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After Rolex 24
Prototype Drivers
Pos Drivers Total
1 Scott Dixon 36
1 Tony Kanaan 36
1 Kyle Larson 36
1 Jamie McMurray 36
2 Joao Barbosa 33
2 Sebastien Bourdais 33
2 Christian Fittipaldi 33
3 Guy Cosmo 31
3 Mike Rockenfeller 31
3 Michael Valiante 31
3 Richard Westbrook 31
4 Dane Cameron 29
4 Eric Curran 29
4 Phil Keen 29
4 Max Papis 29
5 AJ Allmendinger 27
5 Matt McMurry 27
5 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 27
5 John Pew 27
6 Joey Hand 26
6 Sage Karam 26
6 Charlie Kimball 26
6 Scott Pruett 26
7 David Cheng 25
7 Robert Gewirtz 25
7 Mark Kvamme 25
7 Shane Lewis 25
8 Byron DeFoor 24
8 David Hinton 24
8 Jim Pace 24
8 Dorsey Schroeder 24
8 Doug Smith 24
9 Rubens Barrichello 23
9 Tor Graves 23
9 Brendon Hartley 23
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay 23
9 Scott Mayer 23
10 Ryan Dalziel 22
10 David Heinemeier Hansson 22
10 Scott Sharp 22
11 Ben Devlin 21
11 Tom Long 21
11 Joel Miller 21
12 Jonathan Bomarito 20
12 James Hinchcliffe 20
12 Tristan Nunez 20
12 Sylvain Tremblay 20
13 Alex Brundle 19
13 Nic Jonsson 19
13 Tracy Krohn 19
13 Olivier Pla 19
14 Ed Brown 18
14 Jon Fogarty 18
14 Johannes van Overbeek 18
15 Gabby Chaves 17
15 Katherine Legge 17
15 Andy Meyrick 17
15 Memo Rojas 17
16 Max Angelelli 16
16 Jordan Taylor 16 Ricky Taylor 16

1 #02 Chip Ganassi Racing 36
2 #5 Action Express Racing 33
3 #90 Racing 31
4 #31 Action Express Racing 29
5 #60 Michael Shank Racing 27
6 #01 Chip Ganassi Racing 26
7 #66 RG Racing 25
8 #50 Highway To Help Race Team 24
9 #7 Starworks Motorsport 23
10 #1 Tequila Patrón ESM 22
11 #07 SpeedSource 21
12 #70 SpeedSource 20
13 #57 Krohn Racing 19
14 #2 Tequila Patron ESM 18
15 #0 DeltaWing Racing 17
16 #10 Wayne Taylor Racing 16

1 Ford 35
2 Chevrolet 32
3 Honda 30
4 BMW 28
5 Mazda 26
L&M Porsche: Untold Story of Can Am's Famous Car

by Stephen Cox - Part 3 of 7, The Replacement
Monday, June 23, 2014


Rear of the L&M Porsche

"We drove by the seat of our pants. We had to muscle the car around the track. We did not have cool suits." - George Follmer

George Follmer arrived in Atlanta early Friday morning in a rented Ford Crown Victoria.

"I didn't know him from Adam," said chief mechanic Woody Woodard. "But I'd certainly heard his name. He was a good guy."

Marilyn Motschenbacher Halder, then married to McLaren driver Lothar Motschenbacher, recalled Follmer's arrival at the track. "Everybody loved George. He would always wander around the track when he wasn't working with the guys on the car. He always looked good; he was so nice and always had a smile. He was a jokester. He was fun, but a dedicated driver."

A lot of people had already heard George Follmer's name. He had driven from the back of the grid to 15th place at the 1971 Indianapolis 500-mile race and would've placed higher had all his pistons functioned properly for the final 50 laps. He had already posted an IndyCar victory at Phoenix and had just wrapped up a Trans-Am title days before. His talents would eventually take him to the pinnacle of American road racing and then to Europe in Formula 1.

George Follmer won many a race with the L&M Porsche after Donahue was injured
But on July 7, 1972 George Follmer stood along pit lane at Road Atlanta, clueless and hopelessly lost.

After Donohue's crash early in the week, Roger Penske wasted no time finding someone on whom he knew he could rely. Follmer got a mid-week call from the man who is still known today as "The Captain."

I had driven for Penske before in 1967. The Captain called me and asked me if I'd come down and replace Mark at Road Atlanta, and I said, "Well" sure!"

When The Captain calls, you go.

That was about all Follmer knew when he hung up the telephone. He had never before seen a Porsche 917/10 racecar, let alone driven one at the highest level of competition. He had never before driven Road Atlanta. He hadn't even seen the track. The facility was so new that the paint was barely dry.

"I got there," Follmer recalled, "and Mark was there on crutches and told me a little bit about it. He couldn't tell me very much. He said, "You know, it's got some [turbo] lag,' which I expected because I'd run Indycars. "It's got pretty good brakes, so go out and have fun. If you're a pro, you'd better figure it out.'"

Donohue's pain went deeper than his badly injured legs. Although he tried to remain professional and upbeat, he was being forced to watch from a hospital bed while his season, his ride, his championship and part of his legacy slipped away.

Follmer was gracious and knew what Donohue was going through. "You've got to remember that it was Mark's car. He developed it, he tested it and he helped engineer it. It was his car," Follmer said.

