Led by a secretive man and having a spy for a mascot, Shadow remains one of the most mysterious racing teams in history, despite competing at the top level in Can-Am and F1. Time for Shadow to come into the light?
Don Nichols died in 2017, leaving behind a borderline incredible life account. A small child in the 1920s, a tornado hurled him into the woods and left him an orphan. Growing up, he left school to enlist in the U.S. Army. As a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, he landed in Normandy on D-Day and also fought in Korea. Later he joined the Military Intelligence, being posted to Japan with his family at the height of the Cold War - though never outright denying it, he never confirmed if he was ever at the service of the CIA. As his covert assignments winded down, now fluent in Japanese, he became a leading figure in Japan's rising motorsport scene.
He started importing and racing cars from the U.S., quickly becoming the go-to guy for all things motorsport-related - even Toyota bought parts through him. He struck deals with Goodyear and Firestone and even somehow managed to get Sir Stirling Moss to help with the construction of the Fuji International Speedway. By then, he was not only very wealthy, he was extremely well connected in the international racing scene, all while remaining a mystery to most - "He knew everyone, but few people knew him." - wrote Pete Lyons in 'Shadow: The Magnificent Machines of a Man of Mystery'.
In 1969, his Advanced Vehicle Systems debuted the first Shadow in Can-Am. The concept revolved around a low frontal surface, tiny, almost cartoonish wheels and, of course, a giant 7-litre American V8. It wasn't a success by all accounts, but the tiny missile captured the public's imagination and got people talking. This led the team to keep pushing and, in 1974, they finally won big. Beating out Ferraris, Porsches and McLarens, the sinister-looking Shadow DN04 grabs both top places in the Can-Am championship.
Shadow also crossed the Atlantic to see some success in Formula One, especially in qualifying trim. The lack of reliability and constant budget issues meant that they would know the taste of victory only once in F1, winning the 1977 Austrian GP with the Australian Alan Jones driving the Cosworth V8-powered DN07 to their maiden and lone victory.
Through hardship and tragedy, lack of money and pilot fatalities, much like its battle-hardened and crafty leader, the underdog team knew many setbacks but never backed down, always finding unconventional ways to keep going for more than a decade against the world's best. Shadow Racing's few but notable successes are a part of racing history, but Don Nichols, the man behind the curtain, his life will remain enshrouded in mystery.
80% Combed Cotton, 17% Polyamide, 3% Elastane. We use seamless knitting to create a sock with no stitches.
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