1970 Mac’s IT Rotax Special — Four Engines, Four Wheel Drive

The Can-Am Racing series was an open comp, run what you brung. There were cars that were very successful such as McLarens and Porsches. Then there were cars that were creative. The AVS Shadow with its tiny tires ran, but always seemed to have problems. The Chaparral 2J, was built with a snowmobile engine connected to a fan to suck the air out from under the car in order to create a vacuum. It ran so well it was banned.

These were cars that the designers and builders thought of outside the box. In that time came Jack Hoare, an ex-Shelby American engine builder and crew worker. Jack raced in the Can-Am series in an older McLaren that was Ford-powered. He thought, “How about lighter with better traction?

How about 4 smaller engines, located at each tire, for better weight distribution and better traction?”

The car is sponsored by Mac’s Super Gross Company manufacturing chemicals, products for automobiles, hand cleaners and other items. That is where the name came from. In the name MAC’S IT, the IT comes from Innovation Racing with Jack Hoare.

The car was built around four two-cylinder, two-cycle 775cc Rotax snowmobile engines producing 110 hp each for a total of 440 hp in a car that weighed approximately 1200 pounds. The four engines have two in the front and two in the rear. With a complicated drivetrain system, centrifugal clutches come off the engine’s driving belts through a variable ratio pulley system. These connect to a modified VW transaxle that provide power to the wheels. The same system on both front and rear engines are connected together by a balance shaft. There were problems with push me, pull you action and trying to get everything synchronized. The car did have some power loss due to the drive system.
Now comes testing, at the Orange County Speedway which is a dragstrip. The team set up cones on the strip to resemble a road course. Just about every time test driver Hiroshi Fushida would accelerate hard the balance shaft would twist and break with a loud bang. They eliminated the balance shaft, so the two front engines and the two rear engines ran separately from each other. This made the car more reliable but still had the synchronization problem.

Off to the races: the Can-Am race at Laguna Seca. With a few practice laps the car stayed together, but it was smokey and noisy, sounding like a herd of chainsaws. Now came time for qualifying. The driver Hiroshi Matsushita recorded a lap at 1 minute 29.4 seconds. That was 18.6 seconds behind the slowest qualifier. The pole-sitter was Vic Elford with a time of 58.8 seconds driving the Chaparral 2J. At that rate, Hiroshi would be lapped by the leader about every three laps. The Mac IT Special did not qualify for the race and, unfortunately, the Mac IT was never to be seen again.

Even though it did not qualify, it just goes to show the ingenuity of people like Jack Hoare that think outside the box. Others that try something different don’t do as well as everyone else and some do far better than expected. Oh, by the way, one car that did far better was the Chaparral 2J , the sucker car that was later banned from racing.

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