Mark Donohue came to racing as a college student at Brown University. In 1966, he teamed with Roger Penske racing sports cars, wining the USRRC twice. He raced Ford GT 40’s at Le Mans, won the Daytona and Sebring Endurance Races, the Indianapolis 500 in 1972, and the Trans Am series. Nicknamed Captain Nice due to his quiet demeanor, he retired from racing in 1973, but was lured back when Penske entered F1 in 1974. This photo is of Donahue in the Penske PC1 going uphill into the Esses at The Glen in 1974.
Jacky Ickx is Belgium’s greatest driver, winning eight Grand Prix’s, coming second in the championship twice, winning six 24 Hours of LeMans, two World Sportscar Championships, one Can-AM championship, and the Dakar Rally. In Formula One he earned the nickname “Ringmeister” for his success at Germany’s famous Nurburgring. This photo is from 1969 USGP where he drove for Brabham in Formula One, on the old Chute section of the original Watkins Glen layout.
James Hunt was the original wild and crazy guy, and a seriously talented driver. He came on the scene in 1973 driving for Lord Hesketh’s eccentric operation before moving to McLaren for the epic 1976 season, where he edge Lauda by a single point for the championship. He won three races in 1977, but by 1978 his career was on the wane. In Long Beach he smacked the wall and failed to finish. This photo was taken at La Gasomet hairpin with a 28mm lens, driver and photographer less then 10 feet apart – too cool for words.
Emerson Fittipaldi was Brazil’s first World Champion winning in 1972 and 1974. He burst onto the scene in 1970 winning the USGP as a replacement for Jochen Rindt. The win clinched the title for Rindt denying the fast closing Jacky Ickx the points needed to overtake Rindt. In 1974 he switched to McLaren where he stayed until 1976 when he switched to his own car. Emo won both the CART and F1 Championships and won Indy twice. Here he leads Tom Pryce in the Shadow out of the Anvil at the 1975 USGP.
Watkins Glen was nearing the end of its run when the race was held in 1979. The recession of the 1970’s coupled with bad behavior by some fans caused the track to fall from grace. By the time of the 1979 race, Jody Scheckter had cinched the championship for Ferrari. His teammate, Gilles Villeneuve of Canada would win at the Glen, in wet weather, with Rene Arnoux second and Didier Pironi third. The late 1970’s to early 1980’s saw some of the most competitive racing in F1 history with 11 different drivers winning races in 1982, a far cry from today’s follow the leader racing with only 2-3 winners per season.
The Glen hosted the USGP for 20 years between 1961 and 1980. Originally it was the most popular venue on the Grand Prix calendar, largely because of its friendly atmosphere away from the adoring European fans and for the prize money. Up until the 1970’s drivers received money for showing up for a race but no prize money for race performance. Watkins Glen needed a way to get the teams and drivers from Europe, so huge, for the time, purses were offered. It wasn’t unusual for a driver to win more money for three hours of racing at Watkins Glen then he did for the entire season in Europe. 1972 was the year that Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert finished 1-2 in the Tyrrells.