Shadow Cars Inc.

Don Nichols was a mysterious character and there have been suggestions that his job - at least in the 1950s - was with the Central Intelligence Agency in the Far East. In the 1960s he was a dealer in Japan, selling Firestone and Goodyear tires and advising on the design of some of the Japanese race tracks.In the late 1960s he established Advanced Vehicle Systems Inc. in California and employed Trevor Harris to design a CanAm car. This was called a Shadow - the team badge featured a cloaked man - and was raced by George Follmer and Vic Elford in 1970. It was quick but not reliable.It was not until 1972 when the Shadow had been reworked by Peter Bryant into Mk3 form that it became more competitive with Jackie Oliver finishing eighth in the CanAm Championship and backing being found from Universal Oil Products. Towards the end of the year Nichols announced that he was going to enter F1 in 1973 with UOP-backed cars to be designed by Tony Southgate from BRM with a team run by Alan Rees of March. The drivers would be Oliver and Follmer. A deal was later organized for a third car to be sold to Graham Hill to be run in Embassy colors.With the team setting up in premises in Weedon, Southgate built the prototype in his garage at his home in Lincolnshire, close to the BRM base in Bourne. The Shadow-Cosworth DN1 needed some development but Follmer finished sixth on his F1 debut in South Africa and third in Spain in his second race. He did not score again but Oliver finished third in Canada and the team finished eighth in the World Championship despite having far too many accidents.While this was happening Oliver was also racing a Shadow DN2 in CanAm, this being run from Shadow's North American base in Chicago. The cars were run again in 1974 for Oliver and Follmer and finished 1-2 in the CanAm series with Oliver scoring four wins in five races, although opposition that season was not good and the series died out at the end of the year.For 1974 Nichols hired McLaren race winner Peter Revson to drive alongside European Formula 2 Champion Jean-Pierre Jarier. Southgate built the Shadow DN3. Revson retired in the first two races but finished sixth in the Race of Champions. He then went to South Africa to test. A suspension failure threw the car into a barrier and Revson was killed.Jarier did not race in South Africa but did well when the team raced again at the International Trophy at Silverstone, finishing third. At the Spanish GP he was joined by Brian Redman but it was not until Monaco that Jarier produced a great result, finishing third. Redman stayed only three races and was then replaced by young Swedish driver Bertil Roos who qualified 23rd but retired on the first lap of the race.The team then hired Welshman Tom Pryce, who had been driving for the Token F1 team. Pryce gave the team its only other point that year with sixth in Germany.For 1975 Southgate designed the DN5 and Pryce won the Race of Champions in the new car. He went on to score five more times, including a third place in Austria, while Jarier was fourth in Spain. Towards the end of the year Southgate built a Shadow-Matra DN7. This was raced by Jarier without success in Austria and Italy and it was then decided that the engines would be used exclusively by Ligier in 1976. The team finished sixth in the Constructors' Championship.In America Oliver raced a DN6 in Formula 5000 and finished fourth in the series without winning a race. The following year he used a development version of the car, called DN6B, to finish third with a win at Road Atlanta. After that Nichols closed the US team down.At the start of 1976 UOP caught the team by surprise when it announced it was pulling out of F1. The team did not have the money to do anything except update the DN5 to B-spec and the team struggled for money. Pryce drove the number one car and finished third in Brazil but scoring became more and more difficult as the season progressed (although he finished fourth in Britain). A new DN8, which appeared in Austria helped Pryce to a fourth place finish. Jarier failed to score and left the team at the end of the year.Oliver worked hard to find sponsorship and did small deals with Benihana, Bic and Lucky Strike before finding backing from Swiss cigar company Tabatip but the team lost Southgate to Lotus. He would later return.Pryce began the 1977 season with the DN8 partnered by Renzo Zorzi in a DN5B with backing from wealthy Italian Franco Ambrosio. Zorzi finished sixth in his second race and had a new DN8 for South Africa. Disaster struck the team again, however, as Zorzi pulled off with an electrical fire and a fire marshal running across the track to put out the blaze was hit by Pryce. He was struck in the face and killed by the fire extinguisher. The marshal was also killed.The team regrouped again and Zorzi was joined in Long Beach by Alan Jones. The Australian would win the Austrian GP for the team later that year and scored some strong end-of-season finishes to finish seventh in the World Championship. Zorzi was replaced at Monaco by another of Ambrosio's protege's Riccardo Patrese. His appearances were interrupted by other drivers trying their luck with Oliver driving one of the cars in Sweden, Arturo Merzario trying his hand in Austria and Jarier rejoining at Watkins Glen. Patrese nonetheless ended the year with sixth for the team in Japan.Late in the year the team began to break up with Oliver, Rees, Southgate, Patrese and Ambrosio disappearing off to start the new Arrows team with most of the Shadow staff. Nichols called in John Baldwin to finish off the DN9 design and then fought a court battle with Arrows over the Arrows car which was built to the Shadow design. Nichols won.The DN9s were driven in 1978 by Hans Stuck and Clay Regazzoni, while Danny Ongais twice tried to qualify a third car. The team was backed by Villiger but money was short. There were some minor placings. There was no money to build new cars for 1979 and the DN9s were reworked by Richard Owen and John Gentry and youngsters Jan Lammers and Elio de Angelis were signed to drive, each bringing sponsorship. The car was not competitive but de Angelis finished fourth in the US Grand Prix at the end of the year and then upset the team by moving to Lotus, breaking his Shadow contract.Gentry began work on a DN11 design but then left the team and so the car was finished by Owen and Vic Morris. The cars were driven in 1980 by Stefan Johansson, David Kennedy and Geoff Lees but they were not competitive. A DN12 was designed by Morris and Chuck Graeminger but after three races without qualifying Nichols decided to shut the team down. He sold the assets to Teddy Yip and the DN12s went on to become Theodore cars in 1981.