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Author Topic: Todco and McConnell Racing, Canadian Trans-Am racers  (Read 10807 times)
Jon Mello
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« on: February 01, 2012, 12:19:34 PM »

Since we have recently had Ken Ulrich from the Todco Racing team (and later, Roy Woods' ARA team) recently join our forum, I thought it would be good to start a new thread topic which discussed the cars which ran under the Todco and McConnell Racing banners.

Todco was the racing team started by John Todds and Craig Fisher was the driver for the team when they started the '69 Trans-Am season at the Wolverine Trans-Am. The car they started the season with was white with a black hood and trunk, then in mid-season Fisher appears in a silver Camaro Z/28 with black stripes. At the end of the season, Fisher is driving a dark blue Camaro with red wheels and a red roll cage.

Ken, can you tell us a little bit about what you did while working for Todco and can you fill us in on the car or cars that you used during the 1969 season?


Photo by Ron Lathrop


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Jon Mello
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2012, 02:05:23 PM »

I started out by hanging around Todco in the Spring of 1968 because a buddy of mine was working there. John Todds got some sponsorship money to build a 67 or 68  Camaro to compete in local club races at Tremblant. When he found out I could weld I ended up spending evenings and weekends growing 1 1/2" tubing together and learning alot about HP cars and why John was so well known locally. The car did well that season and Don Duncan bought it at the end of the year When John McConnell stepped in with big enough money to run a professional team  in 1969. And that's when it all started to come together. Although both of these photos are # 7 they are 2 different cars. The fender flairs are different and the blue car has a roll bar which leans forward at top. White car first raced at Sebring, blue car some time mid season.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 01:26:16 PM »

Ken, thanks for that information. It's interesting that you replaced the white '69 Camaro in mid-season.
Was this due to an accident, the addition of Derek Johnson to the team, or some other reason?

Can you tell me about the car seen in the photo below? This photo is from a Todco article in the 1971
Mt Tremblant program, which is all in French. The english translation for the caption is roughly as follows:
John Todds puts a finishing touch to one of the cars of his racing stable before it heads out on the track.
Cleanliness was always synonymous with success for this very professional race team.
 


Courtesy of Frank Dihartce
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 04:20:21 PM by Jon Mello » Logged

Jon Mello
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 07:36:41 PM »

It was because of the addition of Derik to the team. This chassis is first 69 that we built and started out white. Fenders on this car were cut and welded for clearance. 2nd chassis (#7) fenders were stretched for clearance instead of cutting them.
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kgu
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 08:13:54 PM »

Sorry, this photo is of 1st chassis with # 7 on it because Craig was driving and liked this number. When 2nd chassis was built #7 went onto it and 1st. chassis became Derik's car. In this set of photos, photo #1 and photo #3 are the same car with Craig driving in photo #1 (early in season) and Derik as driver in photo #3. Photo #2 (red wheels) is chassis #2 and is the car I prefered, driven by Craig and shows Dwight, our engine builder checking the plugs, and John Todds (white shirt on left in background). 
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 10:57:40 PM »

Hi Ken. Thanks for the information on those cars. I got an message from Yves St Jean from the www.autocourse.ca website and
he wanted to know if you could shed some further light on the Todco cars listed below --- who they were sold to and what may have
become of them. I'm not sure if you have that knowledge but those of us who like the history aspect of these cars would find that
interesting. Thanks for any insight.


1) 1967 Camaro= Built by Todco from a used car. Owned by Duchesne's Auto, raced by Derek Johnson in '68. Sold to Don Duncan. He raced it in '71 GP3r = WHERE DID IT GO?
2) 1969 Camaro= #7 from Snyder Chev built by Todco Racing and raced at Sebring and Michigan in early '69, color scheme was white and black.
                         #93 from Snyder Chev. Raced by Derek Johnson in mid '69 as a blue car, 6th place at Watkins Glen '69. Raced by Jacques Duval in '70 Mt Tremblant T/A race
                         and by Craig Fisher at '70 Watkins Glen T/A, then sold to Jean Guy Roy for the complete 72 T/A season = (OK on this one)
3) 1969 Camaro= #7 from Snyder Chev built by Todco silver with black stripes for 69 St Jovite T/A where Craig Fisher finished 4th at '69 Watkins Glen, later blue #7 at Kent '69 = WHERE DID IT GO?
4) 1970 Firebird = #93 race in T/A at '70 St Jovite and Watkins Glen race = WHERE DID IT GO?
5) 1969 Firebird = #7 Titus-built car run under McConnell Racing with Craig Fisher in early '69 = WHERE DID IT GO?
6) 1971 Camaro = #93 and #86 run by Dick Brown, owned by Duncan = Historic Trans-Am, now owned by Kerry Hoctor = (OK on this one)
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2012, 03:58:24 PM »

Hello all, i was just sent a link to this forum by my friend and fellow Historic Trans-Am racer Chad Reynal.  I own the 1970 Todco Racing and Don Duncan camaro.  I am always looking for more info on my car.  Ken, I am curious as to what you remember about the car.  I have talked to Dick Brown and Don Duncan but there recollections are not very detailed. What I was told was that the car was bought used, perhaps a demonstrator from Nurse Chevrolet in Canada.  It was a silver 1970 Z-28 RS.  What I would love to know is where and who thought of the 1971 color scheme.  I only have few pictures from the 71 season and they are not very good.  Also, Ken were you involved at all with Donnie Duncans campaign for the car in the 72 season?  Thanks for any and all help.  I will do my best to get Dick Brown and Don Duncan to subscribe to the CRG forum.  Jon, Dick Brown would be an excellant interview I believe as well as Don Duncan.  There are some great stories regarding parts aquisitions from Penske racing suppliers.  Both of these guys are around and more than willing to share some stories and history about Trans-A racing and the cars they were involved with.  I look forward to enjoying this site.

