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The best source for Body and Trim Restoration Parts for your 1973-1975 Grand Am:  In-Design!

 

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This phantom drawing shows the Team Associates Grand Am was outfitted for stock car racing.  Inside of maybe the most sanitary Pontiac Grand National sedan ever built is so cleverly executed it doesn’t look like all the necessary stuff is there. But it is and in stock configuration wherever possible-to keep cost down. Note 180-degree headers right side exit.  ILLUSTRATION BY KENNY YOUNGBLOOD

1973 Grand Am Pontiac Grand National sedan racer ILLUSTRATION BY KENNY YOUNGBLOOD

1973 Grand Am NASCAR: Team Associates Nascar Grand Am racer

  • Herb Adams was known as one of the extreme engineers at Pontiac, as an independent contractor, who successfully pursued racing applications, performance upgrades and modifications for various Pontiacs throughout the 1970's. Some of these engineering pursuits became original equipment on Pontiacs, such as the original WS6 Performance Handling Package option on the 1978 and 1979 Pontiac T/A's. Illustration by Kenny Youngblood.
    1st Gen Grand Am History Link Here

    Image source:

     

    High Performance Pontiac Magazine

     

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    Here

     

    According to the October 1996 Collectible Automobile article by Michael Lamm:

    Collectible Automobile Magazine October 1996 article by Michael Lamm
    From the article text - "Now, with the Grand Am, they had their sights on the big time, notably NASCAR. They qualified and ran at Riverside in January 1973, starting and finishing 14th with no brakes at the end of that race. They then tried Daytona after jumping through a an inordinate number of NASCAR inspection and qualification hoops, only to have their car blow a head gasket after qualifying at 169 mph; its 366-cid V-8 had too much compression. With that, and no major sponsors in sight, the team retired its gloss black Grand Am #69."

     

    From the image text - "A group of competition-oriented Pontiac engineers known as Team Associates wanted to turn the new Grand Am into a NASCAR racer. They nearly made it too; qualifying the car for Daytona at 169 mph before the special 366-cid engine blew a cylinder head gasket. This phantom drawing shows the Grand Am was outfitted for stock car racing." Illustration by Kenny Youngblood.

       


THE [BILL] FRANCE CONNECTION: The strange, troubled Odyssey of the most beautiful

Pontiac race car ever built / By Eric Dahlquist

Maybe the most sanitary Pontiac Grand National sedan ever, was built by Team Associates. Herb Adams is team manager and is the driving force behind this and the two previous (Pontiac race) cars. Tom Nell, a graduate of Pontiac’s long-ago NASCAR effort in the early ‘60’s, directs the Grand Am’s engine and drive train sections, and is co-owner of the car. The other two main characters in the enterprise are Ted Lambris (basic body and fuel system) and Harry Quackenboss (chassis). Driver is Jerry Thompson (from the) devastating Owens-Corning Thompson-DeLorenzo Corvettes (SCCA race) teams.
May 1973 Motor Trend article by Eric Dahlquist

Maybe the most sanitary Pontiac Grand National sedan ever, was built by Team Associates. Herb Adams is team manager and is the driving force behind this and the two previous (Pontiac race) cars. Tom Nell, a graduate of Pontiac’s long-ago NASCAR effort in the early ‘60’s, directs the Grand Am’s engine and drive train sections, and is co-owner of the car. The other two main characters in the enterprise are Ted Lambris (basic body and fuel system) and Harry Quackenboss (chassis). Driver is Jerry Thompson (from the) devastating Owens-Corning Thompson-DeLorenzo Corvettes (SCCA race) teams.

*Reprint of the text as written and most images from the May 1973 Motor Trend article by Eric Dahlquist about the Team Associates Pontiac Grand Am Grand National stock car (above/below):

 

