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I spent some time yesterday researching a little more about the 1967 Can-AM challenge cup and Chevrolet's R&D departments (Design and Racing) involvement in this series. We all have heard about and seen a few pictures and articles recently about the Cherokee's that were Bill Mitchell and Vince Piggin's projects and served as the pace car for that 6 circuit series driven by Can-Am commissioner and race car driver Sterling Moss. We have a picture that Steve shared a few weeks back of this car pulling into the pit lane at the start of the Mosport race appearing to be drag racing the Can-Am cars and with that engine I bet it gave the crowd a real show!
But another interesting item I found was it appears that GM Racing was also providing or supporting a few teams that season with experimental (Aluminum Block) 7 liters engines (sounds like early ZL-1 427's). The first being Chaparrel Car's Inc., (Chaparrel model 2G, Number 66) car owned and driver by Texas racer Jim Hall (sporting an aluminum 7 liter with 570 bhp). His car is bright white with what appears to be black numbering and interior, but I have also seen some pictures where it appears blue...
The other group was Roger Pensky Racing (aluminum 7 liters with 550 bhp) who had two Lola cars running with drivers Donohue and Follmer in this series.
These all aluminum 427 engines ran multiple weber carburators.
The Cherokee is said to have had a 396 (375 hp) L-78 with Webers, but I'm wondering if it might have instead come with one of those Experimental ZL-1's as this would have made more sense with Mitchell, Piggins and GM Racing Department's involvement?
Another thing I wonder is with Chevrolet being so involved in this series in terms of the engine support, and Cherokee pacers, wouldn't we expect that when Chevrolet brought their entourage to the track that there would have been more going on then just the one (or two) Cherokee pacers being driven by Steerling Moss there? The mutiple weber carbed engines were quite tempermental, they were all out racing components (the same used on the actual Can Am race cars), and chevrolet had to have a special group following these Cherokee's around to assure they wasn't any problems with the official pace car of the Can-Am series...
I imagine there LOTS more to be learning about this car and the exact extent of Chevrolet's involvment in the series....
Let get a discussion started and I've contacted the Cherokee owner Terry Lietzau to join us here as this car is indeed a very important 1967 camaro pace car!
Here's Terry's homepage for the Cherokee. Cherokee Site Check out his vintage pictures taken of the car sitting in GM's design area and being worked on!!!This message has been edited. Last edited by: RickDawn67,
Here's the Cherokee letting the Can-Am cars go at Mosport on Sept. 23, 1967 at the Player's 200. (same sponsor as the Canadian Grand Prix that used all the Canadian Centenial/Festival GP pacers) - photo courtesy Steve, Thanks!!!
Here's an overview link and race links to a series of articles for each of the 6 races for the 1967 Can-Am series. Look closely for mentionings of Sterling Moss driving the "Camaro pace car" or the Cherokee and about the teams of Chaparrel/Jim Hall and Lola/Roger Penske Racing using the aluminum 7-liter engines. The are more references I'll add that discuss the Special aluminum 427 engines from GM R&D/Racing going to Jim Hall for Can-AM racing. I believe these engines were initial version's of GM ZL-1.
Here's the 1967 Can-Am series overview article.... 1967 Can-Am series
Here's the link to the first Can-Am series race at Elkhhart Lake, Wisconsin. Drawing of the start shows the Cherokee! Mention's Penske's 427's. One regular block and one lightweight block. Also mentions Hall's Chaparrel 2G with the 7 liter (427) all alloy engine. Race No. 1
Series No. 2. Bridgehampton, Long Island, NY Mentions Moss pacing the cars and darting into the pits at the start. Penske drops 427 for lighter SB's... Race No. 2
Series No. 3. Mosport - Mentions Moss driving the camaro pace car and now both of Penske's cars are lightweight aluminum 427's. Hall's Chaparrel is back in Texas being worked on. They mention 7.0 liter magnesium engine, but I beleive this is a typo and they meant aluminum. Race No. 3
Series No. 4 - Laguna Seca Aluminum 427's finish 2nd (Hall's Chaparrel) and 3rd (Follmer/Penske Lola)... Race No. 4
Series No. 5 - Riverside Aluminum 427's finsh 2nd (Hall's Chaparrel) and 3rd (Donohue/Penske Lola) Race No. 5
Last Series No. 6 - Stardust GP at Las Vegas Mention of Moss pacing the race. Aluminum 427 finishes 2nd (Donohue/Penske Lola) and Hall's Caparrel runs fastest lap Race No. 6
Here's more information on Chaparrel Cars Inc. woned by Jim Hall (Texas, GM Engineer). GM's ZL-1 Engine program was developed for the 1967 Can-Am series and Jim's Chaparrel 2G (no. 66) was the first to use it. It appears that Penske racing was also using this engine.
