Formula Racing Team
For six years the Formula Racing team, from Toronto, Canada have
been major contenders in Formula 5000. In recent years the blue Lolas
from Canada, driven by Eppie Wietzes and managed by Joan Clayton,
have become more and more competitive so that last year Wietzes
hounded the tail pipes of Brian Redman and Mario Andretti in race after
But this year it hasn't been quite like that for Eppie Wietzes. This year he
and his small, privately financed little team bought themselves a Lola
T400 and for the first few races they struggled hopelessly in the midfield.
After a hard-earned fifth place finish at Mosport, Wietzes, his racing suit
soaked in sweat, said miserably, “I don’t even want to race if the season
is gonna be like this.”
The next week Wietzes, his son Mike and chief mechanic Dennis Swan,
sat down and decided to make some radical alterations to their T400.
Ideally, they would have liked to buy a T332, but that would have cost a
lot of money and it seemed too that with all their experience perhaps they
could make the T400 into a good racing car.
So it was that they threw away the rear suspension, threw away most of
the bodywork and drastically redesigned the front suspension. They
finished the car that night before practice at Watkins Glen and the next
day, running the rebuilt car for the first time, they began to think that
perhaps all their work had been a waste of time. The stopwatch gave
them no heart at all and by the end of the day Eppie himself was
All night they worked on the car and the next day they began to notice
signs of progress. By the end Of the day with the race to follow
immediately, Swan and Wietzes and the rest of the Formula Racing team,
although reserved and contained, were suggesting that they might yet be
able to make their car work. The race brought them another fifth place
finish and a long, long list of new ideas.
In the two weeks before the next race they dialed in their modified Lola
even more. Again they went through the car completely and again they
arrived at a race with it untested. But this time they thought they were
ready. And they were.
The race yielded a third place, a smile on the faces of every member of
the team, and the fastest Lola T400 ever. Now they were looking eagerly
ahead at the rest of the season.
They had done something which no other team had been able to do.
They had made a T400 go quickly. But even more than that they had
done it themselves with no help from anyone. For a group of amateurs,
with only the chief mechanic receiving a salary, it was a remarkable
achievement. Somehow it was better than anything else they had done
all through those six, long years before.
|L-R Mrs. Wietzes, Peter Felter, Joan Clayton
|Joan Clayton, Team Manager