PRI Show 2016: The Penske-Donhue “Lightweight” Sunoco Camaro Is On The Show Floor

PRI Show 2016: The Penske-Donhue “Lightweight” Sunoco Camaro Is On The Show Floor

If the pro touring world was inspired by the awesome Trans-Am race cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, this one may be the godfather of them all. The famed Sunoco Camaro that was owned by Roger Penske and driven by the masterful Mark Donohue was a terror on the course in the 1967 and 1968 Trans-Am seasons. It was also an acid dipped, cheated up piece that was 250lbs lighter than most of the other Camaros it was competing against. Frankly, we’re in love with the whole story.

Roger Penske is a guy who has historically never missed a trick. He’s also a guy who has stared people down and never blinked and such is the case with this famous (and in some circles infamous) Camaro. Understanding that SCCA officials never weighed cars until after races were finished, he and Donohue were less than surprised when they hit the scales and their acid dipped Camaro came in very, very light. When race officials threatened to pull the win from the team, Penske let them know that they might never see another Chevrolet at their races again if that happened.

Rules changes mandated pre-race weigh ins for competitors in 1968 and the Penske operation was told in no uncertain terms to never bring that car back to a race. They were not planning on it until reliability issues reared their head early in the 1968 season. Thinking that having two cars for the Sebring 12 Hour race would be a good idea, they swapped the ’67 into a ’68 with the necessary exterior changes. They went to Sebring with the car, still very light and another Camaro that was pained the same color and happened to conform to the rules.

The legal car went through tech with the number 15 on it. It then went through tech with the number 16 on it. When the green flag fell, both cars were on the grid. The lightweight machine won its class and came in third overall at the event.

More significantly, it went on to win 10 of the 13 Trans Am races in the 1968 season.

This one truly was their Unfair Advantage. “The lightweight” is one bad hombre.

Check out these photos of the famed Penske-Donohue Sunoco Camaro

donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-1  donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-4 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-3 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-2 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-9 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-8 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-7 donohue-lightweight-1967-camaro-6

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3 thoughts on “PRI Show 2016: The Penske-Donhue “Lightweight” Sunoco Camaro Is On The Show Floor

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    Things would have been a lot better if Roger hadn’t leant on the corner of the roof just as a tech crew were walking past the car. His elbow nearly went through the thin layer of “metal” and the rest as they say is history……

  2. Brash

    I have Donahue’s book “The Unfair Advantage” and it tells a lot of cool stories like this one. He and Penske were way ahead of anyone else back in those days.

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