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McLaren M24 Chassis History

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  • McLaren M24 Chassis History

    I've been working on sorting out the individual chassis histories of the McLaren M24. The M24 was used in IndyCar between 1977 and 1982. Just a hobby at this point, but quite a bit of progress has been made. I thought I'd put some of the info out here. I'm always looking for further information, photos, news clippings, personal recollections, and so on.

    I'll start with M24-001. This was the first chassis built in Colnbrook and shipped to the US. It was used late in 1976 as the test mule for the chassis by Johnny Rutherford. It was refurbished and put into service as one of Rutherford's cars in 1977. He crashed at Mosport in 1977 and the car was out of action for the remainder of the season. It returned in 1978, but was again damaged in a crash at Texas World Speedway early in the season. It was rebuilt and sold to Jerry O'Connell in November 1978. McLaren personnel assisted the O'Connell team in prepping the chassis. It was first used by O'Connell at Indy in 1979. The chassis had been fitted with some new aero pieces, such as a narrow nose and side pod flip ups. It has also been updated to "B" spec (the main difference was in the front suspension). Tom Sneva put the car on the front row, but then crashed heavily 12 laps from the end. The tub was damaged enough that it was not rebuilt and it eventually ended up as a watering trough on Jerry O'Connell's California ranch.

    To go into a little more detail about the difference between the M24 and the M24B, the M24B featured a modified tub and changes to both the front rocker pivot and the front shock mount. McLaren produced 3 M24B tubs, but older M24 chassis were upgraded early in 1978.

    The M24 is one of my favorite IndyCar designs and my hope is that I can document its history.

    Real drivers don't need fenders!

  • #2
    I'm on a roll, so here is what we know about M24-002. It was built for Roger Penske and he took delivery in late 1976. Tom Sneva in 002 and Johnny Rutherford in 001 undertook most of the testing for the new chassis. M24-002 would then be assigned to Mario Andretti for the 1977 season. Mario only ran a limited schedule in 1977 as he was focused on Formula 1. Penske sold his pair of M24 chassis to George Walther following the 1977 season. It appears that 002 was primarily used in a reserve role in 1978 as Salt Walther preferred M24-004 (the car in which Tom Sneva won the 1977 pole with). It was then sold to journeyman Tom Frantz in 1980. Frantz entered the car at Indianapolis, but did not make a qualification attempt. Photos of the car from 1980 show that it retained much of Mario's red and white CAM2 livery. It next went to Don Mergard, who replaced the Cosworth with a stock block Chevy. Phil Threshie missed the 1981 Indy 500, but qualified 21st the next week at Milwaukee. Teddy Pilette then took over the car, who started 12th at Watkins Glen before dropping out with gearbox trouble. Pilette would attempt to qualify at Indy in 1982, but he did not make the race. The car is now housed at Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois, but it is incorrectly painted as Tom Sneva's 1977 Norton entry. It retains the stock block Chevy.
    Real drivers don't need fenders!

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    • #3
      M24-003 was a new M24 built from McLaren and first used in 1977 by Johnny Rutherford. It would remain with the team all the way through 1979. McLaren withrew from IndyCar at that point and the chassis was stored at the McLaren Engines facility in Livonia, Michigan. It was leased to Herb & Rose Wysard in 1980 and driven by Pete Halsmer at Phoenix and Vern Schuppan at Ontario. In 1981 it was sold to Schuppan (along with a single Cosworth). Schuppan had backing from Len & James Immke, as well as Jim Trueman. Schuppan drove the car to a remarkable 3rd place finish at Indy in 1981. He would compete in 4 additional races during the season. It eventually ended up with collector Tom Malloy and was restored to Schuppan's 1981 Red Roof Inns livery.
      Real drivers don't need fenders!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post
        I've been working on sorting out the individual chassis histories of the McLaren M24. The M24 was used in IndyCar between 1977 and 1982. Just a hobby at this point, but quite a bit of progress has been made. I thought I'd put some of the info out here. I'm always looking for further information, photos, news clippings, personal recollections, and so on.

