Like many people since the dawn of that ultimate displacement activity known as YouTube, I thought I’d seen all the good motor-racing footage there was to see. Not so. As a result of a new DVD called ‘Can-Am, The Speed Odyssey’, I am now £23 lighter in the pocket and several hours behind with my work.
As you will have guessed, it tells the story of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup’s halcyon days, from its inception in 1966 to its effective demise under a 1100bhp Porsche steamroller at the end of 1973. Narrated by Sam Posey, who is almost as gifted a broadcaster as he was a racing driver, the DVD provides a unique insight into racing not just from another time, but seemingly another planet.
Because you could have written the entire Rule book on the back of a packet of Rizlas, the cars taking part were perhaps the wildest ever to assemble on a grid together and, despite the fact that the vast majority of them were powered by what was even then resolutely old-school Detroit big-banger V8s, they had no problem lapping tracks faster than the fastest F1 cars of the day.
Unsurprisingly, Can-Am attracted the best drivers – Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Mark Donohue, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees and Jody Scheckter – and the greatest manufacturers, from the orange McLarens and black Shadows to white Chaparrals and blue Porsches. To see them in all their splendour thundering around North America is something not to be missed. Everything about Can-Am was big: big cars, big names, big speeds, big accidents…