Don Nichols was a Formula 1 and Can-Am entrant and constructor.
A former intelligence officer in the US Army, Nichols established a company in California called Advanced Vehicle Systems in 1968.
The company was later renamed “Shadow”, perhaps a subtle reference to the founder’s past.
Shadow first tackled the Can-Am series with a radical low-profile car driven by American George Follmer, before expanding into Formula One in 1972, supported by oil company UOP.
Ex-BRM designer Tony Southgate was hired and he designed the Shadow DN1 driven by Jackie Oliver and Follmer in 1973.
Don Nichols then hired Peter Revson and Jean-Pierre Jarier for the 1974 season, but Revson’s death in South Africa while testing the DN3 was a big blow.
Early 1975, Jarier scored two consecutive poles in Argentina and Brazil and should have won both races, but was let down by poor reliability. The Frenchman brought the team’s first podium, when he finished 3rd in Monaco. Welshman Tom Pryce was brought on board and duly won the 1975 Race of Champions.
Sadly, Pryce was killed at the 1977 South African Grand Prix, when he hit a fire marshal running across the track to put out a small fire onboard teammate Renzo Zorzi’s car.
For 1978, Nichols hired Alan Jones and Riccardo Patrese. In Austria, Jones put in a great performance, surprising everybody and winning the Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, a few months later, several key figures left the team, among them Oliver, Southgate and Patrese, to form the Arrows team.
The following seasons were difficult ones. Regazzoni, Stuck and later Lammers and de Angelis tried there best, but couldn’t make miracles, the team being terribly underfunded.
Shadow fortunes declined even more in 1980, to the point were the team had to be sold to Theodore Racing’s Teddy Yip in 1981.
Shadow existed for less than a decade, yet won in F1, F5000, and Can-Am. To this day, Don Nichols remains one of the three Americans, along with Dan Gurney and Roger Penske, to ever win in Formula One as a constructor.