Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

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Lot 289

1968 AAR Eagle USAC Indianapolis

  • Chassis no. 406

$350,000 - $400,000


Est. 525 bhp, 320 cu. in. Traco-Chevrolet V-8 engine, Hewland manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension with adjustable coil-overs and double wishbones, and four-wheel ventilated hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96 in.

  • Bought new by Roger Penske in 1968
  • Raced by Donahue in the 1968 Rex Mays 300 at Riverside
  • Described in Donahue’s book The Unfair Advantage
  • Thoroughly researched and restored by the owner
  • Shown at the 2005 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance; Amelia Award winner
  • Featured in Victory Lane, November 2016


This Pen-Can Sunoco Eagle helped to pioneer the Chevrolet small-block racing engine. Built by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers, chassis number 406 was originally purchased by Roger Penske for use by Mark Donohue as their first USAC Indy car in 1968. Their first competitive outing was the Telegraph Trophy race at Mosport on 15 June 1968. Stiff competition included A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Bobby and Al Unser, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, and Graham Hill, as well as the eventual race-winner Dan Gurney. After two 40-lap heats, Donahue placed 5th overall, an exceptional finish considering it was his first time out in the car.

The second race was at the Rex Mays 300 at the Riverside International Raceway in California. Unfortunately for Donahue, though fighting in a heated battle for the lead against Dan Gurney, he would not finish the race. Donahue’s final outing in chassis number 406 was at a test session for Goodyear Tires held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In early 1969, Richard Oeffinger, representing Sid Weinberger of Weinberger Homes, bought the Eagle directly from Roger Penske for use by Ron Bucknum. Fitted with an Offenhauser engine, the car would qualify 16th at that year’s Indianapolis 500, but ultimately DNF due to a burned piston, and would place 26th overall. A Chevy engine would be reinstalled and the car was entered at Phoenix, though it would not qualify. The third and last race for Bucknum was at Riverside where, after running as high as 4th, the car did not finish because of a loose hose clamp.

In 1970 the car was sold to Arnie Knepper, who campaigned the car in the 1971 season. Arnie would compete in most of the USAC races, including Indianapolis. The Eagle was finally sold to Precision Racing (owned by the LaWarre family), repowered with Chevrolet engines, and raced in the 1974 and 1975 seasons. Chassis number 406 was handled by Larry Rice that first year and then by John Hubbard for the balance of 1974 and 1975. Thereafter, the Eagle was relegated to the back of LaWarre’s shop in Florida, where it would remain until 1999.

By happenstance, the current owner discovered the car sitting in LaWarre’s shop while he was looking to acquire a Busch NASCAR that was being offered for sale. Coming to an agreement to buy both cars, he wheeled them out of the shop and began his yearlong research project to restore the Eagle. First, he tracked down a correct Traco-built engine block, and after an extensive search found the correct intake manifold to complete the engine restoration to the same specification it had raced at Riverside in 1968. The engine was built by J&J Balancing and is reported to produce 525.4 horsepower and 450.5 foot-pounds of torque (the engine was subsequently pickled for display).

The chassis was stripped down and repainted period-correct Sonoco Blue with yellow stripes; even the numbers and lettering were hand-painted. The suspension and brake components were reconditioned and rebuilt, while the gearbox was reconfigured to road-racing specification. Everything was essentially restored, repaired, or remade as needed, including a new windshield.

After the comprehensive restoration was completed in late 2004, the Donahue Eagle was presented at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2005 to great acclaim. There, as judged by Brock Yates, Bobby Rahal, and Bobby Unser, the car was presented with a prestigious Amelia Award, capping off a multi-year restoration and research project by the consignor.

An exceptional AAR Eagle and pioneer in Chevrolet racing engines, this car would be a superb addition to any racing paddock or enthusiast’s collection.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more