Chaparrel website.... Chaparrel link
More ZL-1 427 engine information from .org mentioning Hall's Can-Am Chapperal in 1967 and Penske/Donohue racing involvement in the Can-Am and Trans-Am series of the SCCA... ZL-1 Can-Am history
Vince Piggin's at GM was VERY involved in the aluminum 427 (ZL-1) and also being involved on the Cherokee Can-Am pacer having the same weber induction system as the Can-Am race cars you have to wonder about the engine in that car???This message has been edited. Last edited by: RickDawn67,
Picture of Cherokee pacing at 1st race in the series at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Picture from camaros.org
Tony and Guys....
What esle do we know or have heard about this car. Its appears that Terry's homepage has all the articles recently released and some good pictures.
Look at the two pictures on his homepage showing the car being built at GM Design with all the conceptual sketches on the wall and the rear end on the car being worked on. See the ralleys that were on it before the corvette wheels.... Amazing pics!!!!
Do we have anything?
I just was on the phone with the Cherokee owner, Terry Lietzau. Great down to earth guy and just into this car and other chevy's as a hobbie. I'm going to sending him a link to this string and he'll be joining us! He's not too computor savy, but I'm sure we can work through that.
He's considering coming to Carlisle (with Cherokee) this year and I just so happened to extend him an invitation to house it under our tent or whatever we're setting up! Tom, Tony and guys, I have his contact information and he'd like to speak with us about what needs to happen for him to bring it to Carlisle this year and I'm sure you can help him out. PM me for his contact information.
He's wanting to find out more about the car and is very willing to share whatever he has with us to help us get the facts on this unique car straight. We talked about quite a few things which I'm sure we can discuss further once he joins us here. Welcome Terry!
That sounds GREAT! Nice job! Best of all, it's a pace car too. I might have to reconsider heading to Carlilse if Cherokee is under the tent.
There was a great article in the November issue of Muscle Car Review about the Cherokee..
If anybody wants a copy I can scan it in to my Computer and Email it.......
I for one would love to see that cowl tag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Does this place you in Carlisle if the Cherokee is there?
My buddy Rod and I are planning on going this year.
It looks good at this time!
Just ask Terry and I'm sure he will share that and the VIN with you. I mentioned your name and said you were a main go-to guy for research and I'm sure you two will be able to figure out all sorts of questions he has about the car.
Did you know it's unrestored! Just the engine has been replaced as the 427 in it wasn't correct.
PM me and I'll give you his phone number. Oh.... It would be good that either you or Tom or someone call him as he's got a few questions about Carlisle, the event, etc. Terry's a really nice guy to talk with and I'd like to help him with his research and figuring out more about this car as it is a one, or two off pacer and deserves whatever attention we can give it!!!This message has been edited. Last edited by: RickDawn67,
I was wondering if you had a higher resolution of that Mosport Cherokee picture to share with Terry? Does the picture show a hood tach? Remember there are possibly two of these cars, one with a tach (Terry's) and another one without.... Besides the slightly different hoods and gas caps, the rims on the two cars are possibly also different...
Terry doesn't have any other pacer duty pics and your picture confirms the car also was at Mosport as prior to this picture he only had it at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin. I'll pretty sure it was at all six races....This message has been edited. Last edited by: RickDawn67,
Thanks for the offer! I believe that all the Magazine and book articles that have been written on the car can be found at Terry's Cherokee website that you can click on if you go to the opening portion of this string... Not sure about how clear they will print out, so we should check and see. Does anyone nhave any articles or information that isn't referenced in Terry's homepage???
I'll see what I can do about cleaning it up and emailing it to you. PM your email address. I know of a professional photographer that said he has a great 67 vintage photo of it, but it may be one in the public domain already. Will call him today, and email him. He must be in the witness protection program, really hard to make contact with.
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