This Sunday, October, the classic dark blue Sunoco Chevy Camaro will race once again. What's more, the car will be piloted by drivers with rather appropriate last names: Donohue and Bucknum. Suddenly, it's 1969 all over again. Perhaps coolest of all, though, is that Chevrolet's revived pony will be lining up against its most classic nemeses, Ford's Mustang and Dodge's Challenger (yes, we know the original Mopar didn't hit the scene until 1970).
The retro racing action will take place during final round of the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season at Virginia International Raceway. Though the Bill Riley-built Camaro will be completed with barely enough time for a few shakedown runs ahead of the actual competition, David Donohue and Jeff Bucknum are both satisfied that it will be competitive. We look forward to watching the battle lines play out during the 2010 season. Hit the jump for the official press release, which includes plenty of commentary from the two drivers.
[Sources: Grand-Am Road Racing, Camaro5.com]
Stevenson Motorsports To Debut Retro Sunoco Camaro At VIR
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 10, 2009) - In 1969, Roger Penske, Mark Donohue and Ronnie Bucknum teamed up to bring home the SCCA Trans-Am Championship for Chevrolet. They drove 1969 Camaros that year, with the dark blue cars sponsored by Sunoco. This year, exactly 40 years after that championship season, another pair of drivers named Donohue and Bucknum will once again race in a Camaro wearing Sunoco blue colors.
David Donohue is the son of Mark Donohue. Jeff Bucknum is the son of Ronnie Bucknum. Both sons have well established credentials in the world of racing and, at the Oct. 4 final round of the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season, they will join forces at the wheel of a brand new Camaro, built by Riley Technologies of Mooresville, N.C.
With a paint scheme created by ESBG Designs, the new Camaro will look very much like the 1969 model, which is as Chevrolet intended with the introduction of their new street version of the car.
Just as the fans will be excited to see the new Sunoco Camaro on track, Jeff Bucknum is already excited to be involved with this project, as well as being with David Donohue, team manager Mike Johnson and the whole Stevenson Motorsports organization.
"I am so excited to be a part of a program that brings so much history together in today's sports car racing," Bucknum said. "I have enjoyed working on setting up this program not only for personal reasons but also for the chance to get to know David Donohue. Although David and I have raced in the same circles for many years, and knew of each other, we never got to know each other. I now can say David is one of the true genuine nice guys in the racing industry and it's been my pleasure to work with him on getting this program going.
"To finally get the chance to have this program come together to race with David as my teammate is awesome. I really want to thank Johnny Stevenson and Mike Johnson for keeping the faith on getting this program off the ground as we have all been working on this for a long time!"
Johnson is the team manager for the No. 57 Stevenson Pontiac GXP.R that races in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT class. Johnson will head up the KONI effort as well, with the same professional crew members working with him to get the most out of the new Riley chassis.
"The '69 Sunoco-Camaro is one of the most recognized race cars in the world and to be a part of its return is truly special," Johnson said. "Having Donohue and Bucknum behind the wheel is really a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think the fans new and old are going to really appreciate this effort."
David Donohue has never been one to trade on his famous father's name, preferring to put together a resume built on his own talents. He has succeeded in doing just that with his most recent triumph coming at Daytona with his win in Rolex 24 At Daytona, driving a Brumos Porsche Riley prototype.
For this unique opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of the Sunoco Camaro, Donohue has let himself embrace the idea of following in his father's footsteps.
"We are excited to have Sunoco on board with us," Donohue said, "and, for the first time in my career I am more comfortable with playing off my dad's reputation than I have ever been in the past. When I first started driving I really didn't understand my place or his place in racing or how his reputation might affect mine, or vice versa. Over time I have come to be more comfortable with my own abilities and accomplishments, and if I am a flop in this, I won't see it as a reflection on my father's record. All I can do is go out and do the best job I can and I am okay with that."
Donohue and Bucknum share an enthusiasm for working with the Stevenson Motorsports team, and this collaboration also marks the first time they have shared driving duties together.
"I think this experience is going to be a lot of fun," Donohue said. "I think Johnny Stevenson and his team have done a fantastic job in the Rolex Series. He has a great crew and I am looking forward to working with all of them. Johnny has always struck me as one of the 'good guys' in the paddock and someone who is sincere. I'm also excited for Jeff to see this finally come to be reality after putting so much effort into making it happen."
Added Bucknum: "I think Mike Johnson is currently the best race strategist in sports car racing! All you had to do was watch the Montreal Grand-Am race this last weekend to see him magically make the right call again to position the Stevenson Motorsports team for the win!"
Winning takes practice combined with experience and more than a dash of good fortune. To try and align these elements in a winning pattern, the team has scheduled a shakedown session at Kershaw on Sept. 28, a week before the VIR race.
"I think the new car looks fantastic and I have driven the street car already," Donohue said. "I am looking forward to the race version, especially since it is being built by Bill Riley. He is pretty efficient in the way he puts things together and he will be with us at VIR for track support. Unfortunately the car will only be ready very close to race day which means we will really be shaking the car down in the public eye. That can easily backfire on us but we need to get it out there this year. I think it is an ambitious goal but an admirable one."
Added Bucknum: "It's going to be very interesting for us to debut this car at the last race of the year in the KONI series. I believe we have all the right pieces in place to be a winning effort with a winning team like Stevenson Motorsports, a great crew of guys and a great driver lineup with David and myself. The only factor now is seeing how well the car will perform right out of the box. I know the Camaro will be a winner, but it's always hard to say in racing how a car will perform in its debut race.
"I am really happy we are getting a chance to test the Camaro at Kershaw before the debut race at VIR for the Camaro," Bucknum concluded. "It's always nice to have a chance to get even a few laps around a race track with a new car just to make sure all the components are working properly before you drive it in anger. I have no doubt that between Riley technologies and the Stevenson Motorsports team we will be able to get the Camaro dialed in quickly."
The Grand-Am KONI Challenge Bosch Engineering Octoberfest race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) will take place on Sunday, Oct. 4.
More information about the Stevenson Motorsports team, and the new Stevenson performance shop, can be found at www.stevensonmotorsports.com. For more information on the Grand-Am KONI Challenge, go to www.grand-am.com.