It is known as The Lightweight. The reality is that this blue and yellow bomb is a heavyweight in the history of North American road racing. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure many visitors to the show just saw a cool old racecar. I saw the Belle of the ball!
This 1967 Chevrolet Camaro is the 14th Z28 ever built and was originally transformed into a race car in the service department of Gorries Chev in the east end of Toronto for team owner Terry Godsall. One of CanadaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top drivers of the day, Craig Fisher, campaigned the car in the Trans Am portion of the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢67 Daytona 24 hour endurance race. Fisher finished 2nd in the Trans Am race, scoring the first series points for the Camaro. The 13th production unit was being raced by the Roger Penske and Mark Donohue duo.
After the destruction of the 13 car, Fisher joined Penske and he and Donohue co-drive the 14, but not before Penske & Donohue worked their magic on it. The car was acid dipped and received a Traco V-8 and was painted in the blue & yellow Penske Sunoco colors. Between Fisher and Donohue, the car won 2 of the final four races. In the final race, the car lapped the entire field. During post race tech, it was discovered that the car weighed 250 lbs. less than the 2,800 lb. minimum. Somehow, silver-tongued Penske talked his way out of any penalties and kept the win.
At the beginning of the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢68 season, the bosses at GM wanted Penske to run a 2-car team after the lone car dropped out of the Daytona race. GodsallÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s car received the updated trim that Ã¢â‚¬â„¢68 models had and went back to war for the Sebring race. Of course the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢67 car was still under weight, so the new car went through tech twice, with different numbers. When it came time to qualify, the process was reversed, with The Lightweight qualifying with both numbers! In the years that followed, The Lightweight changed hands several times and was actively raced in Trans Am until 1972 when it was put into storage.
Canadian vintage racer Jack Boxtrom found the car in 1980, restored it and went vintage racing. Alabama racer Pat Ryan and his son Sean have been campaigning The Lightweight in vintage events since 1989 under the banner of Unfair Advantage Racing, named after the book written by Mark Donohue.
I saw The Lightweight race at Mosport a number of years ago, but it was a real treat to get up close to it at the Toronto show. It isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t very often in life that we get to have a brush with true greatness and this car is a testament to the things that great minds can do when they work together.
You’ll find more details about this incredible piece of history in the Globe and Mail, superbly written by Bob English.