1971  Le Mans 24 Hours

   June 12, 1971    cont.

Tony's co-driver Sam Posey, leads Mark Donohue's similar Sunoco/Penske Ferrari - on the second lap

    The Penske-Donohue 512M was truly a detailed machine with matching yellow pin striping.  The dark blue color with yellow trim produced a strikingly un-Ferrari like appearance.    The wheels were at a high polish over the normal painted gold Ferrari NART wheels.  You could eat off of any part of the car.  It looked every bit a winner.

    Unquestionably, it was a fast car.  We'd seen that five months earlier at Daytona.  Once again here at Le Mans, the blue Penske 512M out qualified us.  Many called it the Fastest Ferrari in the World, but it was not our equal during the race where it counts the most. 

Our N.A.R.T. Ferrari in the pits on Saturday afternoon.  I'm in the car now and Sam Posey is leaning down talking to me.

In the pits at Le Mans during the 1971 race with my good friend Vicki Dokus and George Eaton.  George was driving a Ferrari 512S with Masten Gregory and went out shortly after the start.

Sam at the wheel.  A little battle damage shows up front.

     The rear suspension had alternate adjustable suspension pick up points, new springs with different rates and adjustable roll center.  Their new springs gave them trouble, collapsing under the stress of the banking G forces at Daytona.

Looking down at Donohue's car from Le Mans Press Tower

     So what was the Mystique of the Blue Penske /Donahue 512M?  Their chassis underwent major work in the cab and was strengthened wherever they felt was needed.  It underwent complete AN plumbing & wiring overhaul, simplifying the factory wiring harness, which gave them problems during the race. 

     The factory M bodywork was replaced by lightweight bodywork made from their own plastic molds.  The bodywork did not hold up to the rigors of Daytona during a 24 hr race.  The rear wing was replaced by a new full-width wing design that produced more down force than the standard wing with less angle of attack.  The design produced additional loads on bodywork and wing attachments, to the point they were failing and needed constant maintenance.  This caused potential aerodynamic imbalance of the car, producing understeering handling traits.  No additional front aerodynamic tabs were added to compensate for the handling.  The limited slip differential was replace by a locker rear end, that produced additional understeer.  This was one of Mark's traits and he wanted to use the locker rear end.

     Their 512 M engine was re-engineered by TRACO in Culver City, California for better performance and reliability.  The fuel injection cam was re-mapped for better mid range power and the valve springs changed to allow maximum 9500 RPM's.  The engine oiling and fuel system was revamped as well, for better reliability.  Although TRACO Engineering had a great reputation as an engine builder, ultimately the engines were not so reliable and even the power was questionable at times.  Despite the car's great qualifying performances, one could only think that it was over engineering and not necessarily an unfair advantage over the initial Ferrari 512 design.

     But I digress.  We're here to tell our story with photos, not Penske/Donohue's, so back to our NART team, and my effort with Sam Posey.

Donohue's 512M

Tony Adamowicz, Gary Wheeler, Tony a2z, Tony Adamowics, a2zRacer, Gary Wheeler, Tony Adamowicz







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