Jody Scheckter was born in East London on the east coast of South Africa, a sleepy seaside town that actually carried the honour of being the country’s motorsport centre up until the early 1960s. In 1973, Scheckter, by then a 23-year old fast-climbing motorsport star, had moved ‘overseas’ and had been criss-crossing the Atlantic between England and America, competing in different racing series on both sides of the river. It was sometime near the start of the ’73 season that he got a call from Vasek Polak to drive the Porsche 917/10 Can-Am Spyder, a hairy monster if ever there was one.
The Porsche 917 had, during the 1970 and 1971 seasons, been the most dominant sports racing prototype the world had known up until that time. But at the end of the ’71 season, the regulations governing the World Manufacturers’ Championship outlawed the big 5-litre Group 5 prototypes (not to be confused with the later-Group 5 silhouette class) in favour of the new 3-litre Sports category, and so several 917 owners took their cars off to race in the European Interserie. In fact, the 917 was already being campaigned in the Interserie in 1971 in the hands of privateer teams and drivers, such as Willi Kauhsen and the Finnish AAW team. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, so let us start the Group 7 Can-Am story with the first 917 to race in America.
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