        I'll start with M24-001. This was the first chassis built in Colnbrook and shipped to the US. It was used late in 1976 as the test mule for the chassis by Johnny Rutherford. It was refurbished and put into service as one of Rutherford's cars in 1977. He crashed at Mosport in 1977 and the car was out of action for the remainder of the season. It returned in 1978, but was again damaged in a crash at Texas World Speedway early in the season. It was rebuilt and sold to Jerry O'Connell in November 1978. McLaren personnel assisted the O'Connell team in prepping the chassis. It was first used by O'Connell at Indy in 1979. The chassis had been fitted with some new aero pieces, such as a narrow nose and side pod flip ups. It has also been updated to "B" spec (the main difference was in the front suspension). Tom Sneva put the car on the front row, but then crashed heavily 12 laps from the end. The tub was damaged enough that it was not rebuilt and it eventually ended up as a watering trough on Jerry O'Connell's California ranch.

        To go into a little more detail about the difference between the M24 and the M24B, the M24B featured a modified tub and changes to both the front rocker pivot and the front shock mount. McLaren produced 3 M24B tubs, but older M24 chassis were upgraded early in 1978.

        The M24 is one of my favorite IndyCar designs and my hope is that I can document its history.
        So you're saying the McLaren Sneva finished second in, in 1980 was NOT the car he crashed toward the end of the 79 race when the rear wing flew off?
        "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

        John Kennedy at American University 1963

        "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

        A. Lincoln

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        • #5
          M24-004 was delivered to Roger Penske in early 1977. It was driven by Tom Sneva during the season and it is this car in which Sneva recorded the first 200 mph lap at Indy. He put the car on the pole and finished 2nd. He would drive the car through the end of the season, occasionally alternating with the team's PC 5 (which was a Penske built clone of the M24). M24-004 was sold to George Walther in 1978 and used by Salt Walther for the bulk of the 1978 season. He also drove the car in the 1979 season opener at Phoenix. It was then retired in favor of the team's "new" PC 6. It eventually found its way back to Penske, though it is not clear how this happened. It was either traded by Walther for a PC 17 or purchased at auction. Either way, the car has since been restored to Tom Sneva's 1977 Norton livery and is on display at Penske's museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

          A quick note on Penske and the M24. Penske's F1 program was winding down by 1977 and the plan was for the factory in Poole to begin producing IndyCar chassis. The PC 5 was a project drawn up to help the team prep for what would eventually become the PC 6. Led by designer Geoff Ferris, the team upgraded their pair of M24 chassis with new suspension components. They also built at least one PC 5, which was a clone of the M24. Sneva drove the PC 5 a handful of times during the 1977 season. It appears that Penske Cars built 3 tubs in total, but it is not entirely clear how they were all used.

          The PC 5 that Sneva drove wound up with owner Russ Polak, who entered the car for Larry Dickson in 1978 and 1979. It would eventually end up with Joe Hunt, where it would be destroyed by Phil Krueger during practice for the 1982 race at Phoenix.

          Another Penske built tub (along with a bunch of parts and a pair of engines) would be sold to Warner Hodgdon. His team built up a new chassis with these parts and it was driven by Roger McCluskey at Indy in 1978. It would also be driven by Michael Chandler, Roger Mears, and Jerry Sneva. Chandler and Sneva attempted to make the 1981 Indy 500, but failed to do so. It is believed that the car ended up with collector Jeff Urwin and painted up in Mario Andretti's 1978 CAM2 livery.

          How the 3rd tub was used is unknown.
          Real drivers don't need fenders!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Belanger99 View Post

            So you're saying the McLaren Sneva finished second in, in 1980 was NOT the car he crashed toward the end of the 79 race when the rear wing flew off?
            Yes. The car he drove in 1980 was the chassis known as Ol' Hound. There is some contention about this chassis. There is one school that claims Ol' Hound was M24-005, but another that believes it was M24-001. In my opinion, Hound was M24-005.

