Car Detail

1979 March 79B Formula Atlantic - Ex Derek Daly pro car


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This is the Fred Opert Racing team car raced by F1 driver, Derek Daly, in the CASC pro Formula Atlantic series in 1979. The Fred Opert Racing team fielded cars for multiple F1 drivers, including Jacques Laffite, Didier Pironi, Keke Rosberg, Patrick Depallier, and others. This March was sponsored by fashion designer Le Culottier jeans. A period photo of the car by Marc Sproule can be seen at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/46681980@N03/4358009859/in/set-72157623186773769/. The March still retains its original chassis tag on the tub.

Interestingly, photos of Daly racing the car at the 1979 Grand Prix de Trois-RiviŤres show side pods with early ground effects tunnels and skirts being used. Those same, unique, pods come with the car, along with a set of the earlier style conventional non-ground effects side pods.

The history of the car through the 1980ís is as yet un-researched. However, in the early 1990's, the March became part of the Indy Car Experience at Phoenix International Raceway, where it was used as a stepping stone to Indy Car racing. The Indy Car Experience subsequently went bankrupt. The bank seized all the property and placed the car in a locked "Conex" container to be held as assets to be sold at some point in the bankruptcy proceeding. In approximately the summer of 94, Todd Cook of TCE Performances Products in Tempe, AZ, acquired the Conex container and it's contents from the bank. Todd restored the March.

Jon Gibson next acquired the car in 1994. He took the car to Thunderhill for testing. Thereafter, the car was acquired by Jim McDonald, who ran the car for several years with development and support from Virtuoso Performance.

The car was next acquired by Don Sandy and Art Hebert from San Rafael, CA in early 2011. The car won its first time out at the CSRG Annual First Event held at Infineon Raceway in March. That was followed up with a second place, behind Dan Marvin, at the 2012 LSR invitational at Laguna Seca. The car was entered in the inaugural Formula Atlantic race at the Monterey Reunion, but retired after one lap when the nose was knocked loose by another car. The season finished with another podium finish at the CSRG Charity Classic at Sonoma Raceway. The car was not raced in 2013.




This March 79B has been the subject of extensive development, improvement, and preparation by Virtuoso Performance. Below is a description by Virtuoso Performance of the work done through 2010:

March 79B 021 upgrades / restoration operations as of September, 2010

1. Complete engine rebuild approximately 5 engine hours ago, including pistons, rings, rods, valve springs, valves, retainers, keepers, bearings, oil pump, timing belts, all seals, etc.

2. Oil system: Upgraded high-volume pump with larger capacity cooler and custom mount system. All oil hoses and fittings replaced with stainless braided lines.

3. All fuel hoses replaced, Facet high-volume electric pump and rebuilt 48 DCOE carbs. Intake airbox modified to accept modern K&N reusable air filter.

4. Transmission opened and inspected after most recent track outing (September 2010) all OK

5. Drivetrain upgrade to CV joints: The original shafts and U-joints were unreliable and now are almost impossible to obtain. The upgrade uses custom made gun-drilled shafts and GKN Motorsports CV joints. The output shafts in the FT-200 are also replaced, and custom stub axles were made to fit the new CVís. The uprights were crack checked and coated.

6. Wheel studs: The center lock wheel studs on Marches were prone to failure. These were replaced with custom made studs made from EN40 steel, with rolled threads and heat treated.

7. Bearing upgrade: The March wheel bearings were originally sourced from a Citroen and were both unreliable and unobtainable. New bearing carriers are machined from steel and bolt into the original magnesium uprights. These carriers accept a modern sealed motorsports wheel bearing which is both robust and easy to replace.

8. Engine mount upgrade: The original engine mount layout in a 79B allowed for significant flex between the engine and the chassis, as it utilized brackets that bolted to the oil pan via the pan bolts. The new design utilizes a custom made engine plate, custom machined front cover and fabricated mounts attached to machined bosses on the engine. This is an evolved version of the system used on the Ian Sheckter car. It vastly stiffens the back end of the car. Additionally, there are two undercar braces which stabilize the relationship of the rear bulkhead to the engine adapter / rear suspension mount. This eliminates the problem of the engine adapter cracking. This is a costly, complex fabrication but it really improves the car.

9. Ignition system: Full MSD system with integral rev limiter and crank trigger. Separate start retard system installed.

10. Starter: Gear reduction lightweight starter with custom adapter

11. Brake system: Full rebuild with cockpit adjustable bias. Vented discs front and rear to F2 spec. Four pot calipers all around, new stainless lines.

12. Clutch: Replaced at engine build, full metallic double disc with new release bearing and all hydraulics rebuilt.

13. Battery: Replaced September 2010, starter booster plug at rear installed

14. Wheels: Recently crack checked and inspected

15. Shocks: Koni alloy 8212 double adjustable, with new springs front and rear. Full chassis set-up and alignment just performed.

This car was always maintained and upgraded to the highest standards. It was track tested in September, 2010, and performed as it should. Prior to the track test a full race prep was performed, including all new fluids, compression / leak down tests, valve clearances checked, full nut and bolt, etc. The car truly is ready for the next race.

Since 2010, the March has received a new Virtuoso Performance Cosworth engine, and Tilton clutch. Both now have one race on them. The FT-200 gearbox has a total of seven races on it, and works perfectly. Shocks are Koni double adjustable with Eibach springs. The brakes are Lockheed AP. It has a Smiths tach, and fire suppression system.

Chassis Number: 79B-21
Engine Number:


Price: Sold          Currency Converter

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