  • Willow Springs Raceway is a 21/2-mile asphalt road course that came to national prominence during the 1950s and early ‘60s for hotly contested Sports Car Club of America races.
    The track is narrow, very tight and filled with tricky turns that wind over low hills. It is more suite to Triumph TR-3s and MGs than anything like a NASCAR Grand National stock car.
  • And yet, in early January 1973, there I was at the top of turn four, a reverse camber hook that wraps around the brow of the highest hill like a half-coiled bull whip, in what is probably the most beautiful Pontiac stock car ever built. Incredibly, despite a fairly high steering effort, the Grand Am felt as manageable at Willow as any of your 303 Trans-Am Firebirds or 5-liter Z-28 Camaros. Absent was the twitchy, always-on-the-ragged-edge feel of the typical, neutral-to-over-steering racing machine. This car was easy to handle in the way the classic Mercedes racers of the Uhelenhaut era were.
  • Which isn't surprising because the Pontiac, like the Mercedes, was conceived and built by a team of skilled automotive engineers whose primary occupation in life is to design the passenger cars you and I drive. Therefore, they never lose-even in their racing cars, the magic equation of successfully accommodating a wide driver range. The significant difference between this Pontiac and those Mercedes is, of course, that where Mercedes were the result of a flat-out factory effort, the Pontiac is a pure and simple private project of Herb Adams and Team Associates, an aggregation comprised partly of Pontiac engineers who want to be in racing even if General Motors doesn't.
  • On that January day as I ease the Grand Am through the decreasing radius of turn nine leading to the straightaway, and began to pick up speed, I could see the tiny knot of people standing by the edge of the track at the start/finish line near Willow Springs’ weathered timing stand. They rushed up to the left side window, and were gone in an eyeblink as I rocketed for turn one again, I thought about Herb Adams standing back there with the others-he was one to the two guys who owned this car and if I crashed it, there was no going back to the garage to fetch another duplicate.
  • Adams and his friends had made a memorable debut in professional racing some three years ago in the SCCA’s 1971 Trans Am season opener at Lime Rock, Conn. With a vintage, seemingly off-street 64 GTO sedan, driver Bob Tullius proceeded to pass everything on the rain-slick track except Mark Donahue in the American Motors/Penske Javelin. A year later with a genuine ponycar (Firebird) at Mid-Ohio Raceway, the Adams aggregation gave Pontiac its first big-time competition victory since General Motors withdrew from racing nine years earlier. By season end, Pontiac was No. 2 in Trans Am points and it hadn’t cost the Division a dime.
  • Even though Team Associates made money in Trans Am in 1972, they were pointing toward bigger things, ad so Herb and gang headed south in the fall 1972, down to the Charlotte World 600 to begin researching what they would be up against in the big league. NASCAR racing, you see, is more than just competition. It is a deep ingrained, institutionalized, cultural phenomenon with its folk heroes and unwritten initiations.
  • The backbone of NASCAR’s star system is built on people who have paid their dues. In other words, although Chrysler, Ford or GM are in one year and out the next, the Pettys and the Wood Bros. and Junior Johnson will be there-racing in NASCAR-this year, next year, every year. There has never been any illusion about that fact by either the racers of NASCAR’s founding father, Bill France. You play the game Mr. France’s way or you don’t play at all. And you can’t really argue because he built it into a multi-million-dollar show.

     

    Inside of maybe the most sanitary Pontiac Grand National sedan ever built is so cleverly executed it doesn't’t look like all the necessary stuff is there. But it is and in stock configuration wherever possible-to keep cost down. Note 180-degree headers right side exit.

    ILLUSTRATION BY KENNY YOUNGBLOOD Inside of maybe the most sanitary Pontiac Grand National sedan ever built is so cleverly executed it doesn’t look like all the necessary stuff is there. But it is and in stock configuration wherever possible-to keep cost down. Note 180-degree headers right side exit.  ILLUSTRATION BY KENNY YOUNGBLOOD

     

  • Adams found, as countless Detroit engineers on the various factory racing expeditions had since the ‘50s, that there is a certain quotient of black magic ingrained into NASCAR just as there is in all American racing - USAC, NHRA, SCCA, take your pick.
  • More important, the stringent demands of the NASCAR technical committee can be as formidable a foe as the other race cars. Just how formidable, even in their wildest dreams, they could not imagine.
  • Five months after Adams Associates’ first southern exposure, some of the crew gathered in Herb’s room at the Caravan Inn in Riverside, Calif. It was the end of their second frustrating, unsuccessful day of trying to worm through NASCAR’s technical inspection, which serves also as the traditional hazing for freshman racers. It was raining torrents outside and the electricity would finally go out and we would talk in the dark, drinking Coors and finishing the rest of the Dorito chips.
  • “When we started this thing,” Herb began, “we didn't want to copy what Petty or Allison had just because they were winners. There isn't a lot of true engineering innovation in NASCAR because most people all run the same pieces. You get a Holman-Moody roll cage and front end set up, get a body, put an engine in and go racing.
  • “Well, we believed a lot of what we learned in SCCA would apply to NASCAR. It’s almost commonplace here to run four different spring rates on the same car and even different rubber compounds on the same car and we felt that was wrong. In general, we were going to try to engineer a straightforward reliable car, using as many production pieces as possible to keep costs down. That’s the kind of information that needs to be passed around.”
  • Being at least in part products of the General Motors system, Adams Associates is set up like a miniature automobile division, with responsibility for the automobile’s different systems (engine, fuel, brake, etc.), assigned along lines of expertise.
  • Adams is team manager and is the driving force behind this and the two previous cars. Tom Nell, a graduate of Pontiac’s long-ago NASCAR effort in the early ‘60’s, directs the Grand Am’s engine and drive train sections, and is co-owner of the car. Incredible as it may seem, in these days of Chrysler hemis and stagger-valve Chevrolets, Nell has extracted enough horsepower (almost 600) from a 366 cubic- inch version of what is essentially Pontiac’s old 1963 Super Duty engine, to be competitive, Nell was part and parcel of the development team responsible for Pontiac’s hot new 455 SD powerplant, but it’s probably been a trade-off whether the Division has gained more from Nell’s private racing activities or he from the SD program. What it boils down to in the end is that Nell and a couple of other guys are single-handedly keeping Pontiac’s performance image alive.
  • The other two main characters in the enterprise are Ted Lambris (basic body and fuel system) and Harry Quackenboss (chassis).

