Hello, Allpar Forums member or visitor! If you were a member, you would not see this ad!

Register or log in at the top right of the page...

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

1973 - Donohue and Matador take Winston 500

Discussion in 'Historical' started by Fast Eddie, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes:
    1,304
    1973 Winston Western 500: Donohue Dominates
    By: MRN Staff on December 23, 2014 | 12:45 P.M. EST
    [​IMG]
    Donohue had his Penske-owned AMC Matador in the lead for 138 of the 191 laps. It took nearly five hours to run the race, with Donohue the only driver to complete every lap. (Photo: ISC Archives)
    Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on print More Sharing Services
    Print
    Email
    Share

    In January 1973, driver Mark Donohue and car owner Roger Penske kicked off NASCAR’s 25th season with a command performance in the Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway.
    Donohue humbled his 39 rivals and tamed the 2.62-mile Southern California road course, lapping the field for his first Cup Series win in just his fifth career start. Donohue had his Penske-owned AMC Matador in the lead for 138 of the 191 laps. It took nearly five hours to run the race, with Donohue the only driver to complete every lap.
    His racecar was equipped with four-wheel disc brakes.
    "It made the difference," Donohue said. "I could carry the car deeper in the corners and that's what it takes on a road course."
    After the race, Penske had high praise for his driver.
    "One of the reasons Mark is so good is that he can evaluate what we're doing on the drawing board," Penske said. "You might call him a built-in reliability factor. He's the most consistent driver in the business. He's not driving 102 percent - over his head. It's more like 98 percent. There's always something in reserve."
    Future Hall of Famer Bobby Allison finished second with Ray Elder, Bobby Unser and Jimmy Insolo completing the top five. Pole sitter David Pearson failed to lead a lap and completed less than half the race distance before retiring with clutch failure. He finished 22nd.
    Benny Parsons placed 14th to open what turned out to be a championship season. Despite winning just one race – in July at Bristol, Parsons had 20 other top 10s among his 28 starts. He topped runner-up Cale Yarborough by 67 points.
    Riverside would be the site of the season-opening race until 1982, when Daytona International Speedway took its place at the top of the schedule – where it remains today. Riverside was dropped from the NASCAR slate following the 1988 season.
     
    Mike V. likes this.
  2. dana44

    Ad-Free Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2002
    Messages:
    19,326
    Likes:
    1,238
    Well that is one cool story I have never heard of before. Thanks, appreciate that!
     
  3. JavelinAMX

    JavelinAMX Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,570
    Likes:
    1,876
    Penske/Donohue were quite the team. Great memory :)
     
  4. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    I hadn't quite gotten to the '73 Riverside Nascar season in the Nascar historical thread, but as long as Ed started this thread, here is the way that the "L.A. Times" reported the race. BTW, the late Shav Glick was a multi award winning motorsports reporter, for those not familiar with him.

    donoohueriversideartScan.jpg
    donohueriversideart1Scan.jpg donohueriversideart2Scan.jpg
     
    Mike V. and DC-93 like this.
  5. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    Here is how the race was reported in "Competition Press". The race report stretched over 5 pages and we tried to get as much as we could posted on this thread. Hope those that are interested can follow the story. Sorry they're so old and faded guys. They were up in the garage rafters for too many years.


    donohuecompressartScan.jpg donohuecompressart1Scan.jpg donohuecompressart2Scan.jpg donohuecompress3Scan.jpg donohuecompressart4Scan.jpg
     
    Mike V. and DC-93 like this.
  6. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes:
    802
    BTB - I, for one, appreciate your tremendous archives! Thank you! :cool:
     
  7. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes:
    1,304
    #16 Matador Mark Donohue (400x266).jpg Found a post card I had buried in my archives. Beautiful car indeed!
     
