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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/6/15 3:07 p.m.

Sliding behind the wheel of this low-slung, wide-open roadster is like stepping into an episode of “Speed Racer.” This thing seems more like a space ship than a sports car. Given a chance to go all out on the long course at legendary Sebring Raceway, I instantly realize that today is going to be di…

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nderwater
nderwater PowerDork
8/6/15 3:49 p.m.

Everything about this is fantastic. A+

Spitsix
Spitsix GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
8/6/15 8:08 p.m.

I know of a guy that builds them new.

gjz30075
gjz30075 Reader
8/7/15 6:16 a.m.

Thanks for that, Tim. Written for the 'everyman' who will most likely never experience this type of car.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/7/15 7:27 a.m.

I try real hard to put you guys behind the wheel. Driving for my enjoyment does you no good, but hopefully my stories like the Lola one do.

Man the sacrifice I make for you guys. I will most likely be sainted after my death.

I am looking for more drives like this in street or race cars for 2016

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
8/7/15 10:54 a.m.

T70's are also one of the best looking race cars ever built too, in my opinion. Good to know the drive lives up to its looks!

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
8/7/15 11:27 a.m.

Wow, nice writing. I want to try that now. The writing style reminds me of a story about driving a nitro altered (that I can't find now). Wish I could do it (either one).

Tom1200
Tom1200 Reader
8/7/15 9:33 p.m.

Tim I read that article with great interest as it conveyed what I try to tell people; once you get past a certain level, and the Lola is well past that level, these cars are not "fun". What they are is biggest adrenaline rush on wheels you could ever experience and something you better treat very serious. You also did a great job conveying the closing speeds / how quickly scenery arrived.

Tom

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/8/15 12:15 a.m.

Tom, thanks. It is nice to get feedback, as we try so hard to figure out what readers want.

erohslc
erohslc Dork
8/9/15 3:35 p.m.

Way back in the day (1971?), a T70 was campaigned at Miami-Hollywood Speedway, a tight little 1.5 mile track consisting of a dragstrip, return road with a couple of esses, and two connecting turns. The T70 was obsolete even then, but it was still heady and exciting to be in the same pit and on the same track during events.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
8/12/15 12:34 a.m.

erohslc

Cool story. It is funny how many cars were run long after they were competitive.

t25torx
t25torx HalfDork
8/12/15 9:29 a.m.

I need moar pics! Excellent writing.

shadetree30
shadetree30 Reader
9/6/15 9:10 a.m.

You drive in the tire tracks of John Surtees.

'Nuff said...

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
9/6/15 9:44 a.m.

I really enjoyed this article. Now if Brian Johnson could write an essay about what it's like watching some guy drive his half-million-dollar racecar around Sebring at 180 mph.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
9/6/15 3:39 p.m.

Brian didn't write that essay, but he has written a very funny car book that I am currently reading. And thanks guys for the complements on my writing. We have more of these types of stories planned including one on a Lister Tiger and a very fast Boss 302 Mustang.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
9/8/15 12:08 a.m.

Would that be "Rockers & Rollers?"

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
9/8/15 1:19 a.m.

Yes, I believe that is the title

beaglevt
beaglevt New Reader
10/1/15 7:36 p.m.

I have an acquaintance in St. Augustine who drives a coupe (street legal), and takes it to track days occasionally. It helps to have no inspection for a Florida registration. He tells me the turning radius is such that he has to floor it and do a donut to turn around in his restaurant parking lot (O(outa) C(control) White's)! What a car these are! :

PaulW
PaulW New Reader
11/5/16 7:47 a.m.

If that T70 has nasty handling, there's something seriously out of whack. It's always been known as the sweetest-handling of all the classic Can-Am cars. Surtees developed it for "customers," by which he meant less-than-genius race drivers who could win by just having a lot of power and not making any mistakes. It's got a stiff chassis, good aerodynamics, ideal weight distribution and suspension geometry. Set up right, it should handle like mine: mild understeer, with the rear moving out if you lift. Adding power tends to plant the rear and add to the understeer. It's all predictable and progressive, assuming you don’t do anything stupid.

