My Formula 5000
1976
Don Nichols
Shadow
Phoenix Racing
By Rob Buller

Don Nichols wants one of his Shadows to win the Labatt’s Blue Formula
5000 race at Mosport on June 20 (1976).
Now, most team owners want to win races but the Mosport 5000 event is
a special one for the Chicago based Shadow Team. “We have always
had a good reception in Canada,” said team owner Nichols recently, “and
we know there are many Shadow fans at Mosport. We’d like to do well for
them as well as for ourselves.”
Despite financial constraints caused by the withdrawal of their long-term
sponsor, UOP, Nichols has completed a comprehensive re-fit for his
F5000 effort this year. The heart of the re-fit will be a new Dodge engine,
the first to appear on the F5000 scene. For the driving chores, Nichols
has regular pilot
Jackie Oliver.
Jackie is no stranger to Mosport, having competed here in Formula One,
Can Am and F5000 machines. He has been the regular Shadow driver
since 1970 and won the Can-Am championship for the team in 1974. At
34 years of age he is regarded as a highly competitive driver who is a
threat anytime he is one the track. Despite the mechanical gremlins that
plagued Jackie’s Shadow in the 1975 Labatt’s Blue 5000 Race, he
managed an impressive second fastest lap time to Brian Redman’s Lola.
Redman finished second in that race after chasing winner Mario Andretti
for the entire distance. Jackie Oliver came home sixth after mechanical
problems in his qualifying heat put him at the back of the grid for the
feature.
Development work on the DN6 5000 car has continued over the winter,
under direction of Chief Mechanic Ed Stone and Engine builder Lee Muir.
Stone joined the 5000 effort late in 1975 and immediately set about
making chassis and suspension changes.
“Basically the 1975 season progressed with little development; there
wasn’t much time,’‘ Stone said in a recent telephone interview, “I was
asked to make some suspension changes and the car was more
competitive at the last race at Riverside with Jody Schecter driving.”
But the heart of the Shadow development is the new Chrysler power-
plant, a joint venture between Shadow and Chrysler’s Plymouth Division.
The engine starts life as a 340 cu. in. stock block that is down-stroked to
305 cu. inches. It is fitted with the same injection system that is used on
Richard Petty’s NASCAR Dodge.
Chrysler, which is heavily involved in NASCAR and Drag racing, is new to
F5000 racing, a class that has been dominated by the rugged Chevrolet
5 litre engine. As a part of their new kit-car package now under
development, Chrysler has contracted with Shadow to do the engine
development and sorting. They supply the engine components to
Shadow engine expert Lee Muir, who then hand builds and dyno tests
each engine. Chrysler also helps with technical information and advice to
Muir, who came to Shadow from McLaren’s engine department.
The first outing in 1976 for the Shadow Dodge DN6 was at Pocono,
Pennsylvania for the Series opener. Although they weren’t quite ready
for the Pocono race, they were very encouraged with the results. Oliver
was lying third in his qualifying heat when a connecting rod developed
terminal stretch. As they only had one dyno’d engine a spare practice
unit was installed for the feature. However, a fuel pump seal split on the
grid and  it took 5 laps to change. By the time he joined the fray Oliver
was hopelessly behind but by charging hard he was able to run with the
leaders.
With that encouraging performance Stone and Muir returned to Phoenix
Racing headquarters in Chicago and started preparation of the Shadow
for the Mosport race. Further chassis mods have been made utilizing new
springs, roll bars and revised suspension settings. To help weight
distribution, the water rads have been moved forward a la McLaren Indy
car. Muir  will have three completely dyno’d engines ready for Mosport.
Sponsorship for the F5000 effort is a problem for Shadow. Since the
departure of UOP, Nichols has been unable to get the full 5000 program
underwritten. Various sponsors are now supporting the Formula One
effort on a per race basis while only Goodyear Valvoline and, of course,
Chrysler are behind the 5000 effort. Thus Shadow must watch their
budget closely and this, the team feels, will restrict the amount of
development t they can attempt. Nonetheless the 5000 effort has Don
Nichols full support and he won’t field cars unless he can be competitive.
And with the driver, new engine and chassis changes he plans to be
competitive. .
Jackie Oliver
Shadow DN6
Don Nichols
Belt Buckle