New Book a Fitting 50th Anniversary Tribute to Don Nichols’ Shadow Racers

Champaign, IL — Vintage Motorsport magazine is fortunate to count Pete Lyons and his Fast Lines column among our regular contributors and motorsports history content, so we’re happy to report that Lyons’ newest book — Shadow: The Magnificent Machines of a Man of Mystery — will be available in early August. Lyons will personally autograph a copy when you order directly at petelyons.com.

And who better to tell the story of the iconic Shadow race cars and Don Nichols, the man who created them, than a veteran motorsports writer and photographer who was at the car’s debut in 1970? Lyons covered many of Shadow’s 11 racing seasons, beginning with its inaugural year when he was a journalist on North America’s famed Can-Am series. The book, Lyons’ 18th published work, includes more than 600 photos in 464 pages.

VM: What compelled you to write this book?

PL: Even though Shadow was the only United States-based team to win a Can-Am championship and one of only three to score a victory in Formula 1, I find it curious that it seems to be one of the lesser-known American marques. Don Nichols was a rather secretive person. Not much was written about him, and I wanted to be sure that his legacy as the innovator of these magnificent race cars and the world-class team he created wasn’t lost.

As a working race reporter and photographer, I witnessed Shadow’s debut in 1970, when George Follmer drove the astonishingly novel “Tiny Tire” AVS1 at Mosport’s Can-Am. I was also at the South African Grand Prix in 1973 when George and a DN1 took his and the team’s first Formula 1 world championship point.

I covered the races, I studied the cars, I knew the people — Nichols himself, his drivers (Follmer, Vic Elford, Jackie Oliver, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Peter Revson, Brian Redman, Tom Pryce, Alan Jones and others), as well as Shadow designers Trevor Harris, Peter Bryant and Tony Southgate, plus many of the indefatigable Shadowmen of the team. This book is the first ever written by someone who was actually there at the time.

VM: What can readers expect?

PL: The book tells the stories of all the races, many of which I reported on in person from tracks worldwide — places of legend like Mosport, Saint-Jovite, Watkins Glen, Road America, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, Riverside, Monaco, Nürburgring, Österreichring, Monza, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Anderstorp, Zandvoort, Montjuic, Jarama, Dijon, Paul Ricard, Kyalami, Fuji and others.

But I also tell of Don Nichols and his extraordinary life story. I share my memories of Don, along with my conversations with him, his drivers and car designers. Years after the Shadow racing series ended, my wife Lorna and I were privileged to spend many days with the aged but still active Shadowman at his storied “Wizards Cave” near Monterey, California, hearing the history from the man himself. We’re grateful that Don’s daughter, Penny, also contributed her unique insights about her dad and her experiences with him in racing.

This book has been a labor of love, long in the making.