            O'Connell would end up with 3 chassis. M24-005 was first used by Wally Dallenbach in 1978. The team added M24-001 for 1979. When M24-001 was destroyed, it was replaced with M24B-003. I've seen the sales record from McLaren that stated 001 was sold to O'Connell in November 1978 and then scrapped in 1979.
            Real drivers don't need fenders!

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            • #7
              Let's finish up today with M24-005. This was the final original spec M24 to be built by McLaren. It was brought in to replace M24-001 after Rutherford's Mosport accident. The chassis was sold to Jerry O'Connell following the season and used by Wally Dallenbach in 1978. It was then driven by Tom Sneva in 1979. Sneva also had M24-001 at Indy and then later in the season M24B-003, so it's not clear when it was raced in 1979. It does appear that Johnny Parsons used this car at Ontario late in the 1979 season, finishing last. It was retained by O'Connell in 1980 and rented to Vern Schuppan to use during the 1980 500. Schuppan was not able to make an attempt in the car due to a combination of mechanical and weather related issues. Sneva, who had wrecked the team's already qualified Phoenix chassis, then moved back into 005. He finished 2nd after starting dead last. He would continue to drive the McLaren during the 1980 season. It would then be sold to H&R Racing for 1981, where it was driven by Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. Bettenhausen had some decent runs in the car, but ended up heavily damaging the chassis prior to the 1981 race at Riverside. The tub was salvaged and sold to Joe Hunt. Hunt's driver/mechanic used the remains of the team's wrecked PC 5 to put M24-005 back together, but then Krueger wrecked during practice at Indy in 1982 and the car was not rebuilt. The remains of the car were purchased by collector Chuck Haines in 1994 and were then purchased by former driver Vern Schuppan around 1997. It is currently being restored to O'Connell's Sugaripe Prune livery in New Zealand.

              As I pointed out earlier, there is a bit of contention around this chassis. There are those who believe Ol' Hound was M24-001 and those who believe it was M24-005. Based on the information I have seen, I believe it is M24-005.
              Real drivers don't need fenders!

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              • #8
                M24B-003 was the first true "B" spec chassis built by McLaren. It was completed to replace M24-001 after it had been damaged at Texas World Speedway. It first appeared at Indianapolis in 1978, but there were issues with the car and Rutherford instead qualified M24-003. McLaren did not plan on using this chassis in 1979, having built 2 new "B" spec chassis. It was sold to Jerry O'Connell early in 1979 to replace M24-001. It first appeared with the O'Connell team at Michigan in July, where Sneva extensively damaged the car in practice. It was sold to Jim and Don Beaudoin in 1980 and they entered the car for Wisconsin driver Billy Engelhart. He qualified at Indianapolis in 1980, but failed to make the race in both 1981 and 1982. It was later sold to collector Don Devine and is now restored to Johnny Rutherford's 1979 Budweiser livery.

                Why was M24B-003 the first M24B? The sequence is off because when McLaren built the car up, they used the last M24B tub that was built.
                Real drivers don't need fenders!