Regards
Kerry Hoctor



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kdh54
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 06:43:26 PM »

Please note:  Chads last name is spelled icorrectly in my post.  It is Chad Raynal....sorry Chad.

Kerry Hoctor
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2012, 02:32:43 AM »

To the best of my memory, this was so long ago, 67 Camaro belonging to Don Duncan flipped end over end and Don probably has some info if was restorable.I know he has photos.  69 Camero first silver then dark blue with red wheels and sloped rollbar went airborn and landed hard and twistd rollcage. Removed from shop so I could begin 70 Firsbird chassis fabrication. 70 Firebird was a beautiful car but no power because of engine rules. Soon it magically became a 70 Z28 and even better looking than before. All seams wer cut of extra metal and rewelded by tig. When I came back to Mtl. from my year at RWR car belonged to Don Duncan but I was too buisy to be involved even though Don and I remained good friends for several years. Red wheeled 69 Camaro had a distintive rool bar hoop because of its angle. I hope it still around - i was my favorite.
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2012, 02:38:13 AM »

The 70 Firebird was brand spanking new with almost 0 miles. I was told it was from 1St shippment to Canada. It was new.
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kdh54
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2012, 02:47:22 PM »

WOW!  So Ken,  what I am understanding is after all these years is that I am the proud owner of a FIREBIRD not a Camaro.  That certainly answers the question as to what happened to the Firebird.  Do you think Don Duncan was aware that his car started life as a Firebird?  Were the vehicle ID #'s removed to hide it's real identity at tech inspection.  I am thinking that the #93 was Derek Johnsons favorite number since it showed up on his cars.  Are Jonn Todds or Derek Johnson still with us?  Ken, do you reside in Canada? 
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kgu
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2012, 04:37:53 PM »

The 1970 Firebird was white when delivered so look for traces of original paint top inside of trunk. When converted there was some question of a slight difference in a body line detail between a Firebird and Camaro but I really don't know if SCCA knew or cared. Don Duncan worked out of Todco so he was there everyday and was a good friend of mine. Derek probably still lives in or around Montreal and knows alot more about John McConnell than than I do. We were issued # 92 or #92 at Sebring 1969 and yes Derek seemed to like #9, #92, and #93. John Todds lived in Montreal quite close to me actually and I spoke to him one or two times per year but he seems to have dissapeared last year. I hope he is ok, I know he has had serious back problems since Todco days. John could answer any and all of your questions, he remembers every detail of every car and every race  starting with 1969 in great detail.
I would really enjoy seeing detail photos of your car Kerry if possible and please tell me if you find any traces of original paint.
                                             Ken Ulrich
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2012, 06:08:09 PM »

Kerry,

I'm glad that you found your way here to the forum and we look forward to learning more about your car. It is a great asset to have Ken Ulrich join us here as well. You are right that Dick Brown would make a great interview and I have emailed him on numerous occasions. I have thought of doing an interview and just need to set aside some time to get that done. Easier said than done.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2012, 11:09:09 PM »

Hi Ken, glad you have joined us.  Always good to hear from someone who was involved.

I have the official results from the 69 Sebring 12 hr.  The Todco entry was listed as a white #93 camaro (does not give the year) and was driven by Serge Adam (they have Adams) and Craig Fisher - credited with 174 laps and 30th o/a (4th in the Touring class).  Rick Stevens and I finished 25th o/a and 3rd in the Touring class - did 180 laps and were 2 laps behind the Bruce Behrens  #17 camaro with Vince Gimondo and John Tremblay driving - they were 22nd o/a.  Class winners were the (Freeport) Bahama Racing team #94 camaro of Norberto Mastrandea and Robert Ormes.  The camaros were all in the 2-5 L Touring class with the exception of the Yenko and Grossman camaro who were GT class winners and 10th o/a.  Somewhere I have the entry list which would list the years of the cars.

I have the Sebring program as well as the poster, official results, lap chart book for all competitors, newspaper clippings etc.

Would sure love to go back there one more time to have a look.

Robert Barg
 
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2012, 01:22:04 AM »

Ken,

Can you tell us some of the fabrication stuff that you did to the bodies of the Todco race cars, including the subframes and suspension? For the '68 season, apparently the body seams could not be fully welded as evidenced by the stitch welding shown in the photo below of the first '68 Penske Camaro, taken while it was being constructed.


Photo by Ron Fournier

Were you allowed more leeway and/or were you doing any "rule bending" by the time you were building cars in '69 and later?
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Jon Mello
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