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Shadow Racing Cars was a Formula One and sports car racing team, founded and initially based in the United States although later Formula One operations were run from Britain.
1971-1972: Early years in CanAm series
The company was founded by Don Nichols in 1971 as Advance Vehicle Systems; the cars were called Shadows, designed by Trevor Harris and entered under the Shadow Racing Inc. banner. The first Shadow, the Mk.I, was entered in the CanAm series with George Follmer and Vic Elford driving them. The Mk.1 featured an innovative design, using very small wheels for low drag and although the car was quick, it was not the most reliable car in the field
The team became more competitive the following year, replacing the Harris car with a Peter Bryant design owing some elements to his Ti22 'titanium car' with Jackie Oliver also arriving from this effort and finishing eighth in the CanAm championship. The team also found some financial backing in Universal Oil Products (UOP).
Shadow came to dominate the shortened 1974 series, although by this point they were competing largely against privateers, the works McLaren and Porsche efforts having left the series.
1973-1974: Entry into Formula One
Towards the end of 1972, Nichols announced that he was entering his team into Formula One with UOP sponsored cars designed by Tony Southgate, who had designed the BRM that gave Jean-Pierre Beltoise victory at the Monaco Grand Prix the previous year.
The team debuted in Formula One at the 1973 South African Grand Prix with the DN1 chassis. Two cars were available for drivers Jackie Oliver and George Follmer, as well as a private entry for Graham Hill who ran his car under the Embassy Hill banner.
For 1974, the team hired two of the most promising drivers of the time: American Peter Revson and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jarier. During a practice run for the South African Grand Prix Revson was killed by a suspension failure on his DN3. He was replaced by Tom Pryce.
1975-1977: Peak of success
The new DN5 made the pole driven by Jean-Pierre Jarier in the two first Grand Prix the 1975 season but had mechanical failure in both races. The DN5 and most other Shadow Formula One cars used Ford Cosworth DFV engines, which produced around 490 bhp. However, later in 1975,another car was driven by Jarier, the DN7, and it was fitted with a Matra V-12 engine producing around 550 bhp. As one can imagine, the wheelbase was substantially lengthened to accommodate the much larger and more expensive French powerplant, although due to budgetary issues, the Matra-powered DN7 was doomed as a one-off. Jarier's new teammate, Tom Pryce, showed his talent by winning the non-championship Race of Champions that same year. Pryce however, died in a freak accident at the 1977 South African Grand Prix.
The team replaced Pryce with Alan Jones, who won the team's only Grand Prix at the Austrian Grand Prix the same year.
Following the departure of Jones to Williams and a majority of their staff leaving to form their own team, Arrows, the Shadow team started to decline sharply and in 1980 they were absorbed by Theodore Racing, but lack of money meant the team was broken up by mid-season.