My Formula 5000
The elements that comprise Interscope Racing are apparent: ex-Shelby
crew chief Carroll Smith, two very ambitious young drivers,
Jon Woodner
Danny Ongais, two racing cars, a Lola and a Talon, and money,
copious amounts of money supplied by Ted Field.
It is the intangible element, however, that gives the team its cohesiveness
and flavor. That element a dream, a big dream. The dream is Formula-
One, Woodner and Ongasis as drivers,Smith as
Carroll Smith, a gregarious, candid technician, whose personage is
topped by his trade-mark Australian bush hat, is not rushing into the
complexities of constructing his own car.
“Well, I’ll start with an F-5000 car, not next year, but the year after.
Designing a race car should be done in one shot. I’ll go up to my
mountain cabin and won’t come down until I have a complete set of
drawings. I think you need that kind of detachment from the day to day
working on cars to get the job done properly.”
While the actual design and construction of Smith’s cars is some time off,
the R&D is ongoing. Through most of ‘75, the team was comprised of two
race cars, both with large problems to be solved. While that is not the
ideal set up for short term results, it is the optimum laboratory for
exploring and overcoming problems of race car design. Whether the
situation was intentional or not. Smith seemed I to enjoy the challenge.
“The Talon has been a handful, but it seems to be coming around. There
is no communication with (Talon constructor Jack) McCormick anymore.
Everything we learn stops right here.”
The Interscope Lola 400, driven most of the season by Danny Ongais,
was something of an intergenerational bastard (both literally and
“When we saw the 400 was a regression we did everything we could to
turn it back into a 332. About the only thing left of the 400 is the tub and
even that has 332 bulkheads. It’s still listed as a 332 on the programs,
but it should be called a 366. There seems to be no reason why it should
not be a good racing car, but it’s just not.”
Interscopes’ number one driver, Jon Woodner, is difficult to judge. His
year of darting and twitching around the race tracks of North America has
been.a major disappointment, but how much it attributable to Woodner
and how much to the Talon is difficult to surmise. The best bet is that
most of the trouble was with the car.
The Northern Californian is a quick and gutsy driver who possesses oval
track advantages that help mightily in modern, commercial racing. He is
good looking, adept at business and enjoys minor sponsorship (in the
form of credit cards) from his well to do family. He is also doggedly
Danny Ongais’s potential as a driver appears to be greater than
Woodner’s. The former drag racing star brought to road racing a
polished, professional attitude and is an extremely hard worker. He
appears safe and in control on the track, but at the same time drives with
the flare of someone willing to explore the limits. His disappointing
performances in the 400 can be written off to the car. When he had a
332 under him Ongais was impressive. He ended the year at Riverside
by driving the ex-BJ Swanson, Bob Bay Lola in a comfortable fifth place
all throughout the race only to have a last lap accident drop him to
The prospect of Woodner, Ongais, Smith and Field progressing as a unit
to Formula One is a long shot at best. But, dreams are powerful things,
not easily put off. It will be fascinating watching the Interscope group act
upon theirs.

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Interscope Racing
Danny Ongais
Jon Woodner