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Formula 5000

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Here's a cool documentary, about 30 minutes, that aired on ABC in 1971. It's about Sam Posey, David Hobbs, and Formula 5000. There's some awesome on-board footage of the F5000s at Mid-Ohio.

A great exchange between the two drivers, too. Posey's sarcastically disappointed that Hobbs isn't on the front row with him, to which Hobbs reassures that "we'll be together again, sweetheart." Posey then suggests that "I tried to follow your line, but my car doesn't go through grasses that thick."

You also get a glimpse of some Formula Vees and sports cars. Part 1 of 4 is here. You'll see the other parts in the related videos.

25 years later, they'd be calling the races together on SpeedVision, and did their final broadcast today. Really enjoyed this.

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From "Colin Chapman: Inside the Innovator"

"Not mentioned by Colin Chapman was a development he kept under wraps, hoping for a paradigm-changing breakthrough. This was a fully automatic five-speed transaxle conceived exclusively for Lotus by inventor Howard Hobbs. Resident in the UK since 1931, Hobbs was a "fruit farmer from Australia", said his son David, who "from a very early age started making mechanical things."

"After the war Hobbs surfaced as the inventor of the Mecha-Matic automatic transmission, so named to highlight its all mechanical operation, omitting an energy robbing torque converter or hydraulic coupling.

"During the 1950's Hobbs gained funding for further development of his patented automatic at his Leamington Spa base. Westinghouse became a partner, supporting the transmission's offering by Borgward in 1961 - just before that company went belly-up. The Mecha-Matic attracted the attention of British Ford, which in 1963 approved its installation by dealers. Scuppering this however, was Fords offering of an option Borg-Warner automatic.

"Flying the flag for the Mecha-Matic was young David Hobbs, who started racing in 1959 at the age of 20. His first car was an MGA-powered Morris Oxford with - of course - a Hobbs transmission. In 1960 he graduated to a Jaguar XK140, showing that the gearbox could cope with bigger engines. The 1961 season found him in a Lotus Elite, the property of the Hobbs development company. Over two seasons he scored 15 wins in 18 starts with the Mecha-Matic Elite.

"I had the power sustained shift," Hobbs told John Heimann, "and as I went up through the gears I could keep my foot flat on the gas. Braking it was very good too, because you just jumped on the brakes and then, at the appropriate moment, slipped it into the next gear and it picked up sweet as a nut"

"Here, thought Colin Chapman, was a transmission with Formula 1 potential....."

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