Jump to content


Photo

Penske Lola T70 Coupe.


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 RJE

RJE
  • Member

  • 118 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 07 December 2014 - 14:40

If this topic has been aired before please forgive me but it is something that has puzzled me for many years and came up again in a conversation I was having a few days ago.

 

In 1971 while working out of T/G Racing in LA I recall a man arriving at the workshop in a T70 coupe which he claimed to be the ex Penske Daytona winning car.  The car had been very nicely modified for road use with AC and a well fitted out interior.  The "owner" was an very large guy with a mass of frizzy hair and a bushy beard and who was referred to as "Wolfman" when ever he was talked about.  He seemed a very personable fellow and even offered me a ride in the car, which I regret I turned down.  I was told he was in the record business in some form of production capacity.  He was always dressed in jeans and a tee shirt in a way which rather seemed to belay his apparent wealth.  He continually regaled us with tales of how he had blown away various Lamborghini and other local hot rods.  The last time I saw him he turned up not in the Lola but a rather tatty early Mustang.

 

Now what makes this story rather more intriguing is the fact that some twenty years later I was telling the above to an associate in California who could possibly have known about such things and he told me that the Wolfman was not a record producer but a member of the LAPD drug squad and the car was part of his cover.   Also that the car was in fact owned by the local police force, all be it rather covertly.  I have no reason to disbelieve the man, as I say he may well have known about such things.  He was very much part of the motoring scene in that part of the world during the period.  The Wolfman I was told had been found an alternative name and address somewhere in the US. 

 

Can anybody verify the story or provide a different history for the Lola which may contradict the second part of the tale. 



Advertisement

#2 bobLee

bobLee
  • Member

  • 65 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 07 December 2014 - 16:31

Mike Bohannan AKA the Wolfman did indeed own an ex Penske Lola MK3B.  He said it was the one stolen and recovered so it would have been SL76/139.   Mike modified the coupe to run on the street and along with some friends with other cars founded the Banzai racer group that did speed runs on the LA freeways early in the morning.   Max Kelley said you had to do a recorded run of 200mph to join the club.  Other reports say it was over 150mph.  The group ran when traffic was lightest sometime after the bars closed and before the commuters were out.  I believe it was around 3 am.

Max said one night the Wolfman showed up at his house early in the morning with his girlfriend in tow demanding that Max get out his Hewland gear charts to prove to the girlfriend how fast they were going based on the tachometer.  The Wolfman told me they always scouted the freeway area for the speed run and made sure there were no pavement issues.  They used a team with walkie talkies to spot traffic and give the all clear.

 

Mike said that on one time he started a run and a highway patrol car entered in front of him from a feeder street.  The coupe had modified front lights that were brighter than the normal street car.  Mike kept his foot in it and the partrol car took evasive action to get out of the way.  Once Mike was past the patrol car gave chase at its top speed of say 115-120 mph.   Mike put some distance on the patrol car and then pulled off and waited and waited and waited.  When partrol car went by Mike went the other way.   The next day two undercover officers came by the Banzai coffee shop hangout and said to the group "don't do that again".  After the 1971 LA earthquake Mike said he discontined his runs because of the inconsistency of the freeway pavement do to the earth movements.  He later said the Banzai group had been over run with the gold chain crowd and he left. 

I doubt the Wolfman was an undercover officer.  Per Max Kelley the Wolfman had been a major pot dealer and was busted and made some deal to stay out of jail.  The Wolfman was a real character and serious gearhead.


Edited by bobLee, 07 December 2014 - 16:54.


#3 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 07 December 2014 - 17:24

There is a report here of how the Penske Lola was found "butchered" I wonder how many SL76/139's the unscrupulous might have built out of the remains ?

 

There was of course a Lola T70 used by the cops ...

 

 

... in the George Lucas film THX 1138, which I believe was the ex Garner AIR T70 SL73/117 that after filming was converted for road use by / for a Dan McLoughlin. I wonder if the T70 in this linked picture taken on Highway 101 in 1973 is either Dan or Wolfman's car ?


Edited by arttidesco, 07 December 2014 - 17:27.


#4 RJE

RJE
  • Member

  • 118 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 08 December 2014 - 09:39

Thanks for that.

 

I remember the Wolfman telling the tale of the police chase.  As I recall he said that among Penske's mods to the Lola was his fusing and switching of all of the light circuits on the car so that during the chase he turned off the tail lights so that the cops had difficulty seeing him. 

 

With regard to arttidesco's post.  If the Daytona car was cut up which car did the Wolfman have?  It was in Sunoco colours when I saw it and until now I had assumed it was more or less as it left Penske.



