Mark Neary Donohue, Jr. (b. Summit, New Jersey, March 18, 1937 - d. Graz, Austria, August 19, 1975) was an American racecar driver. Despite being born in New Jersey and dying in Austria, Donohue's home was in Newtowne Square, PA
He was graduated from Brown University with an engineering degree, and began racing sports cars casually at the age of 22. He got a break in 1966, catching early season rides at Daytona and Sebring, and was signed by Roger Penske to race USRRC and CanAm for the remainder of the season.
He dominated the 1967 USRRC championship, winning six of eight races, and the Trans-Am championship, winning ten of thirteen. He was the leading US sports car racer of the late 1960s and early 1970s, winning three Trans-Am championships between 1967 and 1971 and dominating the CanAm circuit as well.
In 1969 he was seventh in the Indianapolis 500, winning rookie of the year, and debuted in Formula One on September 19, 1971 with the McLaren team, finishing third. Donohue won the 1972 Indianapolis 500, driving for Roger Penske, with a then record speed of 162mph.
On January 21, 1973, driving an AMC Matador for Penske at the NASCAR Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup) race at Riverside, California, he won the season-opener and remains the last non-regular driver (road course ringer) to win. After winning the 1973 Race of Champions he announced his retirement, only to be lured back to full-time driving when Penske formed a Formula One team to compete in the final two events of the 1974 F1 World Championship and the entire 1975 season with the new Penske PC1.
Donohue was the 1974 IROC champion. Donohue set the then world closed-course record driving a Porsche 917-30 at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama in August 9, 1975. His average speed was 221.120 mph. Mark Donohue was killed ten days later. The current record of 241.328 mph is held by Brazilian driver Gil de Ferran in a Reynard-Honda at California Speedway in Fontana, California on September 27, 1997, during practice for a CART race.
Midway through the 1975 F1 season, Penske abandoned the troublesome PC1 and started using the March 751. Donohue was practicing this car for the Austrian Grand Prix when he lost control after a tire failed and he crashed into catch fencing. A track marshal was killed by debris from the accident, but Donohue didn't appear to be injured significantly. However, a resulting headache worsened and after going to the hospital the next day, Donohue lapsed into a coma from a brain hemorrhage, and died.
Mark Donohue's other legacy was the legendary book, "The Unfair Advantage" (Co-written by Paul Van Valkenburgh) where he chronicled his racing career from his first races to his final full season of racing the year before he was killed. This was not an autobiography, but detailed, step by step, his engineering approach to every car he developed and drove from an engineer's perspective.
In 2003, in commemoration of Penske Racing's 50th NASCAR win, Ryan Newman drove a Dodge Intrepid painted to resemble Donohue's 1973 AMC (with a #12 and current Alltel decals) at Rockingham, NC.
- In 1990, Mark Donohue was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1990.
Complete Formula One ResultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
|1971||Penske|| RSA|| ESP|| MON|| DUT|| FRA|| GBR|| GER|| AUT|| ITA|| CAN|
|1974||Penske|| ARG|| BRA|| RSA|| ESP|| BEL|| MON|| SWE|| DUT|| FRA|| GBR|| GER|| AUT|| ITA|| CAN|
| ITA|| USA||Penske||15th||4|
Indy 500 resultsEdit
- Mark Donohue's IROC and NASCAR stats at racing-reference.info
- Mark Donohue Photos
- Road Racing Drivers Club see - deceased members bio list - biography and photograph (includes biographies of all ever invited to join Road Racing Drivers Club, living and deceased)