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                • #9
                  M24B-001 was a new build for the 1979 season. It was driven by Johnny Rutherford in conjunction with the retained M24-003 and M24B-002 (which joined the team later in the season). It was also driven by Don Whittington at Ontario in September 1979. It was retained by McLaren after they pulled out of IndyCar racing and stored in Michigan. It was then painted papaya orange and used in an advertising campaign for the McLaren Mustang. It then went through a series of owners before it was restored by former McLaren mechanic Steve Roby and restored to its correct 1979 Budweiser livery. The car is currently in a private collection.
                  Real drivers don't need fenders!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    M24B-002 was the final M24 to roll out of Colnbrook. It first appeared at Indy in 1979, where it was Rutherford's primary car. It was sold to Wayne Woodward and John O'Hanlon for 1980. It was entered for Al Loquasto at Indy, but would not make the race as the team ran out of engines. At one point during May this car was leased to Jerry O'Connell to replace Tom Sneva's wrecked Phoenix, but O'Connell went back M24-005 in the end (and was then sued by Woodward for breach of contract). Several drivers drove the car in 1980: Lee Kunzman, Cliff Hucul, Spike Gehlhausen, Jerry Sneva, and Dick Ferguson. It was sold to Bill Tempero in 1981. Tempero installed a stock block Chevy and drove it throughout the season. He did not make the 1981 500 after wrecking during qualifying. The car was eventually reacquired by McLaren and restored. It is currently in 1st National Travel Check livery, which is not correct as that was the livery McLaren used in 1978. It was displayed for several years at the Donington Grand Prix Collection until it closed in 2018 and is now on periodic display at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.
                    Real drivers don't need fenders!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post

                      Yes. The car he drove in 1980 was the chassis known as Ol' Hound. There is some contention about this chassis. There is one school that claims Ol' Hound was M24-005, but another that believes it was M24-001. In my opinion, Hound was M24-005.

                      O'Connell would end up with 3 chassis. M24-005 was first used by Wally Dallenbach in 1978. The team added M24-001 for 1979. When M24-001 was destroyed, it was replaced with M24B-003. I've seen the sales record from McLaren that stated 001 was sold to O'Connell in November 1978 and then scrapped in 1979.
                      That's some good research. Keep going!!!!!!!!!!!
                      "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

                      John Kennedy at American University 1963

                      "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

                      A. Lincoln

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post

                        Another Penske built tub (along with a bunch of parts and a pair of engines) would be sold to Warner Hodgdon. His team built up a new chassis with these parts and it was driven by Roger McCluskey at Indy in 1978.
                        Minor nit pick to these excellent, informative posts. McCluskey drove the AMC stock block at Indy in '78, the M24 (or Penske clone) was driven by him at Indy in '79.
                        The Ayn Rand of Indycar

                        No one had to badge the Offy.

                        Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DaveL View Post

                          Minor nit pick to these excellent, informative posts. McCluskey drove the AMC stock block at Indy in '78, the M24 (or Penske clone) was driven by him at Indy in '79.
                          Good catch!

                          It's been hard to make figure out the cars Penske had. Here's a quote from Hodgdon mechanic Roger Flynn: "I built this McLaren from a box of parts we purchased from Penske, from the modified nose, side pods, rear wing, intake plenum and turbo header system, and many, many other components." Curiously, the tub had a Penske chassis plate, but a McLaren plate also came along in an envelope and it was stamped M24/6 which is non-standard for McLaren.

                          I think it's clear that Penske Cars were involved in modifying their existing M24 chassis and with building the PC 5. The PC 5 was intended to keep the shop busy and to learn about building IndyCars so that they could produce the PC 6 in 1978. Personally, I don't believe McLaren sold any tubs to Penske Cars, but I do think Penske Cars made copies using their existing M24.

                          It then gets confusing how the cars were used. The PC 5 was ready for Indy in 1977, but not used. It did not appear until Michigan. Sneve drove it a handful of times. Mario might have driven a PC 5 later in the season, which if true would indicate that they had 2 complete PC 5 chassis. I can't confirm this, however.

                          It also appears that the term PC 5 was used loosely at times. The Sneva M24 that is currently in the Penske museum is listed as a PC 5 (I believe).

                          My thought is that there was some swapping around of parts during the season and it's hard to know exactly what was being used at any given time, though an educated guess can be made.

