THE UOP SHADOW GRUDGE RACE


The Can-Am series of the 1970s was very competitive. This series included some of the fastest race cars ever built. The drivers were no slouches either! Names like Revson,Hulme,Donohue,Holbert, Oliver,Follmer,ect. bring back many memories. This story will focus on two of these drivers: Jackie Oliver and George Follmer.
If my memory is right it was October 1974. That year Jackie Oliver won the Can-Am championship in a UOP Shadow. His teammate in a second UOP Shadow was George Follmer. Follmer had won the championship in 1972(in a Porsche 917-10). These were two good drivers! During '74 Follmer had finished second to Oliver in more than one race. In the later part of that season Follmer was really getting upset as the Shadow team boss ordered him race after race not to win and let Oliver take the victory for points toward the series title. I forget what race it was but Follmer took a win against the team owner's wishes! This didn't go over very good with Follmer's boss. Oliver wasn't happy with Follmer either. The press got a hold of this and the rivalry was public knowledge now. For the rest of the season this was like a dark cloud over the Shadow team. Well to make a long story short, Oliver took the series title that year. After the season Follmer told many sources, had he wanted to, he could of beat Oliver in just about any race they ran that year if it hadn't been for team orders. In fact, Follmer challenged Oliver to a race in which any type of car be used as long as they (the cars) were equal. Well the owner of the Shadow team seeing this as a great PR opportunity agreed to the use of three of his Shadow Can-Am cars in a grudge race between Oliver and Follmer. The third car would be driven by a neutral person not connected to the Shadow team. Just some extra competition for these two rivial drivers. It was decided this match would be run at Watkins Glen during the October Grand Prix weekend.
The third driver was, UOP team driver, Jean Pierre Jarier. Anyways, this was a 15 lap race and once it got underway, Follmer was a man possessed. He drove his heart out. Shortly into this race the third driver had had enough and dropped out. He wanted out of the way of these two guys and no part of this action! It didn't take Follmer long before he was out of sight of Oliver. It wasn't even a contest! By the time the checkered flag fell Follmer had left Oliver WAY behind. He may of been close to lapping Oliver if I remember right. I do know one thing for sure; Follmer beat the champ real bad, HANDS DOWN! It was great. The crowd loved it. A underdog winning! It was the loudest applause I've ever heard for a race at the Glen. George Follmer showed the world that day HE was the BEST driver on that Shadow team. I never remember seeing Follmer in a Shadow after that weekend. Can't say as I blame him.

Can you imagine a race such as this today? No way. It wouldn't be allowed these days! Too bad. I can think of some real interesting matches...F1 vs Cart, NASCAR vs Trans-Am, ect. I know we have IROC but it's just not the same as two rivals going at it tooth and nail!
This duel happened when racing was racing and most of the time the better man won. Money was a factor back then but not nearly as much as it is today. Talent still counts but that green stuff is even more important now. And that's the big difference between then and now.

I don't care who was on that track with George Follmer during that race, be it todays or yester-years drivers, I'm thoroughly convinced NO ONE could have beat him that October 1974 weekend!

By the way this was the same weekend the Greyhound bus was burned at the Bog but that's another story. (See The Bog)


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