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Forgotten F1 Teams - Shadow Racing // A brief look at the team who preceded Arrows in Formula One

Published by Christine

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This is the third episode of Forgotten F1 Teams – a miniseries brought to you by Sidepodcast. In these episodes we are looking at teams who aren’t racing anymore, but should be remembered, either for doing very well, or maybe floundering a little bit. Today, we’re looking at Shadow Racing.

The company behind Shadow Racing was founded by Don Nichols, a mysterious man with an unknown background. He set up his base in America and called the company Advanced Vehicle Systems. They produced a car and called it Shadow, ready to race in the CanAm series. At the end of 1972, Nichols confirmed they would be making the step up to Formula One the next season, with major sponsorship from Universal Oil Products - UOP.

The team made their debut at the South African Grand Prix, with Jackie Oliver and George Follmer – two drivers brought along from the CanAm team. They also supplied a car to Graham Hill, who was racing under his own Embassy Hill brand. Results were mixed. Follmer had a great start to the season, on the podium at the team’s second race. Oliver struggled with retirements until the penultimate round, where he equalled Follmer’s third.

1974 was a difficult year for the team. Peter Revson and Jean-Pierre Jarier were in the driving seats, but retired from the first two races. In practice for the next South Africa Grand Prix, Revson was killed when his car suffered suspension failure and crashed. The team withdrew from the weekend. After a couple of driver changes, Tom Pryce was drafted in to replace Revson. Once again, a third place was the highlight of the season, this time in Austria.

A new year, and some continuity with their drivers, Shadow introduced the DN5 chassis with a new Cosworth engine. The new car helped Tom Pryce win the Race of Champions, whilst Jarier secured pole position at the first two Grands Prix, although he finished neither of them. Midway through the year, the DN7 was brought in with a Matra engine. There doesn’t seem to have been a DN6. It was raced for only a couple of weekends, before Matra chose another team to partner. Shadow finished 6th in the championship, which was to be their highest position.

The beginning of the next season saw UOP pull their sponsorship from the team, leaving Shadow with very little money to pour into development. The results suffered, with just one podium and a couple of points finishes seeing them 10th in the constructors at the end of the year. Jarier left the team after the season ended.

1977 was another turbulent year. Once again the South African Grand Prix saw tragedy, as Tom Pryce was fatally injured in a terrible collision that also claimed the life of a marshal. One car had stopped out on track and caught fire, and as two marshals ran across with fire extinguishers, Pryce came upon the incident unsighted. The accident rocked the team, but they weren’t about to give up.

Alan Jones was brought in to replace Pryce, and the team’s results began to pick up. Jones scored an unexpected win at the Austrian GP, so unexpected that organisers didn’t have the Australian national anthem ready for him. Jones also picked up a third place before the season was over. It was the second car that let the team down that year with no less than five drivers having a go, between them only scoring two sixth places.

At the end of the year, Jones left to join Williams, and quite a lot of the staff formed their own team in the shape of Arrows. The newly formed Arrows team were actually sued by Shadow for copying their chassis, and when the claim was upheld, Arrows had to design their own model.

This may have been a blessing in disguise for Arrows, though, as results for Shadow Racing were now few and far between. 1979 saw the team use the exact same chassis as the previous year, and by 1980, the team were slipping backwards fast. After several races saw the team fail to qualify, Nichols put a halt to proceedings and shut the team down. He sold the assets to what would become Theodore Racing.

That’s all for this episode. Let me know your thoughts about this team, and about the series by visiting sidepodcast.com or by calling the voicemail on 0121 28 87225. I will be back tomorrow with the fourth instalment of Forgotten F1 Teams.

Theme music: Bloc Party, I Still Remember.

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