Porsche 917/30

Australian Muscle Car - - Can-Am -

The

car that fi­nally stopped the McLaren jug­ger­naut in Can-Am came from Ger­many via the work­shop of a cer­tain Roger Penske. The Porsche 917/10 took the ti­tle in 1972 with 1970 Trans-Am champ Ge­orge Follmer at the wheel, af­ter team­mate Mark Dono­hue had been side­lined through in­jury. The fol­low­ing sea­son the up­dated 917/30 de­buted with a larger 5.4-litre flat 12 twin-tur­bocharged en­gine ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing in ex­cess of 1100 horse­power, with two cars bound for Penske and an­other for the Euro­pean equiv­a­lent, the In­ter­serie. Hav­ing worked closely with the Porsche fac­tory in the off sea­son with his own bril­liant en­gi­neer­ing in­put Dono­hue went on to de­mol­ish the com­pe­ti­tion and cap­ture back to back ti­tles for Penske. Back in Ger­many work on three new chas­sis com­menced for use in the forth­com­ing 1974 sea­son, but then abruptly halted when the Sports Car Club of Amer­ica changed the fuel use reg­u­la­tions, ef­fec­tively killing off the un­lim­ited power out­puts and even­tu­ally has­ten­ing the demise of Can-Am it­self. In 1979 Florida Porsche dealer and col­lec­tor Gerry Sut­ter­field stum­bled across the three partly com­pleted chas­sis dur­ing a visit to the fac­tory and hatched a plan. Porsche them­selves com­pleted the build on chas­sis 005 util­is­ing an orig­i­nal spec en­gine found in stor­age and sus­pen­sion from the then cur­rent 936 Le Mans racer which em­ployed sus­pen­sion based on the 917/30 to be­gin with. The car took pride of place in Sut­ter­fields show­room for a few Lola T163 years un­til pass­ing through col­lec­tions in Swe­den, Ja­pan and the US. Queens­lan­der Har­burg ac­quired it in 2011 and gave it that fa­mous Penske/Sunoco liv­ery. The other two chas­sis were also built up with 004 hav­ing an Aussie link with its first owner be­ing Alan Hamil­ton in the late 1970s. Later funny man and cer­ti­fied Porsche freak Jerry Se­in­feld added that car to his im­pres­sive col­lec­tion be­fore sell­ing it re­cently for USD$3 mil­lion dol­lars. With only six chas­sis in to­tal ever con­structed, Har­burg is to be ad­mired for let­ting race fans share in the thrill of see­ing the most pow­er­ful sports racer ever built in ac­tion. wanted to move this car on quickly. I made a sharp of­fer and the deal was done. I have put it back to ex­actly how it was with a gen­uine al­loy 430 Chev. The Amer­i­cans aren’t fussed over orig­i­nal­ity as they let over size en­gines and ex­tra aero on cars that never had them. Last year I raced it on con­sec­u­tive week­ends at Mid- Ohio and Road Amer­ica, tracks that hosted Can-Am events orig­i­nally and are un­changed ex­cept for bet­ter fenc­ing. They are fan­tas­tic. At Road Amer­ica I told a guy there that there were cor­ners that were ex­actly the same as cor­ners at Ama­roo, Oran Park and Lake­side. All four cir­cuits were built in 1961. It is a hand­ful with a short wheel­base, 780bhp and no aero. We were still fastest of the ear­lier non down­force cars at Road Amer­ica.” Roger Penske com­mis­sioned Lola to build this chas­sis for Mark Dono­hue to take on the dom­i­nant McLarens in 1969. With Penske run­ning cars in Trans-Am, Indycar and long dis­tance sports cars at the same time devel­op­ment was non-ex­is­tent and it showed. The Lola broke rear axle half shafts in prac­tice, qual­i­fy­ing and nine laps into its first race at MidOhio. Penske im­me­di­ately can­celled his Can-Am at­tack and sold the car to Eno de Pasquale who put it on static dis­play while he raced an­other chas­sis, fi­nally sell­ing the Penske car in 2008.

Peter Har­burg

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