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1978 Penske IROC Camaro

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History

 
 

The International Race of Champions (“IROC”), organized by Roger Penske, Les Richter and Michael Phelps, began in 1973. It was an annual, invitation-only, series pitting 12 of the world’s top drivers against each other in identically prepared cars. The idea was to see who was the best overall driver in the world. In 1973, the drivers raced Porsche RSR’s. Beginning in 1974, and up through the 1980’s, Camaros were the car of choice. Today, in 2006, the series is still going strong featuring many of the top U.S. drivers. But back in the late 1970’s, when this IROC Camaro was racing, the field included racing stars from all over the world.

In the late 1970’s, the IROC Series included international racing stars such as Grand Prix World Champions Mario Andretti, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, James Hunt, and Jody Sheckter. NASCAR was strongly represented by its champions and legends Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Benny Parsons, Neil Bonnett, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and many more. Indianapolis 500 Champions Al Unser Sr., Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, Gordon Johncock, and back-to-back IROC Champion, A.J. Foyt were just a few of the very best from the Indy Car ranks to race the IROC cars. Many consider this period the heyday of the series with truly the best of the world behind the wheel. Each of these famous drivers either raced in, or against, the Riverside Red IROC Camaro #8.

The first Camaros raced in the IROC series from 1974 through 1976, were production-based Camaros prepared for racing by Penske Racing and the IROC organization. However, in 1977, there was a quantum leap to the next generation IROC Camaro.

For 1977, Penske and IROC retained legendary NASCAR driver and car builder, Banjo Matthews, to help them build new Camaros from scratch. Only the engine, bodywork, T-10 gearbox, and sometimes the steering box came out of the GM parts bins (depending on the track, the GM steering box was sometimes swapped out for a Ford steering box). The rest of the car was pure, tube frame, race car. Only 15 of these second generation IROC Camaros were built.

These tube frame IROC Camaros raced in the IROC Series from 1977 through 1980.
One of these cars was Riverside Red Car #8. It was driven by 1978 IROC Champion Al Unser Sr., Johnny Rutherford, Benny Parsons, and many others.

After its IROC racing career, the car was sold to Jocko Maggiacomo, a well-know, very successful, road racer from upper New York state. Car #8 went on to race in the 12 Hours of Sebring on multiple occasions. It also raced in the Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series as well.

The International Race of Champions (“IROC”), organized by Roger Penske, Les Richter and Michael Phelps, began in 1973. It was an annual, invitation-only, series pitting 12 of the world’s top drivers against each other in identically prepared cars. The idea was to see who was the best overall driver in the world. In 1973, the drivers raced Porsche RSR’s. Beginning in 1974, and up through the 1980’s, Camaros were the car of choice. Today, in 2006, the series is still going strong featuring many of the top U.S. drivers. But back in the late 1970’s, when this IROC Camaro was racing, the field included racing stars from all over the world.

In the late 1970’s, the IROC Series included international racing stars such as Grand Prix World Champions Mario Andretti, Emmerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, James Hunt, and Jody Sheckter. NASCAR was strongly represented by its champions and legends Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Benny Parsons, Neil Bonnett, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and many more. Indianapolis 500 Champions Al Unser Sr., Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, Gordon Johncock, and back-to-back IROC Champion, A.J. Foyt were just a few of the very best from the Indy Car ranks to race the IROC cars. Many consider this period the heyday of the series with truly the best of the world behind the wheel. Each of these famous drivers either raced in, or against, the Riverside Red IROC Camaro #8.

The first Camaros raced in the IROC series from 1974 through 1976, were production-based Camaros prepared for racing by Penske Racing and the IROC organization. However, in 1977, there was a quantum leap to the next generation IROC Camaro.

For 1977, Penske and IROC retained legendary NASCAR driver and car builder, Banjo Matthews, to help them build new Camaros from scratch. Only the engine, bodywork, T-10 gearbox, and sometimes the steering box came out of the GM parts bins (depending on the track, the GM steering box was sometimes swapped out for a Ford steering box). The rest of the car was pure, tube frame, race car. Only 15 of these second generation IROC Camaros were built.

These tube frame IROC Camaros raced in the IROC Series from 1977 through 1980.

After its IROC racing career, the car was sold to Jocko Maggiacomo, a well-know, very successful, road racer from upper New York state. Car #8 went on to race in the 12 Hours of Sebring on multiple occasions. It also raced in the Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series as well.

