This 1968 USAC Pen-Can Ltd. Sunoco Chevy Eagle helped pioneer the small block Chevy race engine. The car was constructed by Dan Gurney's All American Racers and is Chassis #406. It was originally purchased by Roger Penske for Mark Donohue as their first Indy car as described in Mark Donohue's book 'The Unfair Advantage,' chapter 13.
In 1969, the car was sold to Wineberger Homes, their driver being Ron Buchnum. It was then sold to owner/driver Arnie Knepper and raced by him in the 1971 and 1972 season, including at the Indy Speedway, repowered with an Offenhouser motor. It was then sold to Precision Racing (LaWare Family) and repowered with Chevy motors and raced in 1974 and 1975.
After 1975, the car was relegated to the back of the LaWare facility until being purchased in 1999 and fully restored by J.D. Pinotta (Vintage Motorsports).
This was Dan Gurney's first 1968 Eagle produced for team owner Lindsey Hopkins. Roger McCluskey qualified the car 7th for the 1968 Indy 500 and ran as high as 2nd place before being sidelined with a cooler leak. McCluskey campaigned this car during the 1968 season with success. The car has been driven at many vintage motorsport events, including Fontana, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Goodwood Festival of Speed where it was driven by Bobby Rahal. This Eagle is powered by a 2.65-liter (168 cubic-inch) turbocharged Offenhauser engine with produces 750 horsepower at 8500 RPM which is coupled to a Hewland LG 500 MK1 (4-speed) transaxle. It rides on a 96.3 inch wheelbase, weighing 1,380 lbs. and has a fuel capacity of 72 gallons of methanol.
This Pen-Can Sunoco Eagle was built by Dan Gurney's All American Racers. It was originally purchased by Roger Penske for use by Mark Donohue as their first USAC Indy car in 1968. The car's first competitive outing was the Telegraph Trophy race at Mosport on 15 June 1968. After two 40-lap heats, Donahue placed 5th overall.
This car's second outing was at the Rex Mays 300 at the Riverside International Raceway in California. Unfortunately, Donahue and the car was unable to finish the race. Donahue's final outing in chassis number 406 was at a test session for Goodyear Tires held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Richard Oeffinger, representing Sid Weinberger of Weinberger Homes, purchased the car in early 1969. It was purchased directly from Roger Penske for use by Ron Bucknum. Fitted with an Offenhauser engine, the car would qualify 16th at that year's Indianapolis 500, but ultimately DNF due to a burned piston, and would place 26th overall.
A Chevrolet engine was re-installed and the car was entered at Phoenix, but failed to qualify. The third and last race for the AAR Eagle for Bucknum was at Riverside. After running as high as 4th, the car did not finish because of a loose hose clamp.
Arnie Knepper purchased the car in 1970 and campaigned the car during the 1971 season. Arnie would compete in most of the USAC races, including Indianapolis.
The car was later sold to Precision Racing, repowered with Chevrolet engines, and raced in the 1974 and 1975 seasons. It was raced by Larry Rice for the first year and then by John Hubbard for the balance of 1974 and 1975. After the 1975 season, the car was relegated to the back of the LaWarre's shop in Florida, where it would remain until 1999.
The current owner discovered the car in LaWarre's shop. A correct Traco-built engine block, and a correct intake manifold was found to complete the engine restoration to the same specification it had raced at Riverside in 1968.
Currently, the engine produces 525.4 horsepower and 450.5 foot-pounds of torque.
The chassis has been repainted in period-correct Sonoco Blue with yellow stripes. The numbers and lettering have been hand-painted. The suspension and brake components were reconditioned and rebuilt. The gearbox has been re-configured to road-racing specifications.
The restoration was completed in 2004. After the work was completed, it was shown at the 2005 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017