There were 3 (1970) race cars and 6 (1971) promotional/show cars built by T/G racing. We wound up the 69 T/A series in 3rd place and Pontiac was coming out with the new body style in 70 ½. The 69’s were actually run with 68 sheet metal because of an SCCA ruling and the shop prepared for the 70 season. GM was late with the introduction of the new Firebird so components were prepared while we waited for the new cars. In February of 1970, I took the company hauler to Pontiac Michigan (Pontiac had not shown the cars nor did the dealers have them yet) to pick up the first 2 cars. These Firebirds were complete except for interiors because I was told that the interiors had not been received from the upholstery supplier. The cars were not true “cars in white” as they had undercoating, stock engine, wiring etc. which would be stripped out in our California shop. For one of the cars, I was advised that it was car # 1 off the assembly line. It had 4 small jig holes, or measuring holes in the roof and those holes remained throughout our build and racing seasons. When picking up the cars, I also brought quite a few factory supplied parts, spindles, steering components etc. I delivered the cars to our shop, 18422 Topham St., Tarzana, California where we immediately went to work as we were late and under the gun. I took the cars to the acid dipper as they were all acid dipped. The third Firebird I believe was secured from a local Pontiac dealer after the cars were introduced and became readily available. These cars were campaigned by Jerry Titus through the 70 Season until Jerry was fatally injured at Road America. They were campaigned by T/G Racing in the base color of white with blue accents. The car Jerry was injured in was scrapped – it was a total write off. Now we were down to 2 cars. T/G chose to finish off the season with David Hobbs as lead driver and John Cordts as 2nd driver. The cars were repainted base blue with white or yellow accents after Jerry’s accident and finished the season that way. So at the end of the season Pontiac withdrew from the program and we had 2 cars and a reasonable parts supply. At this point, BFG had not entered the picture. The T/G team was scaled back and looking for a sponsor or activity for 1971. The California shop was still open and I had moved back to Canada.
Godsall was approached by BFG to discuss trying a new street tire they were going to introduce –the Radial T/A in a racing venue... My understanding was that they had someone that worked for their advertising agency who was an amateur racer and envisioned driving the car himself and advertising the tires durability through racing. An agreement was made to run the car at a 4 hour endurance race that fall in Mosport. John Cordts was the driver and Peter Dodge and Paul Walden (T/G crew – Calif.) flew in and joined me to work the race. We met at Mosport and the BFG tires had no lettering on them, nor did the BFG guys wear any identifiable clothing. In practice the tires were slow but decent. When the race started the tires started chunking. Due to excessive heat build up and a very deep tread we had a problem. The Goodrich guys kept putting new tires on rims and we the crew kept making pit stops. I believe we went through 20 tires that day and finished the race in 3rd place on the last set of tires which were also coming apart. Cordts saved the day for us by smooth driving and reducing tire wear. We had performed very well as a crew with faultless numerous pit stops. The effort was not embarrassing as BFG had never tested the tire and were in a learning curve. Everyone was pleased but more work was needed on the BFG product. Approximately the next weekend Cordts and I took the car to Watkins Glen for an SCCA event. This car was still dark blue-no lettering. Just the two of us went as they weren’t long races and we didn’t intend changing tires. BFG Engineers had done their homework. They X-Rayed the tires to determine the directional “wrap” of the radial wires and shaved the tires to a much reduced tread depth to reduce heat build up. The tires were great, still not fast but dependable. In the Saturday race it was extremely hot and I had installed the fan not being concerned with H.P loss. The starter held the cars on the grid a long time and most cars overheated. When the flag dropped the Firebird and Cordts performed admirably. The competitors were overheating and we won our class. I also recollect a Sunday’s race with heavy rain showers and the BFG tire was good in the rain and of course John Cordts was an excellent rain driver. Once again we won our class and BFG were impressed. These were the first production races won by a street radial! The tires had proven themselves dependable and while a little slow could be fairly competitive in the right field. The car itself looked great and Cordts was flawless. I have no knowledge of whether Godsall was paid for these races or not. It certainly set the stage for the signing of a contract as BFG guys were all very pleased and as a result of the placing at these three races I believe they thought the tire was competitive. The Glen race resulted in a BFG magazine ad campaign introducing the T/A Radial and Cordt's win.
Godsall negotiated a contract with BFG that to the best of my knowledge was for Daytona, Sebring and SCCA Northeast (8) races plus runoffs if invited. The value of the sponsorship was $125,000 plus a daily rate for filming of commercials, trucking of race car at $1.00 or $1.25 a mile plus a race car collision clause. I have no idea if there was a bonus clause or what other perks there may have been. Also, included in this contract was that T/G Racing would build, for an additional fee (unknown) a total of 6 promotional/show BFG Tirebirds. The show cars were purchased new from a Pontiac dealer in Long Beach and were made into show cars in the T/G shop in Tarzana. No one could ever confuse them with a real race car as they had a phony fuel cell, exhaust tubing roll cage, factory engine, wiring, heater etc. The engine compartment was tricked up a bit, had headers, Minilight wheels and of course BFG TIREBIRD graphics with BFG tires installed. These cars went out to BFG divisions to be used for store promotions, shows and Radial T/A introductions. So the final tally of 1970 Firebird cars built by T/G was 6 SHOW CARS, 3 RACE CARS. (one car lost at Road America)
The Radial T/A was introduced thru the Tirebird program in 1971 - 47 years ago. This tire is still merchandised under the same name in 2018 and was the first radial tire to win in a race.
The BFG Tirebird was successfully raced across the US. The BFG Tirebird show car program was the first time I can remember a company actively promoting their track performance thru showcars and spreading cars throughout their U S dealers.
Daytona & the Backup Camaro
SCCA & the Tirebird
1971 A/S SCCA results:
End of the Season
Yes we made money in the 1971 season!
Doug Innes, May 2011