The late Eighties and early Nineties were a very special in North American road racing history. In Canada and the USA, there were several healthy showroom stock series that kept fans on their feet at race tracks across the continent. Of those series, the two most exciting were the Player’s Challenge for Camaros and Firebirds and the Rothmans Porsche series. These two series stand out not only because of the depth of talent and close fought battles, but also because of the incredible personalities driving the cars.
One of the most endearing and enduring personalities of both of those series was NASCAR road course ace Ron Fellows. As a working driver, Big Ron would often miss qualifying due to other races (he still does that today) and would work his way from the back of the grid, up to the podium. The car you see above is the car that Fellows drove in the 1990 Rothmans Turbo Cup series. In ’88 and ’89, it was raced by Ted Powell. The ’90 season ended in Halifax at the Moosehead Grand Prix. During the race, Fellows was taken out by Uli Bieri and backed the car hard into the concrete barriers. The fuel cell ruptured and the car caught fire.
Over the past 15 years, the car has been restored to as raced condition. In fact, the factory sealed engine still wears the series seals. As of this writing, there are 3 days left on the auction, where the car has a buy it now price of $130,000. To say this car is a unique piece of Canadian racing history would be an understatement. What makes it even more unique is the fact that the car comes with all of the original documentation and many of the spares that were supplied to competitors by the factory.
As a relatively recent series, much of the media surrounding the series, along with the stories of those involved still exist meaning that the racing history of this car is far more intact than that of some older race cars.
Video of the Ron Fellow’s crash at the Moosehead Grand Prix:
Notice the old school chivalry as John Graham stopped on track to help get Fellows out of the burning car.
Ray Johnson gives a bit of background about the events leading up to the crash:
My brother and I were the Chief marshals for the duration of the Moosehead GP’s run in Halifax. We had a huge fight with the Course designer and race organizers about the placement of the marshal stand which originally was to be placed at the exact point of impact. That fight ended at 2 am when we walked off the site, during Friday set up telling the Clerk of the Course that we would refuse to deploy marshals on race day if the placement was not shifted further to the left (Camera’s left) and out of harm’s way. It was redone properly by morning. Had it not been done, people would have been injured because the impact was so hard, it drove the jersey barrier well back into the area where the stand was to have been placed. This incident was a vindication, albeit not a great one. At least Ron got out intact. The marshals, Paul Napier and others did an amazing job of putting the car out.
Corner marshal Paul Napier recalls:
I distinctly remember us standing there with our extinguisher nozzles poked through the chain link fence spraying down the flames, while noticing un-ignited gasoline flowing in at us under the barriers and pooling around our feet. Very … volatile feeling … to use a phrase! It struck me how the grand stand broke out in applause when it was all over, like the end of a scene in a Broad Way play. I know they were applauding out of relief to see it all turn out well, but it was surreal to observe the event as Ã¢â‚¬Å“part of the event Ã¢â‚¬Å“ and then hear the crowd’s reaction.
Brad Brown was the Rothmans series director in 1990 and gives more details of the race:
John Graham was racing the Moosehead sponsored Porsche and was also the promoter of the event. He stopped on the track and got Ron out of the car. As I recall, the impact moved the concrete barrier back about 4 feet and the event was stopped for quite a while for repairs. The promoter decided to finish the remaining races on the schedule before letting us resume and our race had to be given the checkered prematurely because it was dark. Unfortunately, the starter was affected by the darkness as well and threw the flag at the wrong Denon car. David Tennyson was leading but Doug Griesbach was running close to last if not last. Then Tennyson tangled with another car on the last lap and crashed giving the win to Bill Adam. It took me a day to wade through the FIA yellow book and find out that when the flag is given to the wrong car the results go back to the previous lap and so Tennyson won after all.
The seller of #35 had also dug up video of a couple of other races from the 1990 series, which show Ron Fellows proving why he is a fan favorite as he storms through the pack in #35.
Round 3 was at Mont Tremblant
Round 4 was at Mosport and was actually a supporting race for the 24 hour Firehawk race. Mrs. Grant and I were crewing for Kat Teasdale’s Firehawk series Trans Am that weekend and even after a 24 hour race, there was plenty of excitement around the Rothmans series. Watching Ron Fellows and Richard Spenard battle side by side through corners 8, 9 AND 10 is nothing short of spectacular!
If you’ve got an extra 130 grand burning a hole in your jeans, this could be your chance to own a true piece of Canadian racing history!