Penske PC3 No.28 Belgian GP 1976 John Watson
The 1976 Formula One World Championship is best remembered for the epic battle between Lauda and Hunt and the six-wheeled Tyrrell, although there were other highlights of the season. For fans of American motorsport, Penske Racing needs no introduction. The iconic team is still one of the most influential in IndyCar and Nascar, but did you know that Roger Penske's team made an attempt at Formula 1 in the 1970s?
This is exactly what happened. Between 1974 and 1976 they were involved in Formula 1 as constructors. In 1974 they only entered two races, but by 1975 they had competed in 13 of the 16 races, and in the 1976 season they entered all the races, albeit with just one car driven by Northern Irishman John Watson. For this season, the team managed to sign up a capital sponsor in Citibank, so they didn't have to skimp when designing their car, christened PC3, which was naturally powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV, also made in the USA.
John Watson didn't change the world in his first four races, failing to finish three times, but when he did, he immediately scored points to finish fifth. It was obvious to all that Penske was a force to be reckoned with this year. The forthcoming Belgian Grand Prix was the fifth round of the 1976 Formula One World Championship, which was held at Zolder instead of Spa. The Northern Irish driver usually did well in qualifying, but this time he could only qualify a disappointing 17th. However, he managed to fight his way up to seventh place in the 70-lap race, which, although not worth any points, was another strong result for Watson and the Penske team.
Although the PC3 wasn't a bad car, its successor the PC4 was even better. Nothing says it better than that it was the model that won John Watson the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix. Despite a successful season, Roger Penske decided to retire from Formula 1 to concentrate solely on Indycar racing and sold his King class team to German Günter Schmid, who founded ATS Wheels, but that's another story. It is rare for a constructor to enter Formula 1, achieve success in a short period of time and then leave as quickly as he came. This time, Spark has released a 1/43rd scale car for a team who have only had a brief spell in the King's class..
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