1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RSR IROC #1 Pilot: M. Donohue Team: IROC Race: 1st overall at IROC Daytona in 1974 Spark - US142 (resin)
Roger Penske began his racing career in the 50s, and raced from NASCAR to Formula 1. In 1965 he retired from racing and founded his own team, Penske Racing. The team debuted in the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, and in 1972 won the Indy 500 with Mark Donohue. In 1973, again with Donohue, they won their first NASCAR race. By then Penske was a well-established name in the racing scene, and a keen businessman. In 1973 he had an idea for a new racing series, the International Race of Champions (IROC). The concept was simple – the world’s best racing drivers in identical cars competing against each other. So Penske contacted famous drivers of the era, like Fitipaldi, Revson, Donohue, Follmer and Petty. Overall 12 pilots from F1, SCCA, USCA and even NASCAR. The first race was at Riverside (10/1973) and the last one was at Daytona (02/1974).
As the story goes, Penske talked to Mark Donohue about what car to use. According to legend, Donohue recommended the latest Porsche 911 RSR, which he drove in late 1972. Donohue considered the RSR a strong, fast, reliable and consistent racing car. With that, Penske got in touch with Porsche and bought 15 cars. However, these cars were not regular models, they were 15 identical 911 Carrera RSR built to specs. The cars were specially built, being hybrids between the 1973 2.8 RSR and the new 1974 3.0 RSR. Officially called 911 Carrera 3.0 RSR IROC, they all came in brilliant colors. Drivers would swap cars among them for each race, only changing the nameplate on the doors. Moreover, the same team of mechanics would work on all the cars. Everything to keep things fair and the playing field level.
The Carrera RSR IROC used a 2994 cm³ boxer-6. Called Type 911/74, with a Bosch Mechanical Fuel Injection it delivered 315 hp. It counted on a 5-speed manual transaxle transmission and had a fully independent torsion-bar suspension. However, with all cars equal, it all came down to the driver, and that was the beauty of the IROC. The last race of the 1973-74 season would be at the Daytona International Speedway. On that February 14, 1974, Mark Donohue piloted car #1, chassis #9114600090. Donohue came in first place overall, and with his two other victories at Riverside, he took home the IROC cup. Sadly, that was his last racing victory. On August 19, 1975, during testing of a F1 car for the Austrian Grand Prix, he fatally crashed.
In 143rd, as expected, this 911 IROC is nothing less than terrific. Spark did a great job, and absolutely nailed the real car in scale. An interesting tidbit is that this model is a limited edition. Spark only made 750 units, mine being #256. I don’t know when Spark first issued it, however I think it must be a recent release. I say that because I only discovered the model earlier this year. Also, when I bought mine there were three more up for grabs, so I infer it’s new. Nonetheless, since Mark Donohue is a personal racing hero, I bought it as soon as I saw it. The last of his cars that I got was the 917/30 record car, in late 2019. And this one being from his last victory, makes it especially important for me.