised Autoweek 11 Oct 1975 "Bartz, Webers, Carillo". Raced by Rounds at 1977 Road America June Sprints. Sold to Jerald Dulski (Plymouth, MN) who raced it in Formula A, and A Sports Racing, with which FA was merged in 1979. In 1983, Jerry drove the Lotus 70 in the Can-Am races at Elkhart Lake and at Mosport. He recalls that he sold it to "a fellow in Montana, who in turn sold it to someone in California". Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: George Wintersteen, Tim Duke, Mark Dillon, Michael Rounds and Jerald Dulski. First race: Riverside (US R1), 19 Apr 1970. Total of 24 recorded races.
Bill Brack (Chevy V8) US 1970, US 1971, US 1972 (up to R5 Donnybrook 29 Jul 1972). For 1973, the car was sold to Ed Hinchcliff (Ypsilanti, MI) to race in the 1973 F5000 series. Hinchcliff was an engineer on Ford's racing programme, and was involved with Ford contractor Kar Kraft in nearby Brighton, Michigan. He also shared a workshop with Warren Tope's Tope Racing Enterprises in Troy, Michigan, also in the greater Detroit area, and both had raced Ford Mustangs with significant Kar Kraft input in 1971 and 1972. Hinchcliff only appeared at one race in the Lotus, at Watkins Glen 17 Jun 1973 (DNS Heat 2), and the car then disappears. However, given the location, it is likely to be the car advertised on 12 October 1974 by Adam Enterprises (Brighton, MI) as a "Lotus F5000 New, Bartz Lucas injected 305, second car in spares".
In 1977, Dan Ramschissel (Detroit, MI) raced a Lotus 70 in Central Division Formula A events at IRP and Waterford Hills. The Detroit location again suggests this is very likely to have been the ex-Hinchcliff, ex-Adam Enterprises car.
Next seen when bought in Idaho or Montana as 'a beat up regional FA car' by Bruce Trenery of famed California dealer Fantasy Junction (early/mid 1980's). Bruce was told that it was from Canada and was the Brack car. Sold to Dennis Greenwood (early/mid 1980's) who Autocrossed it, then to veteran racer John ('Jack') McDonald (Vallejo, CA), who used it in the 'A Modified' class of SCCA Solo II in 1984 and 1985. McDonald died early in 2005 and the 70 was bought from his estate by James Faulknor (Petaluma, CA) in April 2005. With RM Auctions for sale at their Monterey auction Aug 2005. Bill Brack identified the car for RM Auctions. At this time, the car had a rollcage virtually identical to one shown in a Jerry Melton photograph of Dan Ramschissel's car in 1977. Warren Tope had been killed in 1975 when his Can-Am car slid under an Armco barrier, so that event may have led to the rollcage being added.
Subsequent history unknown, but almost certainly the car advertised by Brad Goldstone of San Francisco Sports Cars (San Carlos, CA) in 2012, at which point it was plain white. It reappeared three years later with Art Hebert's motorsportsmarket.com, now in Brack's Castol colours and quoting this history from OldRacingCars.com. In 2015, it was sold to Guillaume Dippel (Landgraaf, Netherlands).
Driven by: Bill Brack, Ed Hinchliff and Dan Ramschissel. First race: Harewood Acres (R1), 10 May 1970. Total of 30 recorded races.
Smothers-Wintersteen Racing/Echlin Ignition (PA) for Dick Smothers in the 1970 US F5000 series, using a Chevrolet engine and entered as #10. Smothers debuted at Riverside in April and ran the full season, after which the car was advertised in November 1970. It did not continue in the team's adverts was returned to Echlin Ignition (Branford, CT), initially to sit in their lobby and later in a warehouse. It passed into private ownership but its exact movements thereafter are not known.
