TEAM PENSKE’S SPORTS CAR PAST
PORSCHE 917/30, CAN-AM
0ne thousand, five hundred horsepower.
By ’73, Penske Racing had demonstrated
its expertise with production-based
muscle cars. It also made short work of
the Indy 500 and the 1,000hp Offys, but
a true prototype, sporting a 5.4-liter,
twin-turbo, flat- 12 engine that consumed
half the car was a genuine test of
aptitude. Six wins from eight Can-Am
races for Donohue earned the title with
more than double the points of George
Follmer in second. A closed-course speed
record in the car at Talladega – 221.1mph
– only added to the legend. The world’s
fastest, scariest racecar, tamed by Roger’s
team. From there, anything was possible.
PORSCHE RS SPYDER, ALMS LMP2
Don’t make the mistake of suggesting
Team Penske received turnkey cars from
Weissach that were readily capable of
winning the ALMS LMP2 category.
“Don’t get me wrong; they were great
cars and had a ton of potential,” says
Penske president Tim Cindric. “But at the
time the program got started, it had been
a while since Porsche went racing with a
fully staffed motorsports department. That
meant our guys took a bigger role to get
the first generation RS Spyder to where it
could win races. What came after, with the
updated car the following season, took
things to a whole new level. Once we got
to a point where we were racing for overall
wins against Audi and its [R10] diesels, we
knew we had something special.”
Penske’s trio of LMP2 titles closed the
last golden era for prototypes in dramatic
style. But what would come next?
CRAWFORD-PORSCHE, DAYTONA PROTOTYPE
Watch pro basketball players practice and
one habit will stand out: they refuse to walk
away from the court on a missed shot.
Penske’s odd 2009, spent in the
Grand-Am wilderness, was meant to be a
holdover year while Porsche conceived an
LMP1 for the team to run in ’ 10. It never
came. A winless season turned into nothing,
and a year on from the RS Spyder heights,
Team Penske left sports car racing on a low.
Had the team bowed out at the end of
2008 as ALMS LMP2 kings, it’s possible
Penske’s desire to find another sports car
program would have been lessened. Leaving
on a miss, however, ensured the search for a
new program – a correction to its sports car
legacy – continued. Welcome, ARX-05...
Penske’s Riley-Porsche Daytona Prototype
(ABOVE) earned three podiums, but zero
wins in its 2009 Grand-Am campaign.
Helio Castroneves (MAIN) teamed up
with Ryan Briscoe for the 2008 Petit
Le Mans in a Penske-run Porsche RS
Spyder, the pair heading a P2 1-2 for
the Captain. Will the three-time Indy
500 winner be part of Team Penske’s
2018 Acura lineup? Watch this space...
LESS THAN PENSKE PERFECT...
SPIDERMAN IN A SPYDER
(FAR LEFT) The 1968
Trans-Am included the
Daytona 24 Hours and
Sebring 12 Hours on
its schedule. At
Camaros finished 3-4
overall, and 1-2 in the
Trans-Am class, a
result which started an
eight-race win streak
for Mark Donohue.
(ABOVE LEFT) Team
Penske started out
with a Chevrolet
Corvette Stingray in
the inaugural Daytona
24 Hours in 1966. The
car didn’t finish looking
as pretty, but did win
the GT class. (LEFT)
Donohue in the mighty
1973 Can-Am Porsche
917/30 at Mid-Ohio –
the second of six
straight victories for
the awesome combo.