John Cordts came to Canada from Sweden in the early 1950s, when he was 18, and settled in North Bay, Ont., a place he still considers to be his home town. Thoroughly familiar with machinery from the time he was very young, he started racing, as many Canadians do – on the ice, in winter. From there he moved to a brand-new MGA and soon made his presence known in amateur road racing. He was spotted by Dave Billes of Performance Engineering, who offered him a seat in the company Corvette. He won the Canadian Championship for big bore sports cars in 1965 against some pretty stiff competition. This convinced Billes that Cordts had the Right Stuff (in spades: in 1968, he set a track record of 101.8 mph at Harewood Acres that stood until the track closed in 1970) and the two of them went racing in 1966 in the famous Can-Am series with a McLaren. Now money, although not exactly scarce, was not in plentiful supply and Cordts’ skill at keeping ailing Can-Am cars on the track and in the money became legendary. A Road & Track magazine correspondent once wrote: “If I had a Can-Am car, I would want John Cordts to drive it.” In 1969, Cordts was offered a once-in-a-lifetime ride, a seat in a Brabham-Climax Formula One car for that year’s Grand Prix of Canada at Mosport. Only five Canadian drivers made the field for the Canadian GP in the Sixties and John Cordts was one of them – Eppie Weitzes, George Eaton, Al Pease and Bill Brack being the others. After a spin in the original Trans-Am series for BF Goodrich in the early 1970s, John Cordts left motorsport and retired to Vancouver Island.
Image courtesy of John Denniston