#5 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 December 2014 - 09:42

Thanks for that.

 


With regard to arttidesco's post.  If the Daytona car was cut up which car did the Wolfman have?  It was in Sunoco colours when I saw it and until now I had assumed it was more or less as it left Penske.

 

That's the point it did not 'leave' Penske it was stolen from Penske from a car park in Florida on the way back from Sebring to Penske HQ in Penn.



#6 Tim Murray

Tim Murray
  • Moderator

  • 21,711 posts
  • Joined: May 02

Posted 08 December 2014 - 11:21

Penske had two Lola T70 Mk3Bs - SL76/139 and SL76/140. Their subsequent histories according to John Starkey can be read here:

http://books.google....PA178&lpg=PA178

 

There's no mention of either car being converted for road use, although SL76/140 was apparently sold in 1972 by Fred Opert to a man who had robbed a bank to get the purchase money.  :eek:



#7 bobLee

bobLee
  • Member

  • 65 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 08 December 2014 - 16:13

Thanks for that.

 

I remember the Wolfman telling the tale of the police chase.  As I recall he said that among Penske's mods to the Lola was his fusing and switching of all of the light circuits on the car so that during the chase he turned off the tail lights so that the cops had difficulty seeing him. 

 

With regard to arttidesco's post.  If the Daytona car was cut up which car did the Wolfman have?  It was in Sunoco colours when I saw it and until now I had assumed it was more or less as it left Penske.

Max Kelley who worked on Wolfman's Lola said it was the ex Penske coupe from Daytona.   The chassis had not been cut up.  The thieves removed the engine and were caught before they finished stripping the car.  There was a more detailed report I read of the incident that did not mention cuting up the chassis.



#8 bobLee

bobLee
  • Member

  • 65 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 08 December 2014 - 17:27

Penske had two Lola T70 Mk3Bs - SL76/139 and SL76/140. Their subsequent histories according to John Starkey can be read here:

http://books.google....PA178&lpg=PA178

 

There's no mention of either car being converted for road use, although SL76/140 was apparently sold in 1972 by Fred Opert to a man who had robbed a bank to get the purchase money.  :eek:

I just talked to Chuck McConnell and he verified that the Wolfman had owned the ex Penske Daytona winning Lola MK3B.  Chuck and Max Kelley both worked on the Wolfman's Lola MK3B right after he purchased it from Penske.  Chuck said the chassis had not been cut up and the car was in Penske colors when the Wolfman bought it.  Chuck said the Wolfman had all the Penske paper work confirming the car's history.  Mike Bohannan AKA the Wolfman is 75 and lives in Southern California. 



#9 r.atlos

r.atlos
  • Member

  • 416 posts
  • Joined: June 07

Posted 08 December 2014 - 17:29

You can read it all in the local press ...

 

The car was stolen on Monday morning and recovered on Monday noon less engine, wheels and "some parts" - still on its three ton flatbed truck.

 

The missing parts were recovered and the thieves arrested almost exactly one month later.


Edited by r.atlos, 08 December 2014 - 17:30.


#10 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 December 2014 - 17:36

Max Kelley who worked on Wolfman's Lola said it was the ex Penske coupe from Daytona.   The chassis had not been cut up.  The thieves removed the engine and were caught before they finished stripping the car.  There was a more detailed report I read of the incident that did not mention cuting up the chassis.

 

I guess I'll file this one with the Ed Hugus LM story, - possible - awaiting visual verification :up: :smoking:



#11 2F-001

2F-001
  • Member

  • 3,619 posts
  • Joined: November 01

Posted 08 December 2014 - 17:53

There is about a page-and-a-half on the theft (and subsequent recovery) of the Penske Lola in Mark Donohue's book.
There, he says it was the Daytona winner, stolen post-Sebring (as mentioned above).

According to he story given there, the thieves were certainly not caught in the act, but that a huge effort was made to find it
The car (and truck) were found a day or so later dumped in marshland; the Lola had been hacked about quite a bit to remove fixtures and fittings (the word "torched" is used in regard to the removal of components…), along with wheels, gearbox, a spare engine, tools and equipment, and the rest of the car "all torn up".

It's claimed that a paid-for tip off came from someone in Maryland about a month later… with the thieves then caught after the discovery of a barn full of stolen stuff, including a lot of items from the Penske truck.
The story goes on to say that they got someone else to rebuild the wreck and that they (Penske) installed a stock Chev 350 and sold it on to "a guy in California" as a street car, but the owner kept trying to get Penske mechanics to go to California to tune it for him!