It sounds as if Johnson’s T70 needs some chassis tuning. Get out your Carroll Smith books to see what this is all about. It’s complicated. When I got mine on the track after restoring it, it understeered like an old Buick. It took me two years of development to get it right. I optimized the tire pressures by measuring inside and outside temperatures.  I added some rear toe-in for stability, stiffened the rear bar, modified the caster, raised the rear ride height, finally hugely increased the rear spring rate to increase the rear roll stiffness. Finally it got to the point where I could fine-tune it with the bars.

A T70 should feel stable and reassuring, and that power is great fun. On most tracks, though, I could do a better lap time in a Sports 2000 than in mine. The T70, in correct original spec, is a heavy, half-century-old race car, with long braking distances and limited grip. Nearly all you see now (but not Johnson’s) are replicas made in Florida, that have 2-300 hp more than they had when new, and stickier tires. They go much faster, but they’re not the real thing.
Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
11/5/16 8:09 a.m.

PaulW, Interesting point. As I haven't driven more than one of these amazing cars, I am not sure what others are like. I know that Sebring is a particularly tough and bumpy track and that Heritage Motorsports, one of the best race shops in the country preps the car. These guys also run the Rolex 24 at Daytona in Prototypes, so I assume they know Carroll Smith's excellent book by heart.

fasted58
fasted58 UltimaDork
11/5/16 8:26 a.m.

Needs hotlink pic for better effect.

6pak72
6pak72 New Reader
11/5/16 9:20 a.m.

This summer I had a similar experience. I'm a DE instructor and our club, COMSCC, headed to Mosport for a Time Trial weekend.

I'd never driven CTMSP, and finished second place .5 behind the class winner- not bad for under 4 hours on track. But...I drive a Miata. I too, read "War and Peace" on the straights.

My student's 911 GT3RS Twin Turbo was a bit different...I wish I had the presence of mind to have video'd the day, but I was too busy prayng to anything I could think of.

There's something primal about leaving the bottom of the hill at 45mph, and entering the braking zone at the top of the Sam Posey straight at 167mph...yes, that's off his AIM data. And he was complaining that the day before he had done 171 and wondered if his tires were going off...

It was impressive as hell. Thank God he was a great driver - I solo'd him after the first few runs and he proceeded to eat up everything else on the track.

Too much fun.

kman91
kman91
1/8/18 8:21 a.m.

When I was a teen (back in 1988) I built and drove a '68 Mustang (and still have it).  My father hadn't been into cars since his youth and didn't really understand my obsession with them, but he knew I liked them and told me his neighbor had a "race car".  I responded with a muted eyebrow raise.  "It's probably some junky Nova drag racing car." I thought.

The next time I drove past his neighbor, I looked into the lit garage.  Sitting there under flourescent lights was a swoopy fiberglass dream, not yet finished, but obviously beautiful.  I had never seen a car like that up close.  I nearly drove into the ditch on the turn up ahead because I was still looking at that car.

Next time I had a chance, I walked over to the neighbor.  I had never met him before, and thought about how weird it might be to someone (with a big yard) to walk near his garage (his personal space) unannounced, but he welcomed me and showed me his T70 Lola!  He said it had raced in several famous races, once with Dan Hill (IIRC).

Over the next few years I got to know him and his beautiful car, and even a little of his remarkable original Cooper Mini that was roughly the size of my lawn mower.  He said it had been an open cockpit racer and he had converted it to a closed cockpit.  It looked so much cooler (IMHO) as a closed cockpit, so much like the Can Am Porsches of the day (from my slot car set!).  It was so beautiful, even in primer grey.  Those magnesium wheels were cool as well.

He said he was building it for his retirement.  I couldn't believe he wasn't going to drive it, just once (?!).  He moved away long ago, and I bet he got his retirement!

cosworth1
cosworth1 New Reader
3/3/21 5:10 p.m.

Wouldn't expect anything less from Mr. Johnson. The man is a lunatic both on and off the stage.

Good read.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
3/11/21 9:30 a.m.

In reply to cosworth1 :

I have gotten to know Brian pretty well. While an absolute hellion and the pure definition of a rock star, he has been nothing but nice to us. I was co-judging with him at our Concours d' Cancelation last fall, and he starts by telling us he isn't in our league when talking about the race cars we were judging. He then proceeds to explain what they are like to drive at places like Sebring and Lemans. So modest, for one of the most successful musicians ever.

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