JANUARY 22, 1996
Shadow to make a comeback
Team boss Don Nichols announced in Lourdes, France, last week that he will have a Shadow team at Le Mans this year with lead driver Jean-Pierre Jarier - who was a Shadow driver in the late 1970s.
Now 72, Nichols was - quite literally - a shadowy figure in the motor racing world. A US military intelligence officer in Tokyo in the 1960s - at the height of the Vietnam War - Nichols chose a cloaked spy as his team emblem. Nichols's involvement in racing began in Japan where he sold Goodyear and Firestone tires to the local racers and played a part in the establishment of Fuji International Speedway in 1965.
Three years later, Nichols returned to the United States, established a company called Advanced Vehicle Systems, and built an exotic CanAm car for the 1970 season. Two years later George Follmer won the CanAm title for Shadow and in 1973, having set up a team base in Britain, Shadow entered F1 with Jackie Oliver and George Follmer - and backing from Universal Oil Products.
UOP pulled out at the end of 1975, but the team found new backing for 1976 and 1977, and Alan Jones won the Austrian Grand Prix that year. At the end of 1977, however, most of the team management walked out to form Arrows, and Shadow went into decline. Nichols sold his shares to Teddy Yip in 1980 and the team became Theodore.
Sixteen years later, Nichols has formed a new alliance with Frenchman Norbert Santos, who designs and builds the Norma sportscars, which appeared at Le Mans in 1990 and 1995, but without success. Nichols says that the team will use factory-built Porsche engines and that the chassis will be designed by ex-Shadow designer Tony Southgate.