Saturday afternoon, shortly after the checkered flag falls at Indianapolis, car owners Roger Penske and Parnelli Jones, along with drivers Mark Donohue, Peter Revson, George Follmer, and Dan Gurney, will board Roger Penske's Lear jet, and fly to an airport near Concord. New Hampshire. The next day they will be racing Mustangs, Javelins, and 'Cudas in the third race in this year's SCAA Trans Am series for small sedans.
Trans Am racing has undergone tremendous growth in the past few years. This year some of the top drivers in the country are competing on factory backed teams. Roger Penske, whose Chevrolet Camaros won the series champion ship the past two years, signed a contract for several million dollars with American Motors to campaign their Javelin for the next three years in Trans Am racing, Penske, a retired driver in his early thirties again has Mark Donohue in the cockpit of one of his cars. This year he also has a car for Cornell graduate Peter Revson.
Jim Hall, who graduated from Cal Tech, operates out of Midland, Texas, and is best known for his fiberglass chassis Chaparal Group 7 sports cars. He has always had close relations with Chevrolet despite the company's official non-racing stand. This year Hall replaces Penske as the official non-official Chevrolet factory team. Hall is making his return to driving following a serious crash at Las Vegas in November of 1968. He is teamed with Californian Ed Leslie, who is doing the best racing of his career at the age of 48. Jerry Thompson and Tony DeLorenzo are also running Chevrolet Camaros, with sponsorship from the Owens-Corning Fiberglass people. They have not been as fast to date as Hall's cars.
Dan Gurney, a long time Ford driver, signed a contract to drive Plymouth's new 'Cuda this year. Gurney's company. All-American Racers, has two cars, one for Gurney, and another for his young protege, Swede Savage. With a name like Swede Savage, you have to be good or you wouldn't be able to show your ??ace around a race track. Dodge's Challenger, basically the same as the 'Cuda, is being campaigned by the Autodynamics Corporation, from Marblehead. Sam Posey, one of the new stars on the U.S. racing scene, is the driver.
The Pontiac Firebird, sister to the Camaro, is being run by Jerry Titus, a former auto magazine editor and amateur racer, whih turned professional in his early forties. Titus is a very quick driver, and a talented team manager, but his effort has not had the same degree of factory backing that some of the other teams have.
Parnelli Jones is 35, and married to a beautiful young thing who goes to races with him. He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1963, and he owns the car that Al Unser put on the pole this year. He is a fairly wealthy man now, and he races only when and where he wants to. Jones is still probably one of the ten fastest drivers in the world, despite his partial retirement. The only driving he still does is the NASCAR road race at Riverside in January, and the Trans Am series for Bud Moore's Ford Mustang team. He is very fast in the school bus yellow racer, and has won the first two Trans Am races this year. Not that Jones won without opposition. Donohue ran on his tail at the series opener at Laguna Seca, and Jones' Mustang, Donohue's Javelin, and Leslie's Camaro ran together like a string of boxcars at the May 9th Lime Rock race.
This year the cars have been very evenly matched, and Sunday's race should be as close as the previous two. Bryar is a scenic 1.3 mile course located between Concord and Loudon, New Hampshire. The track is on the right side of the road that runs between the two towns. There are a number of good vantage points, and most of the course can be seen from the bleachers opposite the start-finish line. Qualifications start at about 9 a.m. Sunday morning, and the race for small European cars starts at noon. At 2:30 p.m. the main event will be flagged off. Bring your own refreshments since the track's food will be over-priced and indigestible. It's a chance to get out of Boston, see a great automobile race, have a picnic, and get some sun.