                          I have on good account that Penske Cars built 3 M24 clone tubs. I believe one went into the PC 5 driven by Sneva and one eventually went to Hodgdon. The fate of the 3rd tub is unknown, but it isn't a stretch to believe it was simply scrapped when the team moved on from the PC 5 project. As it was, they quickly disposed of their M24/PC 5 inventory after 1977.
                          Real drivers don't need fenders!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post
                            I'm on a roll, so here is what we know about M24-002. It was built for Roger Penske and he took delivery in late 1976. Tom Sneva in 002 and Johnny Rutherford in 001 undertook most of the testing for the new chassis. M24-002 would then be assigned to Mario Andretti for the 1977 season. Mario only ran a limited schedule in 1977 as he was focused on Formula 1. ...

                            The car is now housed at Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois, but it is incorrectly painted as Tom Sneva's 1977 Norton entry. It retains the stock block Chevy.
                            Like you, I have always been a big fan of the M24 chassis. As an offshoot of McLaren's legendary M23 F1 car it has quite a racing pedigree. On top of all that, the Penske/CAM-2 livery (and dark-tinted windscreen) was stunning.

                            About twenty years ago I came painfully close to buying M24-002. The combination of McLaren/Penske/Andretti history made it an attractive target. At first I saw the fact that it had been converted to a Chevy stock block as a plus. It would be reliable and would avoid the hassle of running a methanol-fueled car along with the cost and complexity of running a turbocharged 2.65 Cosworth.

                            While negotiating with the sellers and poring over the photos of the car it became increasingly obvious that if I was going to buy it the only proper thing to do (from my point of view) would be to return it to the original turbo Cosworth setup; a very expensive and time-consuming process. I finally passed on it and it sold some time thereafter. I think it changed hands a time or two after that.

                            I'll dig around and locate the photos that were sent to me way back when and post them in this thread.

                            I am curious, however, as to what happened to the car. While it may well be that it is, as you said, at the Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois, there is this car (see video below) that is purported to be Mario's M24-002. It is possible that this is another M24 done up in the same livery as Mario's, perhaps you have some information on that.





                            I do suspect the car in the video is not M24-002. It's nicely restored, but the flares on top of the side pods ahead of the rear tires indicate it as being an M24B; or at least an M24 that got updated. Likewise the engine cover is different as is the additional radiator (probably an oil cooler) on the side of the left side pod.

                            Here's the qualifying photo of Mario with M24-002.


                            imsc4957.jpg?w=1000&h=579&crop=1.jpg
                            Last edited by Spike; 08-05-2020, 07:39 PM.
                            "I would really like to go to NASCAR. I really enjoy NASCAR and if I could be there in a couple of years that's where I'd want to be." - Jeff Gordon (after testing a Formula Super Vee)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pelican Joe View Post
                              M24-003 was a new M24 built from McLaren and first used in 1977 by Johnny Rutherford. It would remain with the team all the way through 1979. McLaren withrew from IndyCar at that point and the chassis was stored at the McLaren Engines facility in Livonia, Michigan. It was leased to Herb & Rose Wysard in 1980 and driven by Pete Halsmer at Phoenix and Vern Schuppan at Ontario. In 1981 it was sold to Schuppan (along with a single Cosworth). Schuppan had backing from Len & James Immke, as well as Jim Trueman. Schuppan drove the car to a remarkable 3rd place finish at Indy in 1981. He would compete in 4 additional races during the season. It eventually ended up with collector Tom Malloy and was restored to Schuppan's 1981 Red Roof Inns livery.
                              I worked with Vern some years back at Long Beach when he did demonstration laps of the Gurney Eagle F-5000 car that finished second at the first Long Beach Grand Prix. Tom Malloy has that car, too.

                              Here's a photo of Schuppan's '81 M24 as it sits in Tom's building. He has the first, second and third place finishers from the 1981 Indy 500. Below it is a photo of the Eagle Vern drove at Long Beach.


                              CIMG0336.JPG

                              CIMG0322.JPG






                              "I would really like to go to NASCAR. I really enjoy NASCAR and if I could be there in a couple of years that's where I'd want to be." - Jeff Gordon (after testing a Formula Super Vee)

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