1972 INDIANAPOLIS 500: 2022 is the 50th Anniversary of Win for Mark Donohue and 1st for Team Penske

After the upcoming Sebring 12 Hours Endurance Race in mid-March, the next big internationally renown race from the US will be the Indianapolis 500 run at the end of May. This years 500 will mark the 50th Anniversary of one of our favorite drivers of all-time, Mark Donohue, getting his 500 win in 1972, and the first for Team Penske. This would be the fourth attempt for the new to Indy team of Team Penske with Donohue driving. Mark’s first 500 was in 1969 in a Lola T152 and he would finish 7th and be awarded the Rookie of the Year Award. In 1970, Mark also ran a Lola and would come in 2nd place to Al Unser in the Johnny Lightning Special for the Parnelli Jones Team. In 1971, Roger Penske and team would have a new McLaren M16 for Donohue to race and it was very fast and Mark jumped out into the lead and looked to be the dominate car to win, but mechanical issues put him out before halfway through the race, and Al Unser would again win with his second in a row.

In 1972 Mark Donohue and Roger Penske would have a new “updated” McLaren M16B with a larger rear wing and slightly different front nose in the now familiar colors of Sunoco Blue and bright Yellow and running number 66. Mark would start again from the front row and would get his only Indy 500 Win and would set a couple of records that day in May 1972. In that race, he set record for fastest average speed of 162.2 MPH for the entire race……….a record that stood for over a decade, and also set a fastest lap of the race at 187.539 MPH.

A couple of years later, during his brief “retirement”, Mark would write his now famous book “THE UNFAIR ADVANTAGE” with Paul Van Valkenburgh and there is some great stories and his memories of this Indy 500 Win in 1972, along with many other diary type memories of his time in racing up to his attempt at running in F1 and his tragic death on August 19, 1975 after a warm up accident at the Austrian Grand Prix.It is a fantastic book for any race fan and one of my favorites that I still go back and read often when thinking about “Back in the Day” with racing and motorsports……

Again, Thanks for stopping by and until next time…….TACH IT UP!!!

(photo from ABC Wide World of Sports Promo we currently display)

Mark Dohohue screams by the pits on front straight to get the ’72 WIN in the McLaren M16B

Mark Donohue would start from the front row for 3 straight years in ’71-’73

Seen here at top in 1971, and also in 1972 middle with Bobby Unser and Peter Revson and the again in 1973 with Bobby Unser and Johnny Rutherford

Mark’s now famous bright yellow Bell Star helmet worn for the 1972 INDY 500 and some of his other notable races as with the Porsche 917-30 as shown. This is displayed at the Speedway Motors fantastic Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska and I had to get a picture when my Son and I visited them at Speedway when my Son was working for the Nebraska Cornhuskers a few years ago……

When I first started racing in 1975 I had a Yellow helmet as a tribute to Mark Donohue, a racing hero. Wore it in yellow until around 1978. This is at Riverside Raceway in Southern California when we were racing with IKF (International Kart Federation) in the lay down type “Enduro” type karts that were very fast and where a lot of racers got their starts.

This is in 1968 as a young boy meeting Mark Donohue at Meadowdale Raceway near our home at the time in the Chicago area. My Dad was with the AMC Javelin Trans Am Team and this was at the Trans Am Race. Mark had the nickname as “Captain Nice” and he was very friendly and lived up to that reputation and still is a great racing memory I have from the past…..You can see more of this race at our post or You-Tube video on the 1968 Meadowdale Race

This is the cover of Mark’s book “The Unfair Advantage” which was originally released in early 1975 right before he came out of his “Retirement” and got back into driving with going into Formula One. Then unfortunately died in a strange accident in practice at Austrian GP when a tire came off and hit him in the head and passed away a few days later. One of my favorite books of all time and I recommend it to any race fan wanting to know more about this great driver, engineer and start of Penske Racing

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