To innovate you must first imaginate” was an unusually constructed but typically to-the-point Colin Chapman saying. One of his great rivals over many years was the American racing driver, entrepreneur, team principal and similarly self-motivating Roger Penske.
As a well-wired driver of his own cars, Penske had imagined an innovative, lightweight and effective car which would comply with contemporary 1962 regulations in US West Coast professional racing, but which would pack a winning performance advantage.
The result was his centre-seated Cooper-Climax Zerex Special – based upon a Formula 1 Cooper T53 and so named after the antifreeze being marketed by the chemical company DuPont de Nemours that the Clevelander had skilfully massaged into sponsoring his racing. Penske had already shown he could run with the best even before he appeared in the sleek little Zerex to spreadeagle all opposition in the big-time sports car classic at Riverside ’62 – leaving Jim Hall’s Chaparral, the UDT Lotus 19s of Masten Gregory and Innes Ireland, and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper Monaco in his dust. He repeated that win in the following Fall-series race at Laguna Seca.