FLYING AMERICAN COLORS: Javelins into Sebring Trans Am 1968 (50th Anniversary for 2018)

With the next major sports car race coming up next month at Sebring with IMSA,in mid-March, I thought I would add the couple of photos below of the first race for the AMC Javelin Racing Team. After very minimal development and test time, Sebring 1968 was the initial outing for the team. Lead car was driven by Peter Revson, John Martin and George Follmer. A second and lesser known car was driven by 2 female drivers and another minor sponsor, Bill Haenett. The 2 ladies were Janet Guthrie, who went on to be first woman in the Indy 500 and a Dutch rally driver by the name of Liane Engermann.

The Revson/Martin/Follmer entry would complete 193 laps and finish 13th overall and 5th in class. Pretty solid for first time out. The Guthrie/Haenett/Engermann ride would complete 144 laps to finish 33rd overall, and would be involved in a slightly controversial driving incident where MS Engermann forced the leading,at the time, Ford GT 40 of Paul Hawkins/David Hobbs, way off the track into the “boonies”, but luckily Paul got gathered up with not too much damage before back out in contention. The outspoken Brit had a few not so kind words about Lianes driving and said something to the effect that “The Ladies picnic is tomorrow and she shouldn’t have even been in the race”…..

 

TACH IT UP……………!!!

 

 

As you can see from the paragraphs below, we have posted this a couple of times before around the 4th of July as Patriotic Racers with the red, white and blue themed cars. Now we will use this as a lead in to upcoming post on specifically the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Trans Am Series with SCCA and few more manufacturers stepping into the popular racing format. Specifically upstart American Motors with the Javelins trying,and successfully, giving the bigger and well funded Ford and GM teams, a run for their money. Late in 1967 around this time, American Motors decided to enter the 1968 Season with a team of 2 cars run by Ronnie Kaplan Engineering, RKE out of Chicago to market their entry into the “Pony Car Wars”.

Please come back soon for more on the Javelins and the 1968 Season.

Until then…..TACH IT UP……..!!!

THERE WAS NO KNEELING WHEN THESE COLORS WERE FLOWN !

 

 

Thought I would “Re Post” this brief write up from the 4th of July last year after seeing articles on the American Motors Trans Am Team and the Championship that Mark Donohue and Roger Penske won in 1971 for AMC. This months Hot Rod Magazine has nice article. Also a new book out on the History of AMC Motorsports that shows a number of the programs that were set up.

Also as a side note for an upcoming feature, I was just in the process of moving and came across some of our old 8mm movies from “back in the days” and we have some movies of the 1968 Trans Am race from Meadowdale Raceway that was outside of Chicago and about 10 minutes from where we lived. Could be some of the only footage around of the Javelins,Mustangs,Camaros and others battling on that long track as one of the last Major Events held there before closing down. I am planning on going through the film and editing down on to CD and trying to post video soon both here and probably Youtube…..

So, stay tuned and please come back to check out when those get posted.

Until then,

TACH IT UP……………!!!

 

On this most of Patriotic Days in America, I thought it would be very appropriate to make a quick posting of what Is one of the most iconic American Themed Race Cars. The American Motors Javelin Trans Am Cars of 1968 to 1972 with the very bold red, white and blue paint scheme set them apart from most all of the other teams at the time and screamed “Americana”. In late 1967 when the team was being set up for Ron Kaplan Engineering out of the Chicago area, Jim Jeffords and his marketing guys at American Motors came up with this recognizable flag stripe paint theme. When the Javelins were then being prepared for the 1968 Trans Am season and George Follmer and Peter Revson were selected as drivers, the paint work was done on the cars and all the support vehicles. My Dad was one of the painters hired for the RKE Team and handled the spray gun for much of this race team painting. I was lucky enough to be around in the shop as just a “little rascal” and probably more of a pain, but I do have some neat memories of being able to be there when these VERY AMERICAN painted cars were being prepared. Thanks, POP!

Later on after the Javelin Team was taken over by Penske Racing and raced by Mark Donahue in 1970 and 1971, American Motors selected to keep that paint theme,smart move, however they did change the blue to a darker shade of Sunoco blue that was on all of the Penske Race Cars at that time, which still looked fantastic.

After the American Motors Javelins, other Teams started to use similar paint themes, Peter Brock’s BRE Datsuns come to mind, along with John Greenwood with the Corvettes and now many more, however I think that these Javelins were really the first with such a BOLD AMERICAN Theme. In Mark Donohue’s book, “The Unfair Advantage” he is quoted saying ” I may be slightly prejudiced, but the 1971 Trans Am Javelins has to be one of the most attractive sedan racers”…

Happy 4th and TACH IT UP………!

