Trans Am retrospective: Donohue dominates north of the border

Image via Trans Am

Trans Am retrospective: Donohue dominates north of the border

Trans Am

Trans Am retrospective: Donohue dominates north of the border

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Canada’s Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant was a regular mid-summer stop for the Trans Am Presented by Pirelli during the series’ Golden Years. The opening four races at the Mont-Tremblant resort near St. Jovite, Quebec, annually showcased the talents of Roger Penske’s Mark Donohue, who tamed the 2.65-mile course on July 21, 1968, before opening the month of August with victories in three successive years.

Donohue lapped the entire field during his first visit, his navy blue No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro (photo above) pulling away from the AMC Javelin of George Follmer.

A yer later, on August 3, 1969, Ford entered the three-hour race with a six-point lead in the all-important manufacturer championship. However, the race turned into a disaster for the Bud Moore Ford Mustangs.

Follmer won the pole with a lap of 1:45 in a factory Mustang, but the team’s hopes were hurt when Parnelli Jones parked his Mustang after nine laps.

Up front, Follmer and Donohue were running nose-to-tail. Suddenly, on the 14th lap, the Ford’s engine let go. Follmer spun in his oil and slammed into the guardrail, just past a blind corner. He bounced back into traffic, triggering a melee that eliminated 14 cars, including teammates Peter Revson and Horst Kwech. The incident brought out the first red flag in Trans Am history.

Donohue went on to win, finishing 85 seconds ahead of Jerry Titus (Pontiac Firebird), Ed Leslie (Camaro) and Lothar Motschenbacher (Javelin). Peter Gregg won his class with an eighth-place finish in a Porsche 911. Chevrolet regained its championship momentum, going on to capture its second-straight title.

In 1970, Parnelli Jones came to St. Jovite with the hot hand for the Aug. 2 event, having notched three victories in his Bud Moore Mustang. At mid-season, Donohue had only two wins in his Penske Javelin, including the most recent event at Road America, which allowed American Motors to close in on Ford in the manufacturer championship.

Ford entered a third Bud Moore Mustang for St. Jovite, for three-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. That car, however, handled like a “yellow school bus” and Jones sidelined it when he crashed in practice trying to help set it up.

Nevertheless, Jones won the pole in his regular Mustang, and was joined by Donohue on the front row. The field also including Vic Elford, replacing Jim Hall in the factory Chevrolet Chaparral Camaro.

Jones and teammate George Follmer took turns leading early in the 70-lap race before Donohue caught them both, passed both and went on to win by one minute over Follmer, with Jones finihing third, one lap down. Sam Posey placed fourth in a Dodge Challenger, followed by Peter Revson in the second Penske Javelin.

Aug. 1, 1971, saw Donohue win the Player’s Quebec Trans Am, his fifth victory in seven starts that season. Donohue’s Javelin beat the Bud Moore Mustang of George Follmer by 63 seconds, with Peter Gregg third in the second factory Mustang. Peter Revson took fourth in the ARA Javelin, one lap down, followed by the Mustangs of Warren Tope and Jerry Thompson.

Trans Am made only two additional trips to the picturesque circuit, in 1977 (won by Peter Gregg in a Porsche) and 1978 (Monte Sheldon, also in a Porsche). Bob Tullius (Jaguar XJ-S) took Category I top honors in both events.

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