Bob Cozza was an Alfa Romeo dealer who ran a race team based in Buffalo, New York. Bobcor was the name of the Team and was of course specialized in racing Alfa Romeos. The team started with racing Alfa Romeo GTAs in 1968 in the Trans Am 2.5 Challenge. Until 1971, the Bobcor team was very succesful, but in 1972, Datsun entered a factory team. With a $1.000.000 budget, they proved unbeatable, even for the Alfa GTA’s of Bobcor Racing. The new Alfa Romeo GTAm had not been allowed to enter the Trans Am Series and Bobcor had no competitive car to race in 1972. Bert Everett’s Alfa Romeo GTA was still active for Bobcor in the 1972 season, but the Datsuns were the winners.
In 1972, Bert Everett ran IMSA, running a Ford Escort with John Buffum. The car delivered good results, the best result being a third overall at the 6 Hours of Mid Ohio with John Buffum-Bert Everett. Bert Everett and Bob Cozza travelled to England to meet with Keith Duckworth, one of the founders of Cosworth, and buy one of his racing cars.
For the next year, Bobcor entered one Ford Escort BDA, and win the under 2,0L class in the Trans Am Championship. The car won its class in each of the five races they entered. Bob Cozza: “In 1972, right after our GTA lost the Trans-Am championship to Pete Brock’s 510 Datsuns, I approached Alfa Romeo USA to be my partner in a Montreal race car. I owned a Montreal street car and knew the potential of this car. Aldo Bozzi, President of Alfa USA, agreed to put in $100,000 for the project. I flew to Italy and sat down with my good friend Carlo Chiti and Salvatore Gabarini and designed the car. Autodelta was very busy at the time with the T33/3 and F1 cars but Carlo was anxious for the project and thought he could have a car ready within a year. I flew home by way of London and bought a ready-to-go Cosworth Escort from Cosworth so I would have something to race in 1972. We entered that car in ten races and won every race in class with Bert Everett and John Buffum driving. In July of that year I brought Jody Scheckter over from South Africa to race the car at Watkins Glen.“
Earlier, Bob Cozza was in Milan, Italy, for business. He stopped to meet Carlo Chiti, head of Autodelta, both of them were the Autodelta representatives in the US. They were having one of their usual big lunch in Settimo Milanese, when they were met by Teodoro Zeccoli, who was driving an Alfa Romeo Montreal. Bob Cozza thought: “why not build an Alfa Romeo Montreal race car?” This is where the project was born and they started developing right from there. The development costs would be shared by Alfa Romeo SpA, Bobcor and Autodelta SpA. After a short development period the car was ready for racing and testing started at Alfa Romeo’s test track Balocco. Bert Everett flew over to Italy and joined Zeccoli during the testing of the car.
Development didn’t go easy. Bob Cozza later said: “In November of 1972 Carlo Chiti called me to say that I should come over as they were working on the Montreal. I went over right away and was disgusted at what I saw. The car was orange and it was suppose to be yellow. They did not understand IMSA rules and were building the car to FIA specifications. I told Chiti to stop and I would be back in January with my mechanic and we would stay and get the Montreal started in the correct manner. That mechanic was Oscar Feldman, an Italian Swiss from Bergamo who was one of my race mechanics on all three of my GTA’s. The GTA that Gaston Andrey drove was mine.“
For 1973, the car (No. 25, Bert Everett and Teodoro Zeccoli) was sent to the United States, and was to be entered for the 10th round of the International Makes’ Championship at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, a World Sportscar Championship event. Unfortunately, it was an early retirement as well, due to a gearbox failure. Bob Cozza: “So in January 1973 I went to Autodelta for one month with Oscar and we directed the building of the Montreal. I ended up staying for two months and Oscar one and then I brought to Italy Dennis Turpin, a Cosworth mechanic, to sort out the car. It was still orange at that time. In April I went back to Autodelta with Bert Everett and we all took the car to Balocco for testing. It was a modified 2.5L engine and the car was very slow. I was upset as was Everett. At that time I got to know an Autodelta test driver and racer known as Teodoro Zeccoli. He was of tremendous help and loved by Chiti and so through him I could get most anything done. He suggested the placing of the 3.3L Tipo 33 engine in the car. It was done and we tested again in June and except for the brakes we were happy. Chiti promised to finish the car and bring it with him to the Watkins Glen 6 Hour Race. He did…we qualified (Zeccoli) about 12 in class and the car blew an oil seal after two hours. The car went back to Autodelta for the rest of 1973.“
The car was extensively modified and in 1974 took part in several races and finished 27th in the 6 hour IMSA Championship round at Road Atlanta. The car was entered at Laguna Seca with driver Paul Nichter but again with poor results, finishing 35th and 41st respectively in the two heats. In fact, the car was no longer developed, as Alfa Romeo SpA had announced they were no longer funding the Montreal racing budget. As to worsen things, the main sponsor Kendall Oil was turning over to NASCAR racing and cut their support by a half. Even Goodyear was no longer willing to supply the team with tyres! In fact, the development costs would raise to $100 000 to go on and no sponsor would be willing to help. Bob Cozza; “We had used up our budget and had spent an additional $100,000. I told Alfa to keep the car. Chiti said that all future work would be at no charge because now he was eager to see the project through. We changed so many things I cannot remember, brakes, suspension, gearing, aluminium and plastic panels and we were happy with the results when we tested in Balocco in November. The car came back to the USA in March of 74 and we raced the first time at Atlanta. Qualified 8th I believe and was running good until Bert took her through the tulips and the injection jammed. We raced many times after, always qualifying but never finishing. Then at Laguna Seca Patrick Head tested the car for me when I rented the track and told me that he didn’t think the car would ever be any good because of the weight distribution to the front. In that race while running 8th after two hours the engine retired and that was the end of the Montreal. I never raced her again and then Alfa informed me that they would not put any more money into the project because they were terminating the sale of Montreals.”
That was the end of the story. The car would finish its short career as a show car. Bobcor stopped racing at that point and did not appear at any other IMSA event. The last international appearance would be a 6 Hours of Watkins Glen in 1975, with an Alfetta GT. There, Bert Everett and Franco Marino would last fifty laps for a DNF.
Before he died in March 2010, Bob Cozza summarized his Alfa Montreal days like this: “The car was super fast….we blew by Corvettes, Porsches, Mustangs, etc, in the straights but it couldn’t stop or corner as it should and the Type 33 engine or ZF box would always fail after two hours or so“.
In 1978, the Bobcor Racing Montreal was leased for one year to Jose Guttirez in Venezuela and returned as a wreck. While Bobcor were starting to rebuild it, the car was bought by Luis Cattenna, a gentleman with a private race track in El Salvador, and shipped there in pieces. It was then raced for two years as a Club Sport but caught fire in a hillclimb event in Mexico. The car was later owned by the late Jerry Galich and is now undergoing restoration by his son Victor Galich in Huntington Beach, California.
Alfa Romeo Montreal Bobcor races:
07.21.1973 Watkins Glen 6 hours – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp
07.28.1973 Road America Trans-Am – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp
04.21.1974 Road Atlanta 6 hours – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp
05.12.1974 Laguna Seca 1 – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp
05.19.1974 Ontario 4 hours – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp
07.13.1974 Watkins Glen 6 hours – Bobcor Performance Racing Corp