AMC's Javelins

NASCAR and Other Racing Programs

In addition to factory support for the Javelin's participation in the SCCA Trans-Am road racing series, AMC was also very active in NASCAR stock car racing. Jim Paschal was fairly successful in campaigning a Javelin in the 1969-1971 NASCAR Grand Touring/Grand American series, competing against Mustangs and Camaros on the traditional NASCAR bank ovals. Then, in 1972, AMC decided to team up with Roger Penske to field an AMC Matador in the NASCAR "big leagues" - the Grand National (now called the Winston Cup) series.

1969 NASCAR Javelin
Jim Paschal's 1969 NASCAR Javelin

Although drivers Mark Donahue and Dave Marcis finished four NASCAR races in 1972, it wasn't until the Riverside 500 in January 1973 that the Matador and Donahue visited NASCAR's victory lane for the first time. Penske fielded a completely redesigned and streamlined Matador in 1974 and 1975, with first Gary Bettenhausen and later Bobby Allison doing most of the driving. Allison won the L.A. Times 500 at Ontario, CA in 1974 and won three more races in 1975, before the program was terminated after the first race of 1976. Allison then fiield his own AMC Matador in the NASCAR Grand National races in 1977, but with less success than Penske had earlier enjoyed. However, Allison did win two USAC stock car races in his Matador in 1978.

1974 Matador
Bobby Allison's 1974 NASCAR Matador

In 1974, Penske fielded an AMC-powered Lola in the SCCA Formula 5000 series, but the best finish was Mark Donahue's 6th place at Riverside. AMC-powered cars also competed in the 1976 through 1979 Indianapolis 500s, with mid-field finishes. In off-road racing, AMC sponsored Gene Henderson's Jeep Cherokee in the SCCA Pro-Rally series, winning four rallies and placing 2nd in three more, to capture the championship. A variety of AMC cars, including AMXs, Gremlins, and Hornets, have over the years also made a mark on professional drag racing, with one of the most noted competitors being Shirley Shahan and her "Drag-on Lady" 1969 AMX dragster.

1978 Eagle-AMC
Roger McCluskey's 1978 Eagle-AMC Indy car

During the years 1971 to 1981, AMC Gremlins, Hornets, Pacers, and Spirits competed in the IMSA Goodrich Radial Challenges series for compact sedans. Among the more prominent drivers in this series were Amos Johnson and Dennis Shaw, who were among AMC drivers who consistently finished in the top-5 in the Drivers Championship. Changes in the IMSA rules, which favored front-wheel drive cars, finally ended American Motors Corporation's last direct involvement in auto racing. Soon after, the company was bought out by Chrysler Motors, becoming that manufacturer's Jeep/Eagle Division.

The AMX 2
The AMX 2, which never was

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Last Updated: January 1, 2003