Next seen when acquired from a classified advert in Autoweek in 1985 by Barry Prehodka (Ridgefield, CT). It was bought from a dealer and was still in original Echlin Ignition livery. Restored over the next three years with the help of Bill Faircloth and raced at Lime Rock from 1988 onwards. Advertised in 1992 by Marc Evans of New England Classics (Stratford, CT) on behalf of Prehodka. Bought by Richard Drewett (UK). Still with Drewett in 2003 but sold to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum (Birmingham, AL) by January 2006. Still on display in the museum in October 2021.
Driven by: Dick Smothers. First race: Riverside (US R1), 19 Apr 1970. Total of 11 recorded races.
Jock Russell (Ford V8) UK 1970 (debut Mallory Park May 1970), UK 1971, UK 1972 (first rounds only); retained by Russell for many years - Peter Denty (date unknown): restored and raced in UK by Peter's son, James Denty. Raced by James at the Silverstone Classic in 2005 and at Watkins Glen in 2008. Offered for sale by Peter Denty (Thetford, Norfolk) in 2010. Raced again by James Denty at Watkins Glen in 2012 but on behalf of new owner Nick Grewal (Gilford, NH). Raced by Grewal at SVRA Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June 2015.
Driven by: Jock Russell. First race: Mallory Park (UK R8), 25 May 1970. Total of 19 recorded races.
The mystery cars
The two mysteries that remain are the cars of Bruce Davis and Roger Cowman. Now that more of the histories are complete, it is worth looking at what they might have had. Bruce Davis could have had 70/04 or 70/05 in 1978/79, but the roll cage on his car hints strongly in the direction of 70/04. Roger Cowman's car is more of a puzzle as only the Minneapolis car, 70/03, can possibly fit, unless Cowman's turns out to be an extra car built on an unused tub. Another intriguing possibility is that 70/04 has been misidentified and it is actually 70/03; this would leave 70/04 as the "ex-Brack" car that Cowman acquired. Note that none of the 70Bs have significant gaps in their histories. The other thing to consider is an advert placed by Bobby Howlings of AMCO Motorsport (Alderley Edge, Cheshire) in late 1988 and 1989. This could be an indication that a car returned to Britain in the late 1980s, meaning it could be the car Cowman had a few years later.
Bruce Davis (Sterling Hts, Michigan) ran a #44 Lotus in the 'F51' series at Nelson Ledges in 1978, and also in an SCCA Regional at Grattan in July 1978. From a photograph in Road Racers Magazine Dec 1978 p45, this appears to be a Lotus 70 with a roll cage. Curiously, a Bruce Davis then appeared in an SCCA San Francisco Region race at Laguna Seca in June 1979, a very long way from Nelson Ledges. Nothing more known but the roll cage suggests this was 70/04.
Driven by: Bruce Davis. First race: Nelson Ledges, 28 May 1978. Total of 3 recorded races.
First known when sold by UK racing car dealer Roger Cowman (Belper, Derbyshire) to Helmut Dango (Munich, Germany) in 1993. Documents with the car show that it was owned by Mark Williams in 1991, and James Denty believes Williams and his father Ted bought the car from Roy Lane. The car bears a reproduction chassis plate "70-F5/001". Dango was told it was ex-Brack, indicating chassis 70/04, but the history of that car seems clear. Raced by Dango in historic racing in Europe for some years. Sold to Lotus collector Olav Glasius (Holland) 2005. Damaged in an accident at a Bavarian street event in 2010 when another car spun into it. The Glasius Lotus Collection was auctioned by Bonhams at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed but the Lotus 70 was not mentioned. Still with Olav in February 2017.
Other adverts for Lotus 70s were placed by Lotus Racing East (Millerton, NY) "1971 Lotus type 70 ... as new condition ... including 2 Ford engines ... in storage in California" on 23 Oct 1972, "Gary" (Los Angeles) "complete with spare engine" on 24 Feb 1973, "Steve" (Minneapolis, MN) 16 Mar 1974, "The Book - Motor Racing Equipment (St Paul, MN) on 22 Mar 1975 and Bobby Howlings' AMCO Motorsport (Manchester, England) late 1988/early 1989. Robert Thompson advertised a "Lotus Formula/A", presumably a 70, from a Cleveland, Ohio number on 8 Nov 1975.