    JavelinAMX likes this.
  8. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes:
    802
    Good story about the front bumper being installed upside down for better aero. Inspectors though it looked 'funny' so looked around the parking lot for a production example. They found one! The team had changed the bumper on that one too! :cool:
     
  9. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    I guess the AMC race team support staff learned a valuable lesson from the disqualification of Smokey Yunick's 7/8 scale cheater Chevelle that qualified on the pole of the 1967 Daytona 500. The story goes that, although there was a long list of violations, the clincher for the Nascar inspectors was that, by sheer happenstance, somebody drove a street Chevelle into the pits and parked it near enough to Smokey's that it became readily apparent that his was only 7/8 scale in it's body dimensions :D.
     
  10. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    I always liked the styling of that model. It was pretty slick aero-wise too. The Penske team won several major Nascar races with it - most with Bobby Allison driving.
     
  11. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes:
    802
    Were the wins in the model with the smaller 1/4 windows? The pic above would catch a lot of air...
     
  12. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    Yes, most of them were with the "formal" roofline model with the smaller quarter window. Here is a publicity card photo of Penske and Bobby Allison from around the time they won the race @ Ontario in 1974;

    Penske Matador 1974.jpg

    Here is the Penske AMC Matador being driven @ Riverside in 1975 when Bobby Allison took the pole and then won the race;

    Allison@Riverside in Matador.jpg

    A few weeks later, Allison won one of the 125 mile qualifiers for the Daytona 5oo with this model Matador and then finished 2nd in the race.
     
    DC-93 likes this.
  13. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes:
    802
    I recall that car getting busted for having roller lifters in it. What race was that?
    Makes you wonder if they ran them before.
     
  14. LouJC

    LouJC Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2014
    Messages:
    520
    Likes:
    370
    We had an AMC/jeep dealer in my town while I was growing up.
    I recall thinking that the Matador was so distinctive at the time it should have sold well. Then that damn gas crisis came along...
     
    Beentherebefore likes this.
  15. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    I believe it was after they won the Ontario, CA race. Bobby Allison was flippant about it - something to the effect of "so what............everyone in Nascar cheats" and ol' Roger Penske was not happy about that. If I ever locate my Ontario stuff, I probably have the newspaper articles.
     
  16. DC-93

    DC-93 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes:
    802
    That rings a bell! There were many more gray areas back then. But it was specifically spelled out in the rule book, NO ROLLER LIFTERS.
     
  17. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes:
    1,304
    At Ontario, California, Allison won the final race of the season, only to have his car caught with illegal roller tappets, instead of the solid ones mandated by NASCAR. The roller tappets, which fit between the camshaft and pushrods have less friction than solid lifters and thus produce more horsepower.
    “He almost got away with it,” former NASCAR Winston Cup Director Dick Beaty said in a 1988 interview with NASCAR Winston Cup Scene’s Deb Williams. “I told one of the crewmen to hand me one of the tappets. At first, they pretended like they couldn’t get if off. I told him he was going to take it apart if we had to cut it. Finally, they got one out. The one he handed me was as cold as ice. He had a rag in his hand and it had a flat tappet in it. When he pulled the roller tappet out of the car, he kept it in his rag and handed me the flat one. Now, there’s no way a tappet that’s just come out of a car that’s run 500 miles is going to be cold. I grabbed the rag that was in his hand and sure enough, there was the roller tappet. If he had taken that [flat] tappet and heated it, he would have gotten away with it.”
     
    Beentherebefore and DC-93 like this.
  18. Beentherebefore

    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,254
    Likes:
    1,373
    Working off a 40 year old memory here, but IIRC, Penske was madder about Allison's comments than he was about the illegal motor itself, which was built by TRACO under AMC contract. There were reports that Allison would lose his job driving for the team but by the time the 1985 Nascar season began, he and Penske had obviously patched things up.
     
  19. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes:
    1,304
    Here is a picture of the Matador taken at the 1973 race mentioned above in the lead article. Amazing what you can find in your stash of stuff if you look hard enough. Matador at Riverside 1973.jpg
     
  20. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Valued Member
    Level III Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes:
    1,304
    The car above had four wheel disc brakes while the other cars didn't.
     

Share This Page

Loading...