January 19, 2016

50th Anniversary Time Capsule Tuesday Bios

George Follmer

Team Penske will be celebrating 50 years in motorsports in 2016. To bring you some of the terrific stories of our five-decade run of excellence Team Penske is running weekly online features, this is the third instalment of “Time Capsule Tuesday.” We hope you enjoy this memorable time in our history.

George Follmer is one of the living legends of motor racing. He is one of the most adaptable drivers, having participated in nearly every form of motor racing. Follmer is one of the most versatile of the 85 men that have driven for Team Penske, as he competed in Can-Am, Endurance, Trans-Am, and NASCAR in 1967, and then returned to Team Penske in 1972-1974. During Follmer’s racing career at Team Penske, he competed in 18 races across four seasons and four separate series, posting five wins for the team over that span. With his flexibility, skill, and winning record, Follmer is considered by some as one of the most successful and versatile within his profession.

Follmer was born in Phoenix, where he resided until his father, an engineer, moved the family to Los Angeles. He earned a business degree from Pasadena City College, found work selling insurance, married and became the father of a son and two daughters. Follmer bought a two-year-old Porsche Speedster in 1959 and decided to learn how to race.

Follmer worked his way up to USRRC and began the 1967 USRRC season with his Lola, but in June received a phone call that would change the face of his racing career.

Roger Penske called and asked if Follmer would drive Mark Donohue’s Camaro in Mid-Ohio’s Trans-Am race. Donohue had to be at Le Mans, and Roger Penske had an obligation to Chevrolet to run at Mid-Ohio. Follmer finished third in the race. The strong result in his debut race for Roger Penske car would pay dividends in the future.

In 1972, Follmer became the first and only driver ever to win both the Trans-Am and Can-Am championships, winning nine of fourteen races. His first Can-Am race that year came about when Mark Donohue was injured and Roger Penske called upon Follmer as a temporary replacement. Never having seen the car or practiced in it, Follmer drove the legendary Porsche 917 10K 'Turbo Panzer" to victory. His performance in the car convinced Roger Penske to keep Follmer, running a two-car team once Donohue recovered. Follmer won five Can-Am races for Team Penske, with four pole positions and five fastest race lap records.

Over the course of his Team Penske career, Follmer earned five poles, including a pole in his only NASCAR start, at Riverside at the 1974 Tuborg 400. Follmer, piloting the No. 16 Penske Matador led one lap and completed seven laps before his engine expired, resulting in a 33rd place finish. 

Regarded as one of the top road course racers, in 1999 Follmer was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in the sports car category.

 Source: http://georgefollmermotorsports.com/bio.html