Woodard saw the same signs in Donohue's eyes. "Mark did his due diligence and told George everything he could. If there was anybody who was unhappy it was Mark. It was his car. He'd gotten hurt and couldn't race it, and now here's one of his competitors coming in to drive his car" and winning. I think Mark struggled with that all year."

A group of fans at Road Atlanta that weekend posted a huge wooden sign in front of their green Chevy van in the infield area that said, "Get well Mark."But Donohue never saw it. He returned to the hospital while the usual social festivities continued at the racetrack.

Although Can Am was one of the highest forms of road racing in North America, it still had a club-like atmosphere to the participants. Every track had its own personality. The drivers had favorite restaurants in each town. They all stayed at the same motel at every race.

Their social circle was small and intimate. Marilyn Motschenbacher Halder spent much of her time at a the universally recognized social center of Can Am's inner circle known as "Spanky's trailer."

"I don't even remember Spanky's last name. I don't think anybody ever knew it," Marilyn said. "It was one of those old Winnebagos. There would be Denny [Hulme], George [Follmer], Revvie [Pete Revson], and the photographers, and Lothar and me, and the wives. Jackie Oliver would be there. We'd always gather at Spanky's trailer and everybody would sit there and laugh and shop talk. They'd say, "You should have seen me in this turn!' and just bench race."

Away from the social scene, one of the more immediate business concerns on pit road was getting Follmer fitted into the seat of the L&M Porsche.

But climbing into the cockpit of the 917/10 was an acrobatic endeavor that required Olympic-level gymnastic skills. The bodywork was so thin that no weight could be placed on it. Instead the aspiring driver was to make one giant step across the fuel tanks and into the cockpit while avoiding the instruments, gear shifter, tachometer, and everything else.

Success eluded Follmer on his first try. "When you got in, you had to step on the bar," Follmer recalled. "It was a tube frame. The floorboard - or what we called a floorboard - was just a piece of fiberglass and it was put up there with tie-wraps. So all you had to do was cut the tie-wraps and pull the fiberglass down to work on the car."

There was a piece of tape that marked the only available spot where a driver could safely place his foot on entry. George missed it by a mile.

He stepped into the cockpit and placed his feet on the floorboard where they promptly poked through the fiberglass and went straight through to the ground. It was an inauspicious debut that inspired little confidence.

While a new floorboard was being installed on Saturday morning, Follmer got his first chance to see the racetrack. Road Atlanta had a full schedule of activity and qualifications that day so special arrangements were made to open the track at 6 am and allow Follmer a few familiarization laps" in his rental car.

"I took my rental car – it was a Crown Vic – and drove around the racetrack," Follmer said. He was accompanied by a team engineer who pointed out how the car might theoretically react at different points along the course.

"That's how I learned the track," Follmer understated.

"It was a pretty steep learning curve."

He then switched from a Crown Vic to the L&M Porsche and began practicing. By the end of the final session he had posted a lap time of 1:14.163, less than one-tenth of a second slower than Denny Hulme's Gulf McLaren.

Hulme would win the pole position with Follmer's L&M Porsche on the outside of the front row. It was an impressive performance from a guy who didn't know how to step into the cockpit 24 hours before. Pete Revson qualified inside Row 2 in McLaren's second entry, but neither M20 would survive the opening laps of the race.

Follmer took the early lead and built a slight advantage over Hulme, while Revson struggled with ignition problems and dropped back quickly.

On the fifth lap, Hulme lost control of his M20 at nearly 180 miles per hour along the back straightaway just a few yards from where Donohue's crash had occurred nearly a week before. A newspaper article described the carnage:

The wedge nose of the McLaren got air under it, lifted up, and, like a hydroplane run amok, flipped straight over backwards" there is a flash of orange, something heavy slamming to earth, a spray of red clay. It's Denny, upside down.

People cluster to the wreckage, heave it over onto its belly, and fire blooms. It's out quickly in a cloud of white powder, and they bend over the driver. He's moving, just coming around. He doesn't seem to know where he is or to recognize his teammate, but in response to direction he can wiggle his toes.

It's all right then, they can pull him out and pack him off to the track hospital.

Hulme escaped with no serious injuries, but his pumpkin-orange and black McLaren M20 was a total loss after cartwheeling for more than a hundred yards. His teammate fared little better. Revson continued to have ignition problems and his race was over in less than 20 laps. McLaren was done.

Follmer was dominant in the L&M Porsche. Now alone at the front of the field, he was getting faster as he learned the track. Greg Young, holding down second place in an outdated McLaren M8F, had no chance. Follmer lapped the entire field and cruised to victory.

Porsche was ecstatic. This was the win they'd hoped for at Mosport. Now, with their confidence soaring, they were ready to spring their new American road racing venture in the German press.

Penske Racing was overjoyed, as were the sponsors and fans. The only person who really didn't know what to think was George Follmer.

"I didn't have any expectations one way or the other because I didn't know," Follmer remembered. "I hadn't driven the car, hadn't raced the car, didn't know the track and I was coming into a series that had some pretty qualified drivers in it. So I didn't have a lot of expectations."

"I was there to do the best I could."

Stephen Cox
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN
Boschett Timepieces/Acorn Cabinetry #22

Stephen Cox
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN
Boschett Timepieces/Acorn Cabinetry #22

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