The 1970 was the beginning of a new age, one that saw the Vietnam War still raging ,the Beatles break up and the War Measures Act invoked in Canada. The world of motorsport was also beginning a new age one filled with triumph and tragedy . Denis Hulme won the Can Am Championship but the championship was over shadowed by the death of his boss , team mate and friend. Bruce Mclaren crashed heavily at Goodwood Circuit while testing his latest creation. The year brought further tragedy with the death of Jochen Rindt who was awarded the Formula One Championship posthumously . This was the first and only time this has happened. More tragedy came as long time Trans Am racer Jerry Titus lost his life while practising for a race at Road America. Titus was partnered with Canadian business man Terry Godsall the previous year . Godsall left TG Racing in 1970 after becoming dissatisfied with SCCA leadership leaving Titus to be both engineer and driver. Formula One saw for the first time drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, Clay Regazzonni, Ronnie Peterson and Francois Cevert compete . Fittipaldi and Regazonni went on to win their first F1 race in 1970. However 1970 would be the last time that Jack Brabham and Pedro Rodriquez would win a race. American actor Steve McQueen driving a Porsche with co driver Peter Revson finished 2nd in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Other firsts in 1970 included the Grand Prix of Israel for Formula 2 cars. The race was cancelled at the last minute because the crowd could not be controlled. Before the sudden cancellation a Formula Vee support race did happen and Swedish Driver Bertil Roos came away with the victory. Roos went on to win the US Formula Super Vee championship a few years later . He raced in Formula Atlantic and F2 before having a one shot deal with the UOP Shadow F1 Team. He later purchased Fred Opert’s Racing school where he was chief instructor. USAC Indy Car Championship was won by Al Unser Sr. on both asphalt and dirt tacks , it would be the last time that the series would run on dirt. Other notable events included the first running of the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, Tyrell, March, Bellasi and Surtees became F1 Manufacturers and March won their first F1 race and go onto to finishing third in the championship with help of Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon.
On the local scene Ottawa saw its first and only Canada Day Races at the Rockcliffe Air Base. The 2.2 mile circuit was part of the Gulf Canada Series for the Canadian Road Racing Championship . Admission was free and over 25,000 fans came out for the race.
The race was won by Eppie Weitzes . The wet conditions saw many drivers spin, including Weitzes. Craig Hill driving a Formula “B” car finished second. Ludwig Heimrath, in his first outing in Formula “A” was third. Horst Kroll was fourth.
Fans were also treated to some great sports car racing with drivers like local driver Gordon Dewar and his JNO Racing Camaro. Who admited that JNO simply was short form for “Just Never Organized”. Another local Ted Powell was both Race Director and competitor. Don Horner, Scott Mackenzie ,Ken Huband names were were added to the list of local drivers.
Other local events included ice races at Dows Lake in downtown Ottawa and the Gatineau Hill Climb at Camp Fortune. Sadly this venue would no longer be allowed to use due a National Capital Commission ban of recreational vehicles on NCC owned property. Dows Lake Ice Races suffered the same fate years later.
This was the beginning of a decade that saw motorsport begin to grow worldwide. This was the beginning of decade that saw innovation in race car design take the fore front. This was the decade that saw great concerns for drivers safety that led to safer cars. This was the decade that saw some of the greatest race cars ever built. The ground pounding Can Am cars of Mclaren and the dominating Porsche 917 . This was the decade that saw many great drivers die while pursuing their love of racing. This was one of the greatest and tragic decades in motorsport.
The information/ photos were gathered from the following sources with thanks
Motor Racing in the 70’s
Racing Heroes Hemmings News
MCO the First 50 Years