Don Whittington

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Don Whittington
Porsche935Whittington.jpg
Whittington's 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning car
Nationality American
BornReginald Donald Whittington
(1946-01-23) January 23, 1946 (age 72)
Lubbock, Texas
Champ Car career
9 races run over 5 years
Years active19791980, 19821983, 1985
Team(s)No. 91 (Whittington Bros. Racing)
No. 20 (Patrick Racing)
Best finish48th (1980)
First race1979 California 500 (Ontario)
Last race1985 Dana 150 (Phoenix)
Wins Podiums Poles
0 0 0
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years19781981
TeamsWhittington Bros. Racing, Kremer Racing
Best finish1st (1979)
Class wins1 (1979)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
10 races run over 2 years
Best finish46th (1980)
First race1980 Winston Western 500 (Riverside)
Last race1981 Winston Western 500 (Riverside)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0

Reginald Donald "Don" Whittington,[1] Jr. (born January 23, 1946) is an American former racing driver from Lubbock, Texas, who won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans together with his brother Bill Whittington and Klaus Ludwig on a Porsche 935, although Ludwig, a multiple winner at Le Mans and elsewhere, did most of the driving in the heavy rain as the brothers did not have any real racing experience prior to the late 1970s.[2] Don's brother Dale also competed in open wheel racing. His father, Don Whittington, Sr. was also an American racing driver in the USAC National Championship from 1957 to 1959.

Racing career[edit]

Whittington also raced in five Indianapolis 500's, with a best finish of sixth. He also made ten NASCAR Winston Cup starts in 1980 and 1981. He earned a top-ten in the sport in his debut at Riverside. He also participated in the 1980 International Race of Champions.

In 1979 the brothers purchased and operated the Road Atlanta road-racing circuit, reportedly utilizing the secluded backstretch of the course as a landing strip for aircraft.

In 1984, Don's brother Bill co-owned, with Randy Lanier and Marty Hinze, the Blue Thunder Racing Team. Don raced for the team on occasion.

The Whittington brothers also raced aircraft at the Reno Air Races, including the highly modified P-51D "Precious Metal", which set a qualifying record of 438.018 mph (704.922 km/h) in 1976. Between 1976 and 1995, they raced four different P-51 Mustangs (including a rare H model and a Rolls-Royce Griffon powered P-51D), an F8F Bearcat and a P-63 King Cobra. While they never scored a victory, Don in "Precious Metal" earned three podium finishes and was top qualifier twice.

The brothers were heavily involved in the 1970s 'warbird' movement, and participated in preservation groups like the Confederate Air Force and Valiant Air Command. They restored numerous aircraft over the years, including an FG-1D Corsair, Spanish-built HA-1112 / BF-109 variant, several P-51 Mustangs, and two B-17 Flying Fortresses (including a rare B-17E model recovered in Bolivia).

In 1986, Don Whittington pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in association with his brother Bill's guilty plea to income tax evasion and conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Colombia. Don Whittington received an 18-month prison sentence.[3] Along with Randy Lanier, John Paul Sr. and John Paul Jr., the Whittington brothers were part of the IMSA drug smuggling scandal of the 1980s, where a number of drivers financed their racing activities with the proceeds from drug smuggling[4]

In 2009, Whittington sued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, over possession of the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Porsche 935. The car was given to the Speedway's museum in the early 1980s. Whittington claimed it was a loan and wanted to reclaim possession. The Speedway maintained it was a donation. On April 13, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit sided with the museum and found the evidence pointed to the car being a donation.[5]

Currently, Whittington owns World Jet, a Fixed Based Operator at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.[6]

Motorsports career results[edit]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1978 United States Whittington Bros. Racing United States Bill Whittington
Austria Franz Konrad
Porsche 935/77A Gr.5+2.0 41 DNF DNF
1979 Germany Kremer Racing United States Bill Whittington
Germany Klaus Ludwig
Porsche 935 K3 Gr.5+2.0 307 1st 1st
1980 United States Whittington Bros. Racing United States Dale Whittington
United States Hurley Haywood
Porsche 935 K3 IMSA 151 DNF DNF
1981 Germany Kremer Racing United States Ted Field
United States Bill Whittington
Porsche 935 K3/81 Gr. 5 57 DNF DNF