The Lotus 70-ish Chinook
Also relevant here is a Chinook that looks a lot like a Lotus 70. This car was reputedly a USAC-legal car and had a full-length slab-sided monocoque reminiscent of the Lola T190/192 design. It had suspension based broadly on a Lotus 38 but symmetrical and was powered by a 289 ci Ford V8. It is thought to be the Ford-engined Chinook Mk 12 that was reported in 1971 to have been built for George Eaton to use in USAC's planned road racing championship but was abandoned when the series didn't go ahead. In July 1971, Eaton was expected to appear with this car in a F5000 race at Mid-Ohio but his plans changed and the Fejers bought a second-hand Colt Indycar instead. In 1972, this car was owned by Denny Reed (New York State) and he loaned it to Wayne "Bing" Sherer (Buffalo, NY) and Ralph Locurcio who entered it for a SCCA National at Mid Ohio for Sherer to drive. It was damaged in the race and a planned entry for the Lime Rock Continental Championship race on 4 Sep 1972 did not go ahead. Reed advertised a "Lotus T70 F/A" said to be to "USAC specs" on 11 May 1974 which may be this car.
The car was then sold to Tony Nawrocki (Sardinia, NY) and would be the Chinook that he entered for SCCA events at Bryar Motorsports Park in 1974. The Northeast Division Formula A points table for 1974 listed Nawrocki in second place in the Chinook, with 15 points, implying a win and a second place in class. He entered the car for the 1974 Runoffs, but is listed as a DNS. Just before the Runoffs, he advertised the car on 12 Oct 1974 as a "Lotus 70-F/A" saying that it had "GT40 Cobra power" and had finished second in NEDiv (and maybe again at the end of 1975). Curiously, a "Lotus 72 type Chinook F5000" was advertised by Dennis Reed (Irving, NY) in 1976. Irving is 30 miles west of Buffalo, and both are about 30 miles from Sardinia, so the car had not moved far.
The car then disappears for more than a decade until it was bought by Mike Knittel (Chittenango, NY) in November 1986 from an unknown seller in Buffalo, NY. It was then fitted with a Ford Boss 302 engine. Knittel restored the car over the next two years but it is unclear when some of the car's features, notably the side radiators, were added. Nawrocki's car had a nose radiator. Also, Knittel's car has outboard front suspension, like a Lotus 70, not the Lotus 38-style rocker arm suspension which was visible in Nawrocki's advert. There has to be some doubt whether Knittel's car is actually the ex-Nawrocki car. If it is, then it has been rebuilt to a very different specification, apparently using Lotus 70 components.
Knittel's first known race in the car was at the SVRA Watkins Glen event in September 1991. The Chinook is a regular at Watkins Glen vintage racing, appearing in Knittel's hands at the Jul 2001, Sep 2002, Sep 2004, Oct 2004, Jun 2005, Sep 2005, Sep 2009 and Jun 2010 events. Knittel also raced the car at Mid-Ohio in the mid-1990s, at Road America from 2008 to 2013, and in other historic F5000 events in 2018 and 2021. .
James Bennett researched these cars in detail and was able to trace almost the complete racing record of each car. Added to the results of James' research are the research and recollections of Wolfgang Klopfer, Gerr Measures, Pete Brock, David McKinney, Helmut Dango, Jim Crawford, Edwin Lindsay, Michael Oliver, Bruce Trenery and James Faulknor. Wolfgang Klopfer has located advertisements in the classified columns of Autoweek between 1970 and 1976 and Gerr Measures has added other advertisements from the late 1980's and early 1990's. In more recent years, Mike Pattison has continued to research these cars and has provided a wealth of further information.
Thanks also to Ted Walker, Alan Cox, Jeremy Jackson, Mark Manroe, Norbert Vogel, Chuck Ritz and others for the photographs used.
These histories last updated on .