     

    Herb Adams, left, is the Team Associates manager and the operations guiding light. Driver, Jerry Thompson, center, was recruited from SCCA ranks. He is not Mickey Thompson's younger brother. Tom Nell, below right, sustains life in 366/455 SD engine still competitive in '70s.

    Herb Adams, left, is the Team Associates manager and the operations guiding light. Driver, Jerry Thompson, center, was recruited from SCCA ranks. He is not Mickey Thompson's younger brother. Tom Nell, above right, sustains life in 366/455 SD engine still competitive in '70s.

     

  • When the Team Associates Grand Am hit Riverside for the Winston Western 500, it was obvious by the machine’s meticulous preparation that the car was not one of your corner gas station efforts. The sight of the deep, lustrous black paint and chromed Clements wheels ($40 apiece just for the chroming and shot peening to negate hydrogen embrittlement caused during chroming), was not lost on NASCAR’s superteams.
  • Neither were neat touches like ducting brake cooling air through the frame or making sense out of the usual spaghetti NASCAR roll-cage rules. The Grand AM was so clean inside and out that it almost appeared not to have all the necessary hardware and yet everything was there-properly engineered.
  • Since the car carried no major sponsor’s sign to many, the Grand Am could only mean Pontiac’s long-awaited return to competition was a fact. Herb knew how far this myth had gone when several NASCAR inspectors began asking to get in on the Pontiac parts deal.
    Had they known, for instance, that the pretty paint was an experiment by Ditzler Division of Pittsburgh Plate Glass to learn the hard-use characteristics of flexible, urethane-based paint on normal sheet metal, or that the team was dining nightly on Big Macs, the southerners might not have been as suspicious.
  • Team Associates driver Jerry Thompson was another puzzle. Who was he? Since most people in this league had never heard of the devastating Owens-Corning Thompson-DeLorenzo Corvettes, the notion that Jerry Thompson was Mickey Thompson’s younger brother persisted right up to race day. Mickey Thompson services part of Pontiac’s car pool on the West Coast, a factory contract, so the connection was obvious.
  • One thing led to another and Team Associates found themselves mired in problems while their competitors were sorting their cars in practice. First, NASCAR took exception to the funny-looking NASA hood ducts (which are part of the 455 SD factory option), that other competitors thought gave an unfair advantage other the cowl intakes “everybody” else was using. Then there was a problem with the way some of the roll-cage was fared into the bodywork at the back of the sidewindows. Then there was the rear spoiler. Then it was the driver himself: one NASCAR official suggested it would be smart to replace him with one of it’s reliable (NASCAR) regulars.

     

    One thing led to another and Team Associates found themselves mired in problems while their competitors were sorting their cars in practice. First, NASCAR took exception to the funny-looking NASA hood ducts (which are part of the 455 SD factory option), that other competitors thought gave an unfair advantage other the cowl intakes “everybody” else was using. Then there was a problem with the way some of the roll-cage was fared into the bodywork at the back of the sidewindows. Then there was the rear spoiler. Then it was the driver himself: one NASCAR official suggested it would be smart to replace him with one of it’s reliable (NASCAR) regulars.

    One thing led to another and Team Associates found themselves mired in problems while their competitors were sorting their cars in practice. First, NASCAR took exception to the funny-looking NASA hood ducts (which are part of the 455 SD factory option), that other competitors thought gave an unfair advantage other the cowl intakes “everybody” else was using. Then there was a problem with the way some of the roll-cage was fared into the bodywork at the back of the sidewindows. Then there was the rear spoiler. Then it was the driver himself: one NASCAR official suggested it would be smart to replace him with one of it’s reliable (NASCAR) regulars.

