Monday, October 14, 2019

RETRO: Penske Surprise's 50yrs Ago at Daytona

The winning No. 6 Sunoco Penske Racing Lola T70. (Image source:
Ironically Outlasting both Porsche and Ford, both Marques He'd Campaign in later years...

Any Hardcore IndyCar aficionado will know that El Capitano', nee Roger Penske, at the youthful age of 32, entered his then Penske Racing in its Debutante Indianapolis 500 a Half Century ago.

With Penske's lead Driver Mark Donohue behind the wheel of Penske's customer Four Wheel-drive Lola T-152 Offy', (Offenhauser) which I've previously chronicled in another long ago No Fenders tome.

Yet this No Fenders story is cleverly tied to Penske's meandering sports Cars forays the past half century, with Roger having just eclipsed his 200th Start. For which "The Captain's" brace 'O Acura Daytona Prototypes are a long ways from his earlier machinery.

Since I typically forget that Penske Racing won its lone 24 Hours of Daytona event 50 years ago this past January. In what is claimed to have been a surprise victory, back when the Drivers were "He-Men!" With just two Drivers going the distance.

As Donohue with Co-Driver Chuck Parsons, presumably a fairly unknown racer, albeit Diehard Sports Cars Fanatics will know that Parsons won the 1966 U.S. Road Racing Championship. (USRRC)

As Parsons was substituting for the injured Ronnie Buckhum, originally slated to partner with Donohue at Daytona...

As the duo won aboard a Lola T70 Mk IIIB Coupe propelled by the ubiquitous Chevrolet 5-litre Small Block V-8, followed home by another Lola T70-Chevrolet, giving Lola a 1-2 victory.

Ironically the runner-up Lola racing under the American International Racing (AIR) Banner, was the short-lived Race Team owned by some 'Ol Hollywood Actor named James Garner!

Whilst 'Ol Jimmy Rockford would go onto pilot the Celebratory Indy 500 Pace Car at Mother Speedway three times, if I remember correctly...

Alas, when I think of Roger Penske Racing; Err Team Penske's various sports Cars ventures, I immediately think of a few of my favourite racing cars.

With those iconic Porsche RS Spyders which Decimated the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) springing to mind. Although Sadly, when American Sports Car racing was Split between two rival Sanctioning Bodies, nee ALMS vs. Grand Am. Keeping them from contesting the Rolex 24.

Along with my Numero Uno Prancing Horse, the Uber Nasty Sunoco Ferrari 512M which Mark Donohue co-drove with some Bloke fondly known here in Nofendersville as 'Ol Hobbo', nee HobbsCap', aka David Hobbs in the early 1970's.

As Gory Hell! Can it already be a Decade since Mark's son David Donohue & Company, including Buddy Hot Rod' Rice won the Rolex 24 in a Brumos Racing Riley/Porsche Daytona Prototype on the 40th Anniversary of Penske's lone 24hrs win at Daytona International Speedway, Eh?

Not to mention that Penske & Donohue were Kickin' Arse in Thar Narly Chevy Camaro Zed-28's during the 1969 SCCA Trans Am Series season!