SHMF 2014 Seminar

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Contact: Judy Stropus, 203-438-0501; cell 203-243-2438

Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival's Racing Seminar to discuss early Can-Am years and the radical Shadow Race Cars 

SONOMA, Calif. (May 12, 2021) - For the third straight year, the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival (May 17-18) will host one of its popular racing seminars at Sonoma Raceway. This year's seminar will celebrate the early years of the iconic SCCA Can-Am Series, which ran from 1966 to 1974, with a focus on the unique Shadow race cars that competed in the Series from 1970 to 1974.

The FREE seminar will take place at the Drivers' Lounge at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, May 17, at 10:30 a.m. and is open to event ticket holders and participants. Tickets to the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival are $30 each day (Saturday and Sunday). Children 12-and-under will be admitted FREE and students ages 13-20 are $10 each day. For more information, go to

An autograph session including all the panel members will immediately follow the seminar.

The panel will include Don Nichols, founder of Nichols Advanced Vehicle Systems (AVS) in 1968, and principal behind Shadow Racing Inc.; George Follmer, winner of the 1972 Can-Am Championship and partner to 1974 champion Jackie Oliver on the Shadow team; Trevor Harris, the innovative creator of the very first AVS Shadow Mark 1, the ultra-radical "Tiny Tire" car that Follmer debuted in 1970; and photographer/journalist Pete Lyons, prolific author of books covering the Can-Am Series.

Also on hand will be the current Shadow owners who'll be competing in the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival: Fred Cziska, of Petaluma, Calif., and Dennis Losher, of Twain Harte, Calif. Their Shadows will be displayed outside the Drivers' Lounge.

"The first two seminars we held at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival were hugely successful and popular," said Steve Earle, president of General Racing, Ltd., who has organized premier historic car events for four decades. "It's been standing room only and we expect this year's panel discussion will draw even more enthusiasts. Hearing the legendary panel members speak on the topic of 'Can-Am through the eyes of Shadow' should be not only educational, but entertaining as well."

Here are short bios of the panelists:

Don Nichols - Monterey, Calif.

Nichols is known as the founder of Shadow Cars, the winning constructor of the 1970s in the SCCA Can-Am Series and Formula 1. Born in Missouri as the only child of an aeronautical engineer, he lost both his parents in his youth. Raised on his grandfather's farm, he learned about horses, taught himself about cars and starred as a high-school athlete. A Pathfinder paratrooper who sustained battlefield wounds both in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, he continued his Army service as a Counter-Intelligence officer in Korea and then Japan. Fluent in Japanese, he stayed on in Tokyo to become a business entrepreneur in Japan ’s automobile and auto racing industries. He played a key role in the design, construction and event promotion of Fuji Speedway in the 1960s. He returned to California in 1968 where he met racing engineer Trevor Harris. Fascinated by Harris ’ idea for an ultra-low-profile Can-Am car, Don started Nichols Advanced Vehicles Systems (AVS) to build it. The Shadow Can-Am cars raced in 1970 and into 1980, winning the 1974 championship with Jackie Oliver.

George Follmer - Post Falls, Idaho

Raised in California, Follmer is the only professional racing driver from the U.S. to compete in Indy Cars, NASCAR, Formula 1, the World Endurance Championship, Can-Am, Trans-Am and IMSA. He was named the 1960 California Sports Car Club's Rookie of the Year, followed by Driver of the Year in 1965, the year he won the SCCA USRRC title. His first Formula 1 start in 1973 resulted in a sixth-place finish for the Shadow team at the South African GP. He was the 1972 Can-Am and Trans-Am champion and partnered Jackie Oliver on the Shadow team in 1974. He set nine Can-Am track records between 1966-71. In all, his career record shows  four professional road racing championships, with 37 professional wins on 22 circuits in four countries.

Trevor Harris - Sunland, Calif. 

With a degree in Physics from the University of Washington (Seattle), Harris' career as a chassis designer began in 1953. He built his first hot rod dubbed "the Trevarri" during the 1953-56 period. From the '60s through the '80s he was instrumental in the design of the Chevy V8 Bardahl Special; Toyota's Group 6 prototype; the "tiny tired" AVS Shadow, the most radical Can-Am car in history; Nissan's race cars; Yamaha's factory short-track motorcycle chassis; and the Frisbee Can-Am car, among others. He was the chief designer of the Shadow Formula 1 team and Dan Gurney's AAR Indy Car team. He also designed the Galles GR3 Can-Am car which won the '82, '83 and '85 Can-Am titles. His design work for numerous race teams and manufacturers continued through the 2000s. In all, he holds 11 U.S. and foreign patents on variable speed transmissions and bicycles.

Pete Lyons - Big Bear, Calif.

As a veteran motorsports journalist/photographer, Lyons has spent decades covering races all over the world, including the Can-Am Series, Formula 1, sports car enduros, Mexico’s Baja 1000, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Kenya’s Safari Rally and numerous F5000, motorcycle, NASCAR, NHRA, Trans-Am and vintage events. He was editor of RACECAR magazine and has contributed to a number of magazines, including Autosport, AutoWeek, Car and Driver, Cycle, Private Pilot, Racer, and Road & Track. Author of nine books, with three more underway, Lyons has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award (twice) and the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy Award. In 2011 he gained the International Automotive Media Award for Lifetime Achievement. Along with his most recent books, “Can-Am Cars in Detail” and “Fast Lines,” plus his annual calendar and a DVD, the extensive archive of racing photography by Pete and his late father, Ozzie Lyons, can be seen at

The 350 vintage and historic race cars in 14 race groups scheduled to take to the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course in the heart of Northern California's wine country at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival range from a 1911 National 40 and a 1917 Chevrolet 490 Speedster to more "modern-day" racers such as a 1964 Bobsy-Porsche SR-3, a 1965 Cobra and Corvette, a 1970 Porsche 917 and 908, a 1988 Protofab Corvette, and a 1991 Roush Mustang.

The celebration of fine cars continues into the evening on Saturday, May 17, at the Sonoma Plaza and the 22nd annual Historic Race Car Festival. A group of 30 select race cars competing at the Sonoma Historics will parade to the Plaza and be placed on display during the Festival. Locals and race fans alike will enjoy tastings from several local restaurants and wineries. All proceeds from the charity event will benefit the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and Speedway Children’s Charities, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway. The Historic Race Car Festival runs from 5:30-8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the event.

About General Racing, Ltd.:

General Racing Ltd. (founded by Steven Earle) was formed in 1970 to encourage the restoration, preservation and the use of historic sports and racing cars and envisioned an event that would unite former racing greats with enthusiastic amateurs who owned some of the rare motorcars that once graced road courses worldwide. Earle’s vision forever changed the vintage racing landscape.

In 1974, with the support of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance organizers, he launched the inaugural one-day Monterey (Calif.) Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca Raceway. It was a huge success and attracted a field of 66 cars. 

It also sparked the interest and vision for what would become the world’s premier historic auto race. In 1975 it became a two-day affair and the climb to recognition around the world began.

The success of the Monterey Historics spawned additional General Racing events, including the Portland (Ore.) Historic Automobile Races, the Coronado (Calif.) Speed Festival, special events at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Kansas City Historic Grand Prix, as well as the Wine Country Classic, the forerunner to the current Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival. 

In addition, General Racing assisted the organizational team from 2001-2008 at the Lime Rock Park (Conn.) Vintage Festival, held over Labor Day weekend.