"The Lightweight" Sunoco Camaro Returning to The Glen

Infamous Acid-Dipped 1967 Camaro Dominated Trans-Am in 1968

1967 Camaro Trans-Am Car

"The Lightweight" will hit the track during Opening day on Sunday, April 26th at noon.

Mark Donohue always searched for what he called “an unfair advantage” and the 1967 Camaro, famously nicknamed “The Lightweight”, that epitomized those efforts will be part of the festivities during Opening Day at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, April 26th.   The car that dominated the Trans-Am Series in 1968 will be on display and hit the twists and turns of The Glen during the Mark Donohue tribute laps scheduled for noon on April 26th.  Opening Day is also the last day to take advantage of the advance sale ticket prices for any 2009 racing event held at the racetrack this summer.

“The Lightweight” debuted in the fourth to the last race of the 1967 season and won two of them.  Donohue actually lapped the entire field in the car during the final race of the season which lead to the race organizers weighing the car and finding it 250 lbs. shy of the required minimum weight of 2800 lb.  Following the discovery, as the story is told… Penske inferred a not-so-subtle threat of Chevy pulling out of the series if Donohue was disqualified, true or not, the victory stood but SCCA officials told him the car would never be allowed to race again.

In 1968, a new car was built using the acid dipping process but weight was added back to balance the car and make it the required minimum weight.  Following a loss in the in the 24 Hours of Daytona, Chevy asked Penske to enter two Camaros in the 12 Hours at Sebring.  There was not enough time to prepare a second car so the decision was made to bring back “The Lightweight,” add enough weight so that it exactly met the required minimum, and use it in the race.  The team was able to fool SCCA officials and tech inspectors by putting a 1968 grille and taillights on “The Lightweight” so that it matched the ’68 version perfectly.  Donohue went on to drive the car to a victory in the Trans-Am class and finished 3rd overall in the race.  The team stayed with the now legal ‘Lightweight” for the rest of the season and claimed 10 of the 13 races on the way to easily winning the 1968 championship. 

Opening Day at WGI will feature a full day of on-track activity and the official release of the new Mark Donohue biography titled Mark Donohue: Technical Excellence at Speed from David Bull Publishing authored by Michael Argetsinger with a foreword by legendary car owner Roger Penske.  Two versions of the new book will be available to purchase at the track, including the publisher’s edition for $99.95, and the regular edition for $39.95.  In addition to “The Lightweight,” two SCCA championship cars, the six other cars currently scheduled to appear are the rare 1973 Penske PC-1/003 Formula 1 car, 1973 Eagle-Offy Indy Car, 1967 Trans-Am Camaro, 1973 Porsche 917-30 Can-Am car, and two Lola T70 Can-Am cars. 

For only $20, fans can drive three laps around the same turns as Mark Donohue and many legends of Motorsports on Opening Day.  Gates will open at 9:00am with laps starting at 10:00am and ending at 3:00pm including a half hour break for the Mark Donohue Tribute Laps at noon.   Proceeds from Opening Day will benefit the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC). Additional information on the weekend’s activities can be found either at the Center’s website www.racingarchives.org or the Watkins Glen International website, www.TheGlen.com.

Tickets for the entire 2009 season at Watkins Glen International are on sale now and this Sunday, April 26, marks the last to save using the advance ticket prices.  For tickets and information, please contact the WGI ticket office at 866-461-RACE or log on to the official Watkins Glen website at www.TheGlen.com. Tickets, gift certificates and track merchandise can be all purchased at The Shop located at 2 North Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen, Open Monday-Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-4, Closed Sunday; 607-535-2338.

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2009 Opening Day

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