American open-wheel racing[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

CART PPG Indy Car World Series[edit]

CART PPG Indy Car World Series results
Year Team Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pos. Pts
1979 Team McLaren McLaren M24B Cosworth DFX V8t PHX ATL ATL INDY TRE TRE MCH MCH WGL TRE ONT
8
MCH ATL PHX NC 0
1980 Whittington Racing Penske PC-7 Cosworth DFX V8t ONT INDY
13
MIL POC MDO MCH WGL MIL ONT MCH MEX PHX 47th 25
1982 Whittington Racing March 81C Cosworth DFX V8t PHX ATL MIL CLE MCH
26
MIL POC RIV ROA MCH PHX NC 0
1983 Whittington Racing March 83C Cosworth DFX V8t ATL INDY
27
MIL CLE MCH
20
ROA POC
33
RIV MDO MCH CPL LAG PHX NC 0
1985 Patrick Racing March 85C Cosworth DFX V8t LBH INDY
24
MIL
DNQ
POR MEA CLE MCH
20
ROA POC MDO SAN MCH LAG PHX
24
MIA NC 0
Indianapolis 500[edit]
Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1980 Penske Cosworth 18 13 Whittington Racing
1981 March Cosworth 26 31 Whittington Racing
1982 March Cosworth 8 6 Whittington Racing
1983 March Cosworth 27 27 Whittington Racing
1985 March Cosworth 6 24 Patrick Racing

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series[edit]

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 NWCC Pts Ref
1980 DiGard Motorsports 55 Chevy RSD
9
DAY
DNQ
RCH CAR 41st 67 [7]
Hamby Motorsports 17 Chevy DAY
16
A. J. Foyt Enterprises 51 Olds ATL
38
BRI DAR NWS MAR
Whittington Bros. Racing TAL
34
NSV DOV CLT TWS
64 Chevy RSD
35
MCH
93 Olds DAY
22
NSV POC TAL MCH BRI
Smith Racing Chevy DAR
38
RCH DOV NWS MAR CLT CAR ATL ONT
1981 RSD
14
54th 300 [8]
Olds DAY
14
RCH CAR ATL BRI NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT TWS RSD MCH DAY NSV POC TAL MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR ATL RSD
35
Daytona 500[edit]
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
1980 DiGard Motorsports Chevy DNQ
Hamby Motorsports Chevy 23 16
1981 Smith Racing Oldsmobile 13 14

Winston West Series[edit]

NASCAR Winston West Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 NWWC Pts Ref
1980 DiGard Motorsports 55 Chevy RSD
9
ONT S99 RSD LAG EVG POR SON MMR ONT PHO NA - [9]

International Race of Champions[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position. * – Most laps led.)

International Race of Champions results
Season Make Q1 Q2 Q3 1 2 Pos. Pts Ref
1979–80 Chevy MCH MCH RSD
3
RSD
12
ATL
5
8th 15 [10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Judge: IMS Hall of Fame can keep donated car
  2. ^ http://www.maxim.com/cars/racing/article/untold-story-randy-lanier-indy-500-star-and-drug-smuggler
  3. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE; Whittingtons Sentenced, New York Times, January 6, 1987, Retrieved 2011-05-25
  4. ^ Siano, Joseph. Auto Racing; Paul Returns From Prison, New York Times, February 5, 1989, Retrieved 2011-05-25
  5. ^ "WHITTINGTON v. INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FOUNDATION, INC". Leagle.com. April 13, 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  6. ^ Where are they now?: Shadow figures AutoWeek, December 31, 2008
  7. ^ "Don Whittington – 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  8. ^ "Don Whittington – 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  9. ^ "Don Whittington – 1980 NASCAR Winston West Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  10. ^ "Don Whittington – 1980 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
Didier Pironi
Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1979 with:
Klaus Ludwig
Bill Whittington
Succeeded by
Jean Rondeau
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud