The Advanced Vehicle System (AVS) began in 1970 and created by Don Nichols. The cars were called Shadows. The company was established with the purpose of creating racers that had limited aerodynamic drag through minimal front area on the cars. Nichols approached Firestone with a request to have tires created that were smaller in diameter to conventional race tires at the time. The reasoning for the request was to help in the reduction of aerodynamic drag. When other manufacturers were using 24-inch tires in the front and 26-inch in the rear, Nichols wanted to use 17 in the front and 19 in the rear. There were flaws to this thinking; the smaller tires meant smaller brakes and rotors which meant less stopping power. Another side effect of smaller brakes was that they were unable to dissipate the heat fast enough and this lead to various other tires.
A Chevrolet big-block engine was chosen as the power unit for the car. Due to the design of the car there was no room for the radiator to fit into the body. Trevor Harris had designed the car. The only logical place to fit the radiator was to mount it on the rear wing. This did not work well. Though many of the ideas were innovative in concept, they were failures in reality. This was a common theme in racing, such as Formula One. some ideas worked; others did not. The idea of mid-engine placement and the use of aerodynamic aids greatly revolutionized the sport. Other ideas, such as Tyrrells six-wheel car, though creative, were not very successful in the sport.
When the CanAm series came to a close in 1974, Shadow was able to focus their full efforts on Formula One. In 1972, Nichols had announced they would be competing with UOP sponsored cars designed by Tony Southgate. Their racing debut was the 1973 South African Grand Prix with the DN1 chassis. Jackie Oliver drove one car and George Follmer was in the other. Graham hill drove as a private entry under the Embassy Hill banner.
For the 1974 season, Peter Revson and Jean-Pierre Jarier were hired as the team drivers. Sadly, at a practice run at the South African Grand Prix, the suspension on Reveson's DN3 failed and he was killed. Tom Pryce was hired to take over his duties as factory driver.
The DN5 was debuted for the 1975 season. Power was from the popular Ford/Cosworth DFV V8 engine which produced nearly 500 horsepower. As had many Shadow cars in the past, the DN5 was plagued by mechanical failure.
Late in the 1975 season, the DN7 was introduced. Power was from a Matra V12 engine which provided 550 horsepower. To accommodate the larger and heavier engine, the wheelbase was considerably longer than the prior cars. Due to its expense and budget issues, only one example of the DN7 was ever created.
For the 1976 season, Pyrce and Jarrier raced in DN5, DN5B, and DN8 entries. Together they scored ten points with the team finishing 8th in the manufacturers title.
The following year, 23 points were scored from the DN5B and DN8 cars. Jarier raced for Shadow only once during the season, near the close at the US Grand Prix where he scored a ninth place finish. Pryce was with the team for only a short period during the start of the season. Alan Jones and Riccardo Patrese served as the factory drivers. Jackie Oliver drove once at the Swedish Grand Prix finishing in 9th place. Arturo Merzario drove once but failed to finish the race. Renzo Zorzio competed in the five races at the start of the season but finished only once.
In 1978, six points were scored in the DN8 and DN9. Team drivers were Hans-Joachim stuck and Clay Regazzoni. The team finished the season in 11th place. They improved the following year to 10th place, though only 3 points were scored. The DN9 was driven by Jan Lammers and Elio de Angelis.
The DN11 and DN12 were entered for the 1980 season, though no points were scored. Part way through the season, the team withdrew from competition.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009