So they split.
Caldwell's company eventually closed shop, and Posey signed to drive the 1971
Formula A circuit in a Surtees-Chevrolet prepared by Champ Carr, Inc., an
amalgam of Doug Champlin, an Oklahoma manufacturer, and Fred Carrillo, a
Southern California racing-parts maker. For the first time in Posey's career,
really, the burden of performance was entirely on his own shoulders.
In the eight
races of the Formula A Continental championship, Posey won just once (David
Hobbs won five events and the series title), but he qualified on the pole three
times, in the front row for all eight, and always turned in a solid drive. He
also won a United Slates Auto Club road race at Kent, Wash., and in general
enjoyed the most substantial season of his career. So substantial, in fact,
that he landed a sponsorship of around $100,000 from Delta Tires of Los Angeles
for the 1972 Formula A season, and an offer of a promising ride for the 1972
USAC Triple Crown events. In addition, by midseason there were strong rumors
that he would make his Formula I debut at the U.S. Grand Prix in either a car
prepared by Ken Tyrell, the genius behind Stewart's phenomenal success, or one
from the Team Surtees shop.
The Surtees ride
materialized, and although the car broke down after 15 laps Posey could say,
"I am happy with the progress I've made in the first seven years."
Still, there are
detractors. A close friend said, "He has these tremendous lapses of
concentration, lapses that a driver at his stage should have eliminated.
Mechanical failure is always a possibility, and the odds of getting hurt just
because of that are bad enough, but when you add brain fade...."
looks forward to a full Grand Prix effort, if not by next year, then certainly
by 1973 or '74. Whenever it happens, he'll be more than ready.
being admitted to the best school," Posey says. "I've gone to the
Can-Am school and the Formula A school. In the Formula A school I'm a teacher.
Hobbs is as good a driver as I am, but no better in any way. and I haven't been
able to learn from him. I would like to go to the Formula I school and be a
weekend I could race Stewart. Admittedly, I won't be wheel to wheel with him. I
will be passed in practice and lapped in the race, but I will see his technique
and I will learn from him. I would expect that I already do some things better
than he does. My task would be to find out what I don't do as well and at least
bring those things up to his level. Then I'll know I can race with him, and
maybe beat him and have my turn at the top."
Given the strange
financial structure of Grand Prix racing, in which all but the top half-dozen
drivers buy their rides from constructors and then must scramble for sponsors
or backers or turn to their own bankroll to defray the $100,000 or so yearly
tab, Posey could probably be a Grand Prix regular today. But that is not the
way Posey wants to go.
question of honor and prestige," he says. "I want my entrance into
Grand Prix racing to be pure. I want someone else to pay for all of it. They
It could be said
of Sam Posey that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a steering
wheel in his hands. As far as Posey is concerned, the less said about the
silver spoon the better. One of Posey's grandfathers was for a time the general
manager of the Pennsylvania Railroad; the other was a prominent businessman who
many years ago turned down the chance to participate in the early development
of a fledgling enterprise called International Business Machines. (Sam never
knew his father. A Navy lieutenant during World War II, he was killed in a
Kamikaze attack on the second morning of the Okinawa invasion while aboard a
troop carrier. Several years later Sam's mother was remarried, to Dr. William
Moore, a New York surgeon.)