SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 38, September 20, 2012

Racing News: George Follmer to Be Honored at Petersen Automotive Museum

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The Petersen Automotive Museum will present a special "Tribute to George Follmer" at the museum in Los Angeles, November 8.

George Follmer to be Honored at the Petersen Automotive Museum
For its fourteenth year of celebrating Legends of Motorsport, the Petersen Automotive Museum, along with the Checkered Flag 200 Group, will present a special “Tribute to George Follmer” program to be held at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, Thursday, November 8, beginning with cocktails at 6:00 p.m. The evening’s festivities include a gallery display of George Follmer-centric race cars and memorabilia supported by eminent collectors.

The tribute will brim with stories about Follmer. Forty years ago, Trans-Am Champion Follmer, subbing for Mark Donahue, was under pressure going into Mid-Ohio’s Can-Am race to drive Roger Penske’s 5.4L twin-turbo Porsche 917/10, while the car’s L&M sponsor coined a promotional button “Let George Do It!” The mantra stuck, and fan fervor soared. Follmer drove the 917, heeding team boss Penske’s pit signal to keep going in his lead while others pitted for rain tires. Follmer won the race, inspiring media scribes to brand him “George Am.” He finished out 1972 as series champion in Trans-Am and Can-Am—the only driver to win both series titles in the same year.

Another accolade came Follmer’s way in 1972, and remains very special to him. The American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association’s Jerry Titus Memorial Award honored Follmer as “Driver of the Year.” Also, in August of 1972, he simultaneously held Mid-Ohio’s qualifying records for three major racing series—Can-Am, Trans-Am and Continental F5000. Follmer would also later win the Trans-Am title for a second time in 1976 driving Vasek Polak’s Porsche 934 Turbo.

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George Follmer
   

At age 39, Follmer was then the oldest driver to start an F1 race—it was 1973 at Kyalami, South Africa, where he finished in sixth place—a points-earning position in his very first Grand Prix start. Teamed with Jackie Oliver in Don Nichols’ black DN1 Shadows, Follmer’s next F1 race in the UOP car was on the Montjuich hill circuit in Barcelona, where Follmer, finishing third, stood on the Spanish GP podium alongside winner Emerson Fittipaldi and second-place François Cevert.

Filling Follmer's three decades of driving were Trans-Am, Can-Am, NASCAR, Champ Car, Continental F5000, the Indy 500, IMSA, IROC, FIA Makes, Bosch Super Vee, SCCA Escort Endurance Showroom Trucks, top qualifier in Fast Masters’ Jaguar XJ220, and the enduros at Sebring, Daytona and Le Mans. He’s in the Motorsports Hall of Fame and on The Walk of Fame at Watkins Glen.

The tribute evening will be hosted and moderated by Master of Ceremonies Bill Stephens. Among the VIP guests who’ve been invited are Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, John Morton, Tony Adamowicz and a number of other familiar names from George Follmer’s racing past.

To guarantee admission, or for more information on the event, call Sarah Hill at 323-964-6325 or Paul Moritz at 323-964-6359. Reserved ticket purchase is priced at $125 per person for museum members and $150 for non-members. Reservations will be held at the Petersen Museum door. Tickets may also be purchased online through the Museum’s website at www.petersen.org.

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