     

  • On the second day of qualification, after about 30 total practice laps, Jerry Thompson put the Team Associates Grand Am on the grid 14th. He was the quickest qualifier that day but it didn't mean much as the car never had enough time on the course to be proper sorted out.
  • By race day, Herb felt they were in pretty good shape, even starting mid-way back in the pack. At about the race’s halfway point, when Thompson was running seventh, ahead of most of the NASCAR boys he was supposed to be inferior to, it looked like things were finally working on their favor.
  • But with about 200 miles to go, the Grand Am’s four-wheel Corvette disc brakes began to lose pressure. Thompson zoomed into the pits and the crew found fluid leaking out of the rear brake calipers. Those beautiful wheels were flexing more than the team had anticipated and the occasional contact had ground off the caliper bleeder screw.
  • As the brakes were being repaired, a NASCAR official said there was a one-minute limit on the track side of the pit wall and the car had to be brought behind the wall of be disqualified. So, the crew was forced to put the Grand Am’s wheels back on and roll it behind the wall before the brake fix could be completed. Later in the race, Richard Petty’s STP Plymouth was timed by NASCAR with an official five-minute pit stop-the track side of the wall.
  • So, the Grand Am’s brakes were repaired and Thompson went charging off into the fray, trying to make up some of the lost time. In due course the rod actuating the master brake cylinder failed and he finished 14th with no brakes.
  • To complete the demanding Riverside race at all your first time out is an accomplishment itself. A year ago, Mark Donahue failed to make four laps in the AMC/Penske Matador before retiring. Heartened by the fact Tom Nell’s engine was still going strong at the end of 500 mile and that they had complied with all NASCAR’s demands without any serious problems, the gang headed back to Detroit to prepare for Daytona.
  • In the interim between Riverside and Daytona, NASCAR sent around a letter to each of the entrants advising that in order to pass inspection all front spindles would have to be re-magnafluxed. Adams Team Associates did the job and left for Florida with the magnaflux slip in their pocket, thinking every-thing was fine.
  • When they arrived, everything wasn't’t fine. They showed the spindle magnaflux slip to an inspector.
    • “You just did the front spindle,” the inspector said.
    • “That’s all the letter said,” Herb responded.
    • “Well,” said the inspector, “we’re not going to argue over that, but you’re going to do your front hubs, rear axle shafts, rear hubs, wheel bearings, ball joints, everything.”
  • A day later, as all that work was completed, another inspector came around. “We noticed during magnaflux (inspection), you didn't’t use the same kind of ball-joints everybody else is using, so you’re going to have to put them in,” the official said.
  • Again the team complied, finally rebuilding most of the front suspension. One day melded into another and finally, five days later, they were allowed on the track. But it was the last day to qualify for the 125-mile qualifying races that determined starting positions for the 500.
  • The team opened with a speed of 160 mph and by the end of the day they had worked the Grand Am up to 169 mph-a long way from the 185.662 mph of pole-sitter Buddy Baker.
  • But that was it, time had run out, the 125 miler was at hand. During the race, the 366 engine, which had performed faultlessly on Riversides’s road course, began to detonate under Daytona’s sustained open-throttle running and eventually blew a head gasket. Thus sidelined, the Team Associates Grand Am did not qualify for the 500. There went $5000 down the tube. Period. End of experiment.
  • Now, Herb Adams and Team Associates are back in Detroit. They think if they had been able to run more at Riverside, they would have discovered the wheel/brake caliper interference problem and the brakes probably wouldn't have failed. In which case, the car might have placed third or fourth, since Thompson could run with Ray Elder, who did finish third.
  • The one day on the Daytona course told them they had too much compression and not enough power, and that their front suspension geometry (which provided for no camber change or to change on either the banking or straightaway), had to be slightly redesigned. In five more days, they might even have made the big race, but then again, maybe not. In any event, Tom Nell is rebuilding a lower compression version of the 366 and a pair of 430s for comparison tests.
  • Also, they will not return to the Southern Grand National circuit until summer, if then. Simply, with no major sponsor yet committed, Team Associates is almost out of money and can’t see going to any more races, knowing they probably will not have sufficient time to get properly set up. Instead, it seems much more prudent to take the Grand Am to nearby Michigan International Speedway and complete a thorough test program at their own pace and within their pocketbook. This done, they no doubt will take a crack at USAC’s two big stock car races at MIS and Pocono. Beyond that, there are no definite plans.
  • Through it all, Team Associates have tried to keep a positive outlook and a spirit of cooperation with NASCAR. Still, they can’t exactly fathom why, with the only potentially good Pontiac on the circuit, NASCAR hasn't’t seen fit to let them run more.
  • For its part, NASCAR has taken the position that the Team Associates’ car, like any new car, has had so many things to be corrected that naturally track time will be reduced. When the team gets its act together, as far as technical requirements go, then the car will be able to get the track time they need. In the last analysis, what shall or shall not run is NASCAR’s decision.
  • And yet, we haven’t been talking about a group of backyard racers. These guys design our passenger cars for us. They know how to make an automobile comply with technical requirements. The whole smog and safety flog hasn't been exactly shooting fish in a barrel. Perhaps Roger Penske summed it up best one raw day at Daytona when he commented to Adams: “You’re going through what we went through last year.”
  • The tragedy of the whole affair is that a beautiful piece of machinery that could give Pontiac fans something to cheer about, help NASCAR fill its stands and keep Team Associates going, is sitting in a garage in Waterford, Mich. But then, a lot of people thought the “sucker” ground-effect Chaparral should not have been sidelined either. (Text as written from the May 1973 Motor Trend article by Eric Dahlquist.)