Curiously, there doesn't seem to be any mention of the team having a second chassis, even when explaining that the loss of the car scuppered their plans to go to Le Mans.

#12 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 08 December 2014 - 18:01

There is about a page-and-a-half on the theft (and subsequent recovery) of the Penske Lola in Mark Donohue's book.
There, he says it was the Daytona winner, stolen post-Sebring (as mentioned above).


The story goes on to say that they got someone else to rebuild the wreck and that they (Penske) installed a stock Chev 350 and sold it on to "a guy in California" as a street car, but the owner kept trying to get Penske mechanics to go to California to tune it for him!

 

:up: :blush:



#13 bobLee

bobLee
  • Member

  • 65 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 08 December 2014 - 19:13

There is about a page-and-a-half on the theft (and subsequent recovery) of the Penske Lola in Mark Donohue's book.
There, he says it was the Daytona winner, stolen post-Sebring (as mentioned above).

According to he story given there, the thieves were certainly not caught in the act, but that a huge effort was made to find it
The car (and truck) were found a day or so later dumped in marshland; the Lola had been hacked about quite a bit to remove fixtures and fittings (the word "torched" is used in regard to the removal of components…), along with wheels, gearbox, a spare engine, tools and equipment, and the rest of the car "all torn up".

It's claimed that a paid-for tip off came from someone in Maryland about a month later… with the thieves then caught after the discovery of a barn full of stolen stuff, including a lot of items from the Penske truck.
The story goes on to say that they got someone else to rebuild the wreck and that they (Penske) installed a stock Chev 350 and sold it on to "a guy in California" as a street car, but the owner kept trying to get Penske mechanics to go to California to tune it for him!

Curiously, there doesn't seem to be any mention of the team having a second chassis, even when explaining that the loss of the car scuppered their plans to go to Le Mans.

Thanks for the memory jog.  I got out my copy of "The Unfair Advantage" and there is the story on page 147.  Starkey apparently never read Mark Donohue's book or like me had a senior moment.  ;)



#14 r.atlos

r.atlos
  • Member

  • 416 posts
  • Joined: June 07

Posted 09 December 2014 - 01:16

I can only reiterate what I said before. If you want period prime source details, search page 18 of the Daytona Beach Morning Journal dated March 25, 1969 and page 3 of the the same paper dated April 26, 1969.

 

It will even tell you where SL139 on its flatbed truck has been found, namely off Cone Road, near Barberville Road and it gives you even the name of the Daytona Beach Police Detective Sargent ... :lol:

 

I know this is hard to accept if historical facts stand in the way of of a good story ... :lol:



#15 2F-001

2F-001
  • Member

  • 3,619 posts
  • Joined: November 01

Posted 09 December 2014 - 04:43

Just to be clear, I wasn't attempting to refute anything suggested previously - merely to relate how the story had been reported by someone involved; but the press reports that r.atios has seen appear to tie in with Donohue's account. Except for the car/truck being found the same day; Donohue suggests around 24 hours or so, because he says he had time to hire someone (or at least attempt to - the outcome of that is not clear) to circle around in an aircraft looking for them...

I'm still curious about the question of Penske having a second chassis.

#16 raceannouncer2003

raceannouncer2003
  • Member

  • 2,734 posts
  • Joined: March 05

Posted 09 December 2014 - 06:39

I'm still curious about the question of Penske having a second chassis.

 

More info here (SL76/140):

 

http://www.wsrp.ic.c...s_lola_t70.html

 

http://www.racingspo.../SL76__140.html

 

Vince H.



#17 oldtransamdriver

oldtransamdriver
  • Member

  • 227 posts
  • Joined: August 05

Posted 09 December 2014 - 06:53

Hey RJE,

 

off topic,  but would like to hear more about your TG Racing days.

 

Please reply to     oldtransamdriver@yahoo.ca

 

thanks,

 

Robert  Barg



#18 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 12 January 2015 - 19:39

Having enjoyed a good deal of humble pie for my doubts about the opening hypothesis of this thread I thought you might enjoy this :-

 

02_IMG_4676sc.jpg

 

A genuine Broadley T76 Continuation by Broadley Automotive seen at Autosport International last week.



#19 arttidesco

arttidesco
  • Member

  • 6,310 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 13 January 2015 - 01:06

  Max Kelley said you had to do a recorded run of 200mph to join the club.  Other reports say it was over 150mph.  The group ran when traffic was lightest sometime after the bars closed and before the commuters were out.  I believe it was around 3 am.

 

A bit more on the Banzai Runners on this R&T link, it would appear 150mph would get you into the club  :wave: