Denny Hulme – 1974 Porsche Carrera RSR IROC
The inaugural International Race of Champions (IROC 1) was held at two tracks in USA in 1973/74. The first three races were held on 27th and 28th October 1973 at Riverside International Raceway in California and the final race was held on 14th February 1974 on the ‘Road Course’ at Daytona International Raceway in Florida. The IROC series was to continue for the next 30 years until 2006.
It was said that the “Top 12 drivers in the World” were selected to compete in the 1974 IROC series. The genesis of the idea was to pit representative drivers from different race codes and have them race in against each other in identical Porsche Carrera cars that were made for the IROC series. Drivers were selected from Formula One, USAC Champ Car, NASCAR Winston Cup and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Fifteen new Porsche Carrera RSR 3.0 litre cars of some 320 bhp were made by the Porsche factory for Roger Penske for the IROC series. These were not road cars but special Porsche racing cars based on the highly successful Porsche 911 and maintained in USA by IROC Porsche mechanics. To avoid any notions of advantage or favouritism, drivers drew by lot their car for each race and the only allowable adjustment that could be made by drivers was to adjust their seat!
At Riverside, for the first race on 27th October 1973, Denny Hulme (Can-Am and F1)started 4th in the #6 blue car, chassis 0075, and he finished 5th behind Mark Donohue (SCCA and Can-AM), Bobby Unser (USAC ), Peter Revson (SCCA, Can-Am & F1) and George Follmer (SCCA and Can-Am). In Race 2, Denny finished 8th in car #5 to Follmer, David Pearson (NASCAR), Emerson Fittipaldi (F1), Revson, A.J Foyt (USAC), Unser, and Bobby Allison (NASCAR). In Race 3, Denny was 8th again, this time while driving Car #8 to Donohue, Unser, Fittipladi, Pearson, Follmer, Foyt, Revson – behind Denny were Allison, Richard Petty (NASCAR), Gordon Johncock (USAC) and Roger McCluskey (USAC).
Denny was not one of the six drivers to compete in the final round of IROC 1 held at Daytona on 14th February 1974. The race was won by Donohue from Revson, Unser, Pearson, Follmer and Foyt. Denny finished 8th in the series to take home $6000 compared to the winner’s cheque of $54,000, won by Mark Donohue. Beyond Donohue in 1st place, the final placings were Peter Revson, Bobby Unser, David Pearson, George Follmer, AJ Foyt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Denny Hulme, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Gordon Johncock and Roger McCluskey. Penske disposed of most of the 15 cars after Riverside and kept only enough cars for the six drivers at Daytona, after which these cars were also sold. Such is the collector value put on the 15 original cars, they are selling in 2015 for close to NZD$1 million!