Right after the 4th of July in 1968 and our Country’s celebration of the Red,White and Blue, the American Motors Corporation Team had a “home” race outside of the Chicago Area in Carpentersville, Illinois at the Meadowdale International Raceway. The 3.2 Mile road course had been built in the the late 1950’s by the Besinger Family who was a local developer and builder. The track became to be known as the Midwest Monster being built in the style of a number of the European circuits and even boosted a controversial “Monza” wall banked turn like the famous track in Italy. In 1968 the track was reopened after taking down the very dangerous Monza Wall turn that led back on to the long main down hill straight past the paddock area.
The “Professional” SCCA Trans Am Series race from 1968 would be the last major event held at Meadowdale and all of the bib teams showed up for the 7th race of the season. The Penske Team was there with Chevy Camaros for Mark Donohue and Sam Posey. Shelby Racing had two of their famed Tequila Yellow and Black Ford Mustang coupes for the previous years Champion Jerry Titus and local Chicago driver, Horst Kwech. The “Big Draw” was for the local team from AMC with the bright Red, White and Blue Javelins for Peter Revson and George Follmer. It was also the first time that a Pontiac Firebird would race in the SCCA Trans Am series with former Penske partner Terry Godsall as owner and driven by Craig Fisher.
In the race , both Shelby Mustangs had their typical “Tunnel Port Headed” problems that were experienced with Ford in the ’68 Season, although Jerry Titus did post the fastest lap. George Follmer in the #4 Javelin was disqualified for his blatant and deliberate ramming of one of the Mustangs and his point and finishing did not count. After 75 laps, Mark Donohue’s Penske-Sunoco Camaro had pretty much run away with the race for the win,followed by Peter Revson with a very solid drive in the #3 Javelin for second place. Posey was third and in it’s first official Trans Am appearance, the Firebird driven by Craig Fisher was a decent fourth place. The under 2 liter cars also ran in this same race and Tony Adamowicz, Fred Baker and Peter Harrison, all in dominant Porsche 911’s, were 5th-7th and first,second and third in the U-2 Class.
I was able to be at that race , as we lived about 10 minutes from the track, and I was with my Dad and a few of the Team members from the Javelin’s. At that time, Pop was working for Ronnie Kaplan Engineering (RKE) who was building the Javelins for AMC and running the team. Dad was the painter for those famous and iconic Red, White and Blue Javelin Trans Am big #3 and #4 racing machines from 1968 and 1969.
Below are a couple of screen shots from some of our old 8mm films of some differing races from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. We do hope in the near future to have a few more of them digitized,cleaned up and posted here and on U-Tube through some new productions.
Please stay tuned and until next time………TACH IT UP……..!!!
The #3 Revson Javelin ready for practice in pits.
Follmers #4 about to get a new set of Goodyears to head back out prior to qualifying.
Jerry Titus #1 followed by Horst Qwech #2 in the Shelby Mustangs heading to grid with their qualifying position plates under wipers.
Mark Donohue at speed during practice heading towards the “Old Monza Wall” turn.
Meeting Mark Donohue and getting an autograph from “Captain Nice”. He was great!
#2 Kwech’s Mustang into Doanes Corner.
Jerry flies by in the #1 car.
Follmer heads by and in typical George fashion gives the “One Finger Salute” to us.
Peter Revson contemplates the next job at hand.
Revson’s #3 on grid and John Martin checks the rear mini wing.
The front row on grid prior to start of the 250 mile race. Titus Mustang and Donohue Camaro to lead the field off.
Roger Penske and Jerry Titus in conference prior to full grid. I wonder what those two were chatting about as the both constantly were ribbing each other. Jerry is probably lobbying for one of the Chevy 302 engines as the Fords were not real stellar for most of ’68.
Mark trying to prep for race ahead with all the pre race stuff all around.
Follmer past paddock on main straight.
Titus back out after stop in pits.
Marks flies past up the hill in twistys on last lap towards the checkers.
Jerry and Mark at grid ready to rumble…….
#4 Follmer in the Javelin with a deliberate “nudge” of Jerry in the #1 Mustang. Driving actions like this would get George disqualified.