The car was next sold to Kevin Staub, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He kept the car until 1984, when he sold it to James Whitman. Mr. Whitman owned the car for over 15 years before selling it to its current owner. The ownership chain for this car is complete with no gaps.

Recently Car #8 was professionally restored and set up using the original set up sheet for Riverside Raceway. With very few performance exceptions noted in the Description section below, the car is as it was raced by the world’s greatest drivers at the pinnacle of the IROC Series.

The Riverside Red Camaro comes with its original log book. It also comes with original testing records, set up sheets, lap charts, chassis notes, etc. from its IROC races, and from its Sebring and Trans-Am races as well. In addition, the Camaro comes with ABC Wide World of Sports videos of many races showing the car with various drivers. It also comes with an AutoWeek article about the car, as well as original, period, photos of the car at speed. The new owner will additionally receive a reproduction photo of Camaro #8 signed by the IROC drivers . The original of this photo is in the Penske Museum.

 
     
 

Description

 
 

The Camaro is finished in its original Riverside Red color. It has its original Banjo Matthews fabricated race car chassis with front sub-frame around the engine and a rear sub-frame encircling the trunk. It also has a full stock car roll cage which is also used to stiffen the chassis.

The suspension is coil spring both front and rear with tubular upper A-arms and steel plate lower A-arms in the front. The corners are jack-screw adjustable with 800 lb. front springs and 300 lb. rears. The shocks are dyno-tuned, Penske adjustable shocks. Holman-Moody hubs are located at all four corners. The rear differential is a Detroit Locker with full floating axles and a panhard bar.

Car #8 currently has Wilwood, six piston front brakes and four piston rears with 85 compound Performance Friction pads. The original Hurst-Airheart calipers come with the car. The car also comes with two sets of chrome wheels. One set is the original, Norris Industries, 15X9.5 steel wheels, and the other is a new set of Circle racing wheels.

The car has been professionally restored. It has its correct fiberglass front fenders, nose, and shovel spoiler. It also has a non-original fiberglass hood. However the original steel hood comes with the car. The dash, gauges, pedals, and diver’s seat are all original. The oil cooler, radiator, steering wheel, and dry sump tank are all original as well. The fuel cell is new.

The engine is a 355 cubic inch Bowtie block fully race prepared. It was built by Billy Mathes of Performance Engines. It has ARP studs, Crower billet rods, a forged race crank, a Competition Cam solid roller cam, and Rollmaster rockers. It has Brodix aluminum, spread port, heads with rolled valve angles and a Jessel valve train. The heads are matched to a Victor Jr. intake. A Holley/Barry Grant 750 CFM carburetor sits atop the engine. Spark is provided by an Accel 300+ electronic CD ignition system. The original transistorized Delco ignition system, however, is provided with the car.

Engine lubrication is handled by a high volume Barnes four stage pump with a Canton scavange filter and oil pan. The fuel and oil lines are all Aeroquip. The headers are 1-7/8” tube, 180 degree style, fabricated by Tubular Automotive as reproductions of the cross-under style headers that were original to the car. They are also AirBorn coated. The mufflers are Borla XR-1 Slim Series, also coated.

The engine was dyno-ed at 587 BHP, which is considerably more than the 450 BHP obtained from the IROC engines in the 1970’s. The power is driven through a three disc clutch and a Super T-10 Borg Warner four speed transmission.

Spares include upper control arm, ductwork, new front spoiler, shocks, Hurst-Airheart brake calipers, etc.

Summary

With current high driver salaries, strict team and sponsor contracts, and specialized cars for specific series, we are unlikely to ever have another coming together of the world’s greatest drivers to compete on a given day, on a given track, in equal cars to see who is best overall. But in the late 1970’s we had it. We had the great championship-winning drivers from Grand Prix racing, Indy Car racing, endurance racing, and Stock Car racing all coming together to fight it out to see who was the best-of-the-best. They did it in 15 Penske-prepared IROC Camaros. This is one of those cars.

This is an opportunity to own a rare piece of international racing history for a fraction of the price one would pay for a race car driven by just one of the great international champions that drove these cars. This racing history will not be repeated.

There are only a handful of these cars, and they are almost never offered for sale. Buy it, enjoy it, and watch your investment grow. It’s a lot more fun to look at in your garage than a bank statement or stock certificate, and much more fun to drive!


Chassis Number: IROC stamp #10
Engine Number: N/A

 
       
 

Price: Sold          Currency Converter

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