Mark Donohue was
one of the finest
test drivers of all
time. His degree in
engineering and his
superb innate feel
Can-Am versions of
the Porsche 917.
Endless work at
Porsche’s test track
and skid pan in
Weissach and across
the U.S. made the
917/30 more docile
than any 1,100hp
car has a right to be.
of fuel, and a more elegant and effective
nose and tail than its predecessor, this
1,100hp rocket was virtually unstoppable
in terms of pure pace, giving Donohue
pole position for all eight races.
He was knocked off the track by a
backmarker in Round 1 and, with all races
thereafter divided into two heats, he was
hampered by a fuel leak in heat two of
Round 2 at Road Atlanta and could only
finish second… After that, the Donohue/
Porsche/Penske combo was untouchable.
Reigning champion Follmer, still in a
917/10K, finished runner-up in the final
’ 73 points, yet didn’t even achieve half
the total of his erstwhile teammate.
Some moan that the Penske-run turbo
Porsches killed Can-Am. And in light of
McLaren’s exit at the end of ’ 72, the
917/30 does seem the proverbial hammer
to crack a nut. But what a hammer it was.
A brutally effective
spyder, the 917/30
(MAIN), was spawned
from a beautifully
elegant coupe (FAR
LEF T), the 917 of
Le Mans legend.
917/30, followed by
Follmer’s 917 /10K
and then...the rest.
That’s pretty much
Can-Am’s ’ 73 season
summarized in a pic.
At race boost (1.3 bar) the 917/30’s 5.4-liter
engine produced 810lb-ft of torque at 6,400rpm
and 1,100hp at 7,800rpm. Unfettered on the
dyno, it had proven capable of exceeding...
POWER WITHOUT END
In 1975, Donohue set the world closed-course
speed record in the 917/30, lapping Talladega
at 221.120mph. Less well known is that he
was hitting 250mph down the straights…
There were 17 races
across the 1972 and
’ 73 Can-Am seasons.
won just three of them.