     

    With about 200 miles to go, the Grand Am’s four-wheel Corvette disc brakes began to lose pressure. Thompson zoomed into the pits and the crew found fluid leaking out of the rear brake calipers. Those beautiful wheels were flexing more than the team had anticipated and the occasional contact had ground off the caliper bleeder screw.

    The crew was forced to put the Grand Am’s wheels back on and roll it behind the wall before the brake fix could be completed. So, the Grand Am’s brakes were repaired

    The crew was forced to put the Grand Am’s wheels back on and roll it behind the wall before the brake fix could be completed. So, the Grand Am’s brakes were repaired and Thompson went charging off into the fray, trying to make up some of the lost time.

    Thompson went charging off into the fray, trying to make up some of the lost time.

     

    *Reprint of the text as written - with the exception of most illustration comments - in the May 1973 Motor Trend article by Eric Dahlquist (above).


     

    Credit and a big thanks to Pontiac Grand Am Enthusiast -Murray aka: Murray Simon for finding this long lost May 1973 Motor Trend article of this beautiful Pontiac Grand National Grand Am sedan. I remembered reading this very article in Motor Trend when I was 12 years old and had been seeking to own another copy for information from the article. I believe Murray found this in his vast Pontiac Grand Am archives.

     

    And credit and special appreciation to The Spirit of Team Associates: Herb Adams, Ted Lambris, Harry Quackenboss and Tom Nell, with driver Jerry Thompson; who at the time of my 1st reading this article in 1973 re-ignited my earlier desire and appreciation for all Pontiac Hi-Po vehicles and the-then-new 1973 Pontiac Grand Am (One of which we own today) and the general Pontiac performance image. To me this was yet another testament of the overall contributions to the REAL Pontiac Performance and Handling superiority in the 1970's created by Herb Adams and his fellow engineering team. Their accomplishments are, literally, in our garages and driveways equipping those vintage Pontiac's we all drive and enjoy today.

    Job Well Done Team Associates! Fjj

     

  • Link for the 1973-1975 Grand Am 1973-1975: Pontiac Grand Am Series Number One

    • The 1973-1975 Pontiac Grand Am main pages link.

      1st Gen of the Pontiac Grand Am. Link here for: 1973, 1974, and 1975! 1973-75 Grand Am here - Herb Adams Team Associates 1964 Gray Ghost racing Pontiac 1964 GTO Gray Ghost here

       

    More Herb Adams Prototype Pontiacs

    • The 1977-1980 Pontiac Trans Am road racers

    Herb Adams T/A Test Mule Herb Adams Trans Am Test Mule Herb Adams Silverbird at Mosport And the Silverbird Herb Adams Silverbird

     

    This phantom drawing shows the Team Associates Grand Am was outfitted for stock car racing.

    1973 Grand Am Pontiac Grand National sedan racer ILLUSTRATION BY KENNY YOUNGBLOOD

     

     

    GTO Main 1st Gen 2nd Gen 3rd Gen 4th Gen

    Some image and text content courtesy Collectible Automobile and Motor Trend Magazines

    Grand Am link!

     

    • Click here for Horst Fiedlerhs' 1st Gen Grand Am Website. f for Horst Fiedlerhs' 1st Gen Grand Am Website.

     

    • Click here for the Great 1973-1977 A-Body site!

     

    • The best source for Body and Trim Restoration Parts for your 1973-1975 Grand Am:  MOTOREALM!

      The best source for Body and Trim Restoration Parts for your 1973-1975 Grand Am: MOTOREALM!

     

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