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Roger Penske, Kirk White, Ferrari and Porsche


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#1 rl1856

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 03:04

Most knew of Kirk White (RIP), his wheeler dealer reputation, and his sponsorship of the Penske Ferrari 512M during the 1971 sports car season.  Their 512M was delivered from the Ferrari factory, and rebuilt by the Penske team to be better than the factory cars.  It was documented at the time that the team sent the engines to TRACO Engineering in LA for preparation. TRACO supposedly extracted an extra 25-50 HP per motor (reports vary- but the engines were more powerful after tuning than before).  The cars arrived at Daytona and caused a minor sensation.  There prepared to a standard that embarrassed the factory team, and were faster than the favored Porsche 917 factory cars.  The Penske-White 512M easily achieved pole position, and was doing well in the race until a collision with another car.  Sebring was much the same.  The car was rebuilt to the Penske standard, was the fasted during practice, then ran into difficulty during the race.  They had one last hurrah at LeMans. Supposedly the Ferrari factory gave them a special engine that did not last, while their normal race engine lasted for the race, with the car finishing in the top 10.

 

Regardless of final results, everyone was impressed by the Penske team; their efficiency, preparation and quality of the cars they raced.

 

Two questions come to mind:

 

How much of what Penske accomplished with White/Ferrari helped to convince Porsche that Penske was the person to run their CanAm 917-10 program in 1972 ? 

 

Was the Ferrari effort a shrewd calculation by Penske to show a potential client what he was capable of ?

 

Thanks !



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#2 SKL

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 04:26

Even being a life long Porsche guy, that was one of my favourite race cars.  In the early 2000's our family was on spring break in England, and my younger son saw a Ferrari dealership while driving through a smaller town north of London, so of course we stopped.  I guess one of the salesman we talked to was impressed I recognized a Mika Hakkinen helmet on his shelf so he told us about their race shop about a mile away and said we could visit it.  Long story short, in addition to a bunch of Stradale race cars, they were restoring one of Gille's Ferraris and the Kirk White/Penske car was under a plastic sheet!  Luckily they showed it to us...   my boys, about 12 and 15 at the time still vividly remember it!



#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 05:00

Do you get any clues to the answers you want from the Mark Donohue books?

 

Either the old Unfair Advantage book or the Mike Argetsinger books?



#4 kayemod

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 11:53

There's a lot of interesting comment on the Penske/Ferrari/Kirk F White saga in Kirk's most enjoyable book, Don't Wash Mine. I really liked this book, and have just read it for a second time. When first published, it received some mixed reviews. I usually have a high regard for reviews on the Speedreaders site, but on Don't Wash Mine, they missed the point so completely that I began to wonder just what they had expected to find. The book tells readers a lot about the more exotic end of the used car business, and you'll learn a lot about buying and selling second hand Ferraris, but it's more about the characters concerned than it is about technicalities. The book doesn't detail the financial aspects, but I think that Kirk paid for the car and necessary spares, while Penske covered racing expenses. The high point for me was Kirk's description of a ride around Sebring in the Penske 512 Ferrari, clinging on for dear life while chauffeured by none other than Mark Donohue. Rather him than me I thought.

 

Pasted below is the description on Amazon, where the book is sadly "Currently unavailable".

 

Filled with fabulous and entertaining tales, Don’t Wash Mine chronicles Kirk White’s fascinating journey through the golden age of motorsports and car collecting. From running a Ferrari dealership in Philadelphia to fielding some of the most memorable competition vehicles of the time through his eponymous racing stable, White crossed paths with iconic figures such as Roger Penske, Brock Yates, Mark Donohue and Dan Gurney. The founder of the modern collector car auction industry, White left an indelible impression on automotive enthusiasts around the world and collected stories of a life well lived that are sure to delight readers of every age and interest.



#5 10kDA

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 12:06

It appears most if not all of the content of "Don't Wash Mine" is available here:

 

http://www.dontwashmine.com/



#6 PhantomRaspberryBlower

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 16:45

.... and the Kirk White/Penske car was under a plastic sheet!  Luckily they showed it to us...   my boys, about 12 and 15 at the time still vividly remember it!

 

Hmmm, I suspect that would probably have been the replica that the owner of the original sends to events worldwide - the real thing being far too precious and kept in climate controlled storage.



#7 Updraught

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 19:03

Most knew of Kirk White (RIP), his wheeler dealer reputation, and his sponsorship of the Penske Ferrari 512M during the 1971 sports car season.  Their 512M was delivered from the Ferrari factory, and rebuilt by the Penske team to be better than the factory cars.  It was documented at the time that the team sent the engines to TRACO Engineering in LA for preparation. TRACO supposedly extracted an extra 25-50 HP per motor (reports vary- but the engines were more powerful after tuning than before).  The cars arrived at Daytona and caused a minor sensation.  There prepared to a standard that embarrassed the factory team, and were faster than the favored Porsche 917 factory cars.  The Penske-White 512M easily achieved pole position, and was doing well in the race until a collision with another car.  Sebring was much the same.  The car was rebuilt to the Penske standard, was the fasted during practice, then ran into difficulty during the race.  They had one last hurrah at LeMans. Supposedly the Ferrari factory gave them a special engine that did not last, while their normal race engine lasted for the race, with the car finishing in the top 10.

 

Regardless of final results, everyone was impressed by the Penske team; their efficiency, preparation and quality of the cars they raced.

 

Two questions come to mind:

 

How much of what Penske accomplished with White/Ferrari helped to convince Porsche that Penske was the person to run their CanAm 917-10 program in 1972 ? 

 

Was the Ferrari effort a shrewd calculation by Penske to show a potential client what he was capable of ?

 

Thanks !

 

Question #1 - Quite a lot

Question #2 - No



#8 arttidesco

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 19:25

It is my belief that pretty much everything The Captain has done always shows off to potential partners what he and his operation is capable of.