The Year Was 1975: Mark Donohue Sets a Closed-Course Record in the Penske Porsche 917/30

Mark Donohue, Penske Racing and Porsche dominated the 1973 Can-Am season with the all-conquering 917/30. No one else could touch this 1000-plus-horsepower missile. 

New rules rendered the 917/30 uncompetitive for 1974, so it was parked. The series collapsed before the end of the season. Game over. 

How to give the car one last hurrah? How about an attempt at the closed course land speed record? The iconic Porsche traded its traditional blue Sunoco colors for the red of Cam 2, an oil company created by Sun Oil Co., General Motors and Roger Penske, before heading to Talladega on August 9, 1975, for the record attempt. 

Donohue averaged 221.160 mph around the circuit, setting a world record that would stand for four years. And not even two weeks later, sadly, Donohue was dead, succumbing to injuries sustained during practice for the Austrian Gran Prix.

 

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