4 at Riverside

George Follmer flying at Riverside 1968 finishing 2nd to Mark Donohue. The #3 car was painted Red,White and Blue, front to back while the other #4 team car was Blue,White and Red, front to back as can be seen below.

 

3 at Meadowdale

Peter Revson at Meadowdale 1968. The number 3 car also finished 2nd here behind Donohues Camaro that was so dominant for ’68. The #4 Javelin of George Follmer was penalized a lap for “rough driving” and punting Jerry Titus in a Shelby Mustng out of the way. Titus was leading at the time. We were at this race as it was the home track and about 20 mins away from our house.

 

3 promo 69

1969 Promo Ad picture for Trans Am Season. Cars recieved hood scoop, much larger wheel flares and Mini-lite Wheels.

 

6 in 70

Mark Donohue in the #6 Sunoco Javelin in 1970 Trans Am season with the darker blue as the lead color in scheme. Mark would finish 2nd to rival Parnelli Jones in a Bud Moore Mustang for the 1970 Championship.

 

6 in 1970

In 1971 American Motors finally won the Trans Am Championship in Mark Donohue’s favorite old red, white and blue Javelin.

 

 

george at RFR

In 2008, George Follmer was our Grand Marshall and Guest of Honor for the Reno Historic Races at Reno-Fernley Raceway. The event was a big success at the time and was put on by HMSA for Vintage Racing. Here George signs some autographs for “old time” race fans. During the event we got to spend some time with George and discuss those old Javelin days. In 1972 George won the Trans Am championship also again for American Motors in an ex-Penske Javelin for Roy Woods Racing.

 

4 detail

Detail on paint scheme shows the contrasting red or blue Pin Stripe that Pop did on the 1968 #4 George Follmer Team Javelin.

 

 

1 RWR Javelin

The Restored 1972 Javelin of Roy Woods Racing as run by George Follmer to win Trans Am Championship. At a recent Vintage Event with the 1967 Sunoco Camaro in the background.

 

 

55 tedted at lake

In 1970 our friend Ted Roberts, an independent racer, bought one of the ’69 Javelins from RKE and updated to ’70 sheetmetal for the Trans Am Series that year. With support from Norris Industries/Fyr Fyter, Ted had Dad’s shop,Custom Craft, paint the Red , White and Blue theme length wise to have separate identity from AMC Factory Team of Penske/Donohue and previous design from RKE.

 

 

Javelin Wingphoto (46)

When Vintage Racing started to take off in mid-1980’s, Ted Roberts then had the Javelin painted in the more recognizable “early theme” but still with his ‘ol #55. This it at Del Mar for the Vintage Races running with Ted in ’82/’83 just prior to the IMSA/Camel GT Races that year. Ted was good friends with Andy Griffith, and his company did the music for the TV Show Matlock, hence the plug on the front fender……

 

Hornet X

In Drag Racing in mid-’70’s, this is the Pro Stock AMC Hornet of Wally Booth that American Motors had kept the “angled” theme as shown earlier with the George Follmer and Roy Woods Racing 1972 Javelin from Trans Am.

 

The only time both Javelins on the front row. 1968 Trans Am race at Mid-Ohio when John Martin ran in place of George Follmer and put the number 4 on pole and Peter Revson in the 3 car was second. This is start with Mark Donohue, Jerry Titus and Ronnie Bucknum all in chase of Team Red, White and Blue. (photo courtesy of John Martin)

 

American Motors publicity picture going into the 1968 Trans Am season

 

 

JAVELIN RACE TEAM Jacket that we still have that Pop got as one of the many we had years back when he was with the Kaplan Engineering Team for AMC. This one is a red wool lined jacket from Brill Brothers of Milwaukee, appropriate of course, that has patch on front and felt letters in back. We did have 2 or three windbreakers and a very cool ,or back in the times, “bitchin”, leather red, white and blue jacket that I actually used for racing karts many years ago…not quite sure where any of them went. I think we did give one to our good friend Ted Roberts with the Fyr-Fyter #55 when we ran with him at Del Mar in the early eighties…

 

The Javelin of Peter Revson/John Martin/George Follmer in its first race at Sebring 1968.

 

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  9. paul doerr

    great to see some of the earlier cars……lookin good, great article,Gregor

    • notorious

      Thanks Pop, Thought you would like this. I will also put up a few of our shots of Ted Roberts #55 Fyr Fighter here soon of when you guys ran the colors the length wise of the car which looked really good too. Have a few of those pics up before from when Ted ran it that way before he switched back to original theme like he ran when we were with him at Del Mar etc……

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