Marilyn Fox: The first lady of the Can-Am | ClassicCars.com Journal

Marilyn Fox: The primary girl of the Can-Am | ClassicCars.com Journal


The Canadian-American Problem Cup Sequence and its limitless sports activities racing vehicles shook the aggressive motorsports world from 1966 to 1974. These ground-pounders are nonetheless handled with awe and reverence immediately. In an age during which the vehicles have been the celebrities, lots of the personalities from that unbelievable time of Can-Am racing have pale.

Within the Highway America pit lane with John Gunn in 1973

Nonetheless, by no means to be forgotten
in racing circles is Marilyn Fox Halder. Folks from that period will let you know she
was good, stunning and charismatic. A fortunate German ex-pat racer named Lothar
Motschenbacher, an unbiased Can-Am crew proprietor and driver, known as Marilyn his
crew supervisor and spouse, this in an period when ladies have been both trophies, stayed
house, or got a clipboard and a stopwatch and put to work on timing and
scoring.

Marilyn’s introduction to racing
got here by her profession as a dancer. She had been dancing and entertaining
going again to her early childhood. She was doing commercials by day and dancing
on the Millionaire’s Membership, a non-public consuming institution with stay
leisure on La Cienega Boulevard within the evenings. The constructing itself
would turn out to be ‘OSKO’s’ and was Los Angeles’ hottest nightclub
membership through the disco-era.

It was there she met Peter and Harry Rothschild. They owned the Powerine Oil Co., a petroleum refinery enterprise based by their father in Southern California. They have been trying to present high-octane gas to the racing golf equipment and tracks and employed Marilyn as a promotional mannequin and “race queen” to symbolize the Powerine Model on the races.

“It gave the impression of enjoyable and I
love vehicles!” she remembers.

That love of vehicles might by no means have
totally developed itself however for that likelihood assembly and the brand new gig.

“I at all times favored the techie
aspect of how issues work,” she defined. “My dad at all times had Fords, however then he
purchased a Packard. Darkish Blue and it was beautiful!”

Off to the races Marilyn went.

“At first, I didn’t
know the place I used to be going, so I had a chaperone that may take me round.”

Her first race was at Riverside.
She additionally appeared at fuel station grand openings. It was at one among these races,
a 12 months and a half into her stint, {that a} soft-spoken German approached her
throughout a race weekend at Santa Barbara.

Lothar
Motsenbacher arrived in Southern California
from Germany, the place he had been an apprentice Mercedes-Benz manufacturing facility mechanic.
He opened his personal Mercedes restore store off Ventura Boulevard and took an
curiosity in racing. By 1962, he had purchased himself an ex-Ken Miles Lotus 22
System Junior. In 1963 and 1964, he received 32 races, 13 of them consecutively.

Lothar (left) chats up Tony ‘a2z’ Adamowicz whereas trying over a McLaren Can-Am machine at his store in Santa Ana, California

Motsenbacher moved as much as a Cobra,
after which to a King Cobra. From there, he would enter the Can-Am sequence in its
inaugural 12 months, 1966.

He had identified Marilyn from the quite a few award ceremonies the place he was getting trophies, but it surely was on this specific event he provided Marilyn a journey again to Los Angeles. The remaining, they are saying, is historical past.

Very long time buddies.. Marilyn with Mario Andretti and Paul Newman

She took a deep curiosity within the
vehicles that he raced. Being an ace wrench,
Motsenbacher constructed his personal engines and had components neatly organized throughout
builds. Marilyn bought fairly the schooling, figuring out the components and watching how
all of them went collectively.

Within the Can-Am Sequence, Motsenbacher
raced his first season in a McLaren M1B backed by actor Dan Blocker – identified to
thousands and thousands of followers as Hoss Cartwright on the hit TV present Bonanza. John Surtees in a Lola T70 would take the very first
championship earlier than McLaren would dominate the following 5 years.

Marilyn remembers that Lothar and
Bruce McLaren have been fairly shut. “They each had engineering
minds and associated simply to one another.”

Marilyn has fairly of assortment of candid images from the period (clockwise from prime left) Dan Gurney, Peter Revson, Sam Posey, Denny Hulme

Motsenbacher would purchase all his
privateer race vehicles instantly from McLaren. Motsenbacher’s greatest championship
outcome got here in an M8B in 1970, when he was runner-up to Denny Hulme. Sadly, Bruce
McLaren was killed a testing crash at Goodwood earlier than that season started.

It was a harmful period of racing. Lives have been taken frequently. Marilyn had labored in public relations for Carroll Shelby for a bit when Dave MacDonald was driving – and successful with — the King Cobra. In 1964, MacDonald was killed at Indianapolis. Being a part of primarily a touring street present, deep relationships have been shaped. “I bought to know all people, they usually turned my household. There was deep camaraderie.”

(Clockwise from prime left) Lothar with Stirling Moss and Peter Gethin; Francois Cevert; Jim Corridor; Jackie Oliver

An previous custom was regaled by
Marilyn. There was a time when the winner would get a kiss from the race queen
as they hoisted their trophy.

“I acquired a beautiful
letter from Sherry MacDonald (Dave MacDonald’s widow),” she recalled. “Again
within the days after I was a race queen, (Sherry) mentioned ‘the rationale I beloved you so
a lot was that you’d make the wives kiss (the husband winner) earlier than you
did.”

However what was the response when a driver was killed? “It’s a mindset,” she associated. “I feel all of the drivers have it and don’t even know they do it. They put it behind them and say, ‘I’m doing every part proper and I’m going to be tremendous.’ The thoughts takes over and erases doubt. For those who did have a doubt, you couldn’t race.”

(clockwise from prime left) Mark Donohue, Roger Penske, Derek Bell, Mario Andretti

Because the racing crew grew, Marilyn
discovered herself in a administration position. She dealt with every part from logistics to
paperwork. “The crew would keep on
the street and after a race, Lothar would ship the engine house to be rebuilt. He
would fly again and rebuild the engines himself – we have been an unbiased crew,
in any case. Most occasions I might stick with the automobile and get the following race all
organized with motels, paperwork, payroll – even driving the truck!”

Oh, and she or he additionally did timing and
scoring.

Motsenbacher retired from racing in 1973 however continued to construct race vehicles and do Mercedes restorations. They divorced, however have remained good pals. Marilyn remarried to Rear Admiral (ret.) Bob Halder, a Navy physician.

Marilyn Fox Halder

She has been very concerned in
Can-Am reunion occasions and produced numerous movies known as Then and Now:
Can-Am Recollections.
She additionally continues to carry out as a faucet dancer.

It’s charming to listen to Marilyn
speak about all her previous pals from that gilded period of motorsport, a literal who’s-who
that the majority of us can solely examine in books. She remembers their quirks, their
senses of humor, and their friendships.

She continues to maintain up with many
previous pals from the period, as she places it, “to inform tales that solely we are able to keep in mind.”





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