Mark Donohue

A graduate of mechanical engineering from Providence, Rhode Island's Brown University, Donohue went into industry but became increasingly involved in racing, starting in hillclimbs with a Chevrolet Corvette before switching to an Elva. He switched to open-wheelers in 1965 in a Lotus 20 Formula Junior car which he raced in Formula C. He caught the attention of top sports car racer Walt Hansgen and ended up driving Mecom Racing Ferraris alongside Hansgen. This led to an invitation to drive for the Ford factory team in 1966 and Donohue and Hansgen finished third at the Daytona 24 Hours and second in the Sebring 12 Hours. Hansgen was killed later that year but by then Donohue had attracted the attention of CanAm team owner Roger Penske and Donohue raced a Sunoco Lola-Chevrolet for Penske, finishing second in the series to John Surtees.

In 1967 Donohue won the US Road Racing Championship for Penske and in 1968 dominated TransAm in a Penske Camaro. There was a second TransAm title in 1969 and that year Donohue also won the Daytona 24 Hours with Chuck Parsons. He was named Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis, finishing seventh in the Indy 500, the Penske team's first appearance at The Brickyard.

In 1970 Donohue led at Indy and won races in TransAm (in a Javelin) and Formula 5000 (in a Lola T190). In 1971 he added another TransAm title and won the Pocono 500. That year he drove a Penske Sunoco McLaren to third place on his F1 debut in Canada.

It was the 1972 season however which gave him his greatest success when he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Penske-run McLaren-Offenhauser. He also raced a Penske run factory-supported Porsche 917 in CanAm but after a big crash at Atlanta he missed part of the season because of a broken leg. He came back from the injury in 1973 and won the CanAm title again in a Penske Porsche 917, finishing third in the Formula 5000 series. He then decided that he was going to stop racing.

He became Penske's team manager but in 1974 Penske decided to enter F1 and offered Donohue the drive. The Penske PC1 appeared at the Canadian Grand Prix that year. The car was developed in the course of 1975 but in the mid-season Penske decided to switch to March chassis. Three races later Donohue crashed heavily following a tyre failure in the morning warm-up before the Austrian Grand Prix. It initially seemed that he was only lightly injured, but he died three days later from severe brain injuries.