For years Watkins Glen has been known as The Blue Monster because of its sky blue guard rails which still closely surround the circuit. The top of The Esses was always a very challenging section, flat out with a quick car getting light when the road bends left as it tops the crest of the hill. This lovely Bill Fox photo catches the feeling perfectly as George Follmer charges by in Roger Penske’s Porsche 917/10 turbo during the CanAm race at The Glen on July 23, 1972.
Penske Racing ran Porsche 917s in the CanAm starting in 1972 with George Follmer doing most of the driving after Mark Donohue was injured in a violent testing crash at Road Atlanta when his Porsche’s bodywork came adrift. Donohue had done most of the development work for Porsche’s CanAm effort and returned late in the season to win the race at Edmonton with a 917/10. Follmer, however, had dominated the 1972 series and took the Championship with five wins. The 917/10 was not the ultimate CanAm Porsche, that monster arrived for Donohue 1973 with almost twice the power of its earlier sibling.
Everyone who has raced at The Glen treats The Esses with the greatest care. If you want to get the speediest exit onto the straight which follows but get out of position, they can be deadly. François Cevert, who competed in this CanAm race with a McLaren M8F and won one CanAm race during the year, would crash here fatally during qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix in 1973. After the Cevert accident a chicane was placed on the hill in 1975 to slow the fragile F1 cars. Known somewhat mockingly as the Scheckter Chicane after F1 driver Jody Scheckter, it was the cause of more problems than it solved and was removed in 1983.
Photo by Bill Fox ©The Klemantaski Collection