Even in its early years, Penske Racing was competing
on multiple fronts. In the late 1960s and early ’70s,
it ran its Indy car program in parallel with World
Sportscar Championship outings (ABOVE, the Ferrari
512M that finished third in the 1971 Daytona 24
Hours), Trans-Am, Can-Am, F5000 and NASCAR.
BUILT FOR MULTI-TASKING
“A sledgehammer to crack a nut? Far
from it. This was a sledgehammer to
crack other sledgehammers”
JUST A FEW HIGHLIGHTS...
Roger Penske’s transition from driver
(BELOW, in the Zerex Special, Riverside,
1962) into team owner was the catalyst
for countless successes. Here are a few...
Penske enters AMC Javelins in
Trans-Am for for Mark Donohue and
Peter Revson in 1970. Donohue takes
the ’ 71 title (his third for Penske)
with seven wins from 10 races.
1972 First Indy 500 win
In only its fourth Indianapolis 500, Penske
Racing earns its first win. Fittingly, long-time
Penske ally Mark Donohue is the winning
driver in a Sunoco-backed McLaren-Offy.
HOW MUCH POWER?!
enske’s legendary Porsche 917/30
“Turbo Panzer” didn’t merely dominate
Can-Am in 1973. It crushed souls.
When pre-season testing at Paul Ricard,
France, produced disappointing speed-trap
figures, Penske’s fabled driver/engineer Mark
Donohue convinced Porsche to fabricate a
Le Mans-style long tail. Suddenly the 917/30
came alive, its speed on the Mistral straight
leaping from 212 to 240mph. Under the
cowling, the previous five-liter, flat- 12
powerplant had bulked up into a twin-turbo,
5.4-liter that was good for 1,100bhp on
the track, and 1,500bhp on the dyno.
A sledgehammer to crack a nut? Far
from it. Pitted against a cluster of
well-funded 917/10s driven by the likes of
reigning champion George Follmer and
young upstart Jody Scheckter, this was a
sledgehammer built to crack other
sledgehammers. And it did. After a slightly
rocky start, Donohue and the Penske
Porsche rallied to dominate the rest of the
season with a six-round win streak.
Donohue announced an ultimately
short-lived retirement immediately upon
securing the title at Riverside, while the
917/30 had retirement thrust upon it by
the SCCA’s new fuel mileage regulations
for the 1974 season, which effectively
eliminated the gas-guzzling turbos in one
stroke. Can-Am was never the same.
Images LAT, NASCAR, IMS
Illustrations Paul Laguette
Can-Am’s Group 7
rules provided a
framework for some
of the most powerful
racecars ever built,
with the Penske
917/30 of 1973 its
In ’ 75, Mark Donohue
drove the same car
to set a world
record of 221.120mph
at Talladega, Ala.,
hitting 250mph on
the back straight...
Can-Am reached its highest watermark with Penske’s Porsche 917/30.