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OT: Thrill of a lifetime - ride in Can-Am car!

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Old 09-09-2003, 11:03 PM
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That is sweet Chuck!!

Wow....what an honor, talk about some history. Killer stuff man, congrats and thanks for sharing.

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Old 09-09-2003, 11:48 PM
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C Spray- You are one lucky SOB

I have a copy of Mark Donahues' Biography- "The Unfair Advantage". I'm going from memory here, but can dig the book out of needed.

AMC made a Mark Donohue special edition Javelin, and MD got one for his father or mother. They lived in a small town, and I seem to remember some very funny comments were made about him having his very own fancy car "Personalized". It was a signature edition.....with his signature.....

He also talked about some engine block castings that were acid dipped before being put on the production line at Chevrolet for machining. They were painted purple as I recall, to let the factory guys know they were special. The factory shift changed, and nobody passed the word. Anybody got an old Chevy wagon with a purple motor??????

They also acid dipped body panels for a Trans-Am race Camaro, which he severely wiped out before one practice lap was completed.

Mark Donohue was not only a great driver, but he also had a natural engineering talent, and from all accounts was one of the nicest gentlemen to ever drive a race car.

I wouldn't mind a ride in a Mclaren M-8F or Porsche 917-30.......

Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Old 09-10-2003, 06:45 AM
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AMC did build a Mark Donohue edition Javelin AMX.
I remember the tall rear spoiler with his signiture on the right corner.

Didin't he drive for Penske back then?

I remeber the acid dipped bodys. The story I read said that they had two identical Camaros built, one "legal" weight and the other was the "flyweight" car. They would send the legal car through tech inspection and then somehow switch to the lighter one just before the race.
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Old 09-10-2003, 07:03 AM
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Jeez...you got a real taste of history there. There are many people that would have given anything for that ride in his car. Way to go
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Old 09-10-2003, 07:14 AM
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Thanks for sharing the pics Chuck. That is awesome!!!
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Old 09-10-2003, 08:19 AM
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Allan4 - Yes, it was a great feeling. The hair on my arms was standing straight up as I got into the car. Pretty cool experience having a 500hp small block fire up 6" behind your head, snapping and popping back through the carburetors at low revs.

Bulldog - The fenders that were wiped out were actually stamped from lighter-weight steel at enormous cost (Chevy had to shut down the stamping line). After the crash, they were replaced by a set that had been lightened by acid-dipping. This was cheaper and easier to do.

917-30: I got to sit in that car at Lime Rock in 2001. OOhhh, baby - 1800 pounds / 1200 hp / 20" wide rear wheels. You do the math. I saw it run at Mid-Ohio in 1973 (Donohue) and in 1974 (a one-off appearance with Brian Redman driving), and then saw Roger Penske himself drive the very same car at Lime Rock in 2001. Neat.

Iggy - The infamous "lightweight" Camaro was built late in the 1967 season, and was so effective that Mark lapped the field at the last race and was subsequently weighed by the officials. (Believe it or not, the SCCA did NOT normally weigh cars in tech inspections!) The car came in 250 (!!!) pounds underweight, and the officials threatened to disqualify the win. Roger Penske "suggested" that this would upset Chevrolet so much that they would withdraw from the Trans-Am for the 1968 season, so the the SCCA backed down, but said "Don't ever bring that car back to a race again". Penske sold the car to Terry Godsall, but then needed another car for the Sebring race in 1968. Penske borrowed the car back, fitted it with 1968 grilles, lights, etc. and painted it to be identical to the regular (legal) 1968 car. They then sent the the legal car through tech, took it back to their garage, changed the numbers, and sent it through tech again as the "other" car. This worked so well that they then used the lightweight car to qualify both drivers by swapping numbers during qualifying. (This, by the way, is the only story I know of where Penske actually cheated intentionally.) All of this was confirmed by the guys who should know (the actual crew guys of the era) while I was at the Glen last week. This car was at the Glen, and runs in its 1968 Sebring trim as "15" in vintage races. And it wins. A lot.

Here's the whole story.

Iggy - Mark drove exclusively for Penske Racing from 1966 until his death in 1975.

Business end of the aforementioned 917-30. The tires are actually much wider than they look:
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Old 09-10-2003, 08:28 AM
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Crew members of the era (left to right):
Chuck Cantwell (Team Manager), Jerry Kroninger (Sunoco rep), Karl Kainhofer (Crew Chief USRRC, Formula One and Indy), Bill Preston (Sunoco rep); Don Cox (with microphone) (Engineer and developer of the infamous "vacuum-cleaner Chaparral), John "Woody" Woodard (Crew Chief Trans-Am, Can-Am, and Sport Cars), Earle MacMullan (mechanic) and Sue Donohue (Mark's first wife and mother of his two sons):
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Old 09-10-2003, 08:30 AM
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Sue Donohue with sons David (left) and Michael (right). David's resemblence to Mark is almost frightening.
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Old 09-10-2003, 08:49 AM
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Chuck, I wasn't all that big a Canam fan in those days, but in the late 60's we (Holman/Moody) had Andretti's car in the hangar. #29, "Holman/Moody Honker" with a 494 DOHC Ford. Couldn't keep halfshafts in it. Why the small block in yours?

We also had the 1,2,3 Mk40 J Fords from Daytona and Le Mans. Believe it or not, we sold them running and street legal for 24 grand apiece. One was just resold for a Million Bucks. ****!
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Old 09-10-2003, 09:07 AM
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Brownie - The car I rode in was a 1966/67 car. At that point, the "new" big-block had not been sorted out well enough to road-race. Later, they finally discovered that it tended to collect oil in the valve covers under high lateral G's, which was solved by fitting oil scavenge pump fittings to the cylinder heads. THEN (1968) things got a little crazy in the HP department....

The yellow Mk IV in the pictures is street-legal and flawless. It is also certified as being the Donohue/McLaren 4th place LeMans car from 1967. Care to estimate a value? Note the directional "fan" wheels....
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