George Follmer

Born:
27th January 1934 (Age 85)
Phoenix, Arizona
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Unlike many of his compatriots George Follmer was always happiest on a road course. His versatility is illustrated by a career that included Formula 1, Indycars, NASCAR, sports cars, Can-Am, Trans-Am and that lasted for three decades.

Professional racing driver

It was in 1960 that this tough and no nonsense Arizonan first raced and he won the California Sports Car Club’s Rookie of the Year award. Previously working in insurance, Follmer turned professional in 1965 and promptly won that year’s United States Road Race Championship when his Lotus 23-Porsche beat more powerful rivals.

His Indycar debut followed in 1967 and Follmer’s Cheetah-Chevrolet won the opening round of the 1969 series after Bobby Unser retired. That season also included his first Trans-Am victories and he would win the title twice during the 1970s.

The 1970 season began with a couple of victories in the North American Formula 5000 Championship in a Lotus-Ford and he became the only driver to win both Trans-Am and Can-Am titles during a triumphant 1972 season. That was with Roy Woods’ AMC Javelin in the former and deputising for the injured Mark Donohue in Roger Penske’s Can-Am Porsche 917/10.

Formula 1 with Shadow

Despite that triumph his next move was a surprise. The 39 year old joined the new UOP Shadow F1 team for 1973 and he was sixth on his debut in South Africa. Follmer then withstood pressure from François Cevert to finish third in Spain in only his second Grand Prix. A points scorer in his first two GP starts, he did not score again and was 13th in the world championship.

Further career in America

Runner-up as well in that year’s Can-Am standings, his Bud Moore RC Cola Ford was a regular top-five finisher in IMSA races. Follmer began 1974 in Moore’s NASCAR Ford and fourth at Atlanta was one of five top-10 finishes. He qualified Roger Penske’s Matador on pole position at Riverside in June but then returned to UOP Shadow and Can-Am.

He won the 1976 Trans-Am Championship with a Porsche 934 turbo but was seriously injured practising a Can-Am Prophet-Chevrolet at Laguna Seca two years later. A broken leg and internal injuries appeared to have ended his career although he recovered sufficiently to return to Trans-Am during 1979. He scored a final victory at Laguna Seca two years later.

He raced in the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours – 20 years after his only other appearance in the race. Follmer shared the third placed Joest Porsche 956B with John Morton and Kenper Miller in what was his last major race.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1987 Winston Cup 75th 163
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Joest Racing
2 0 1 0 26th 18
1986 Winston Cup 81st 164
1981 World Endurance Championship 1 0 0 0 262nd 9
1978 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Vasek Polak
1 0 1 1 0
1978 SCCA Citicorp Can-Am Challenge
US Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1978 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1977 World Championship of Makes
Vasek Polak
3 0 1 0 15
1976 World Championship of Sportscars
Herb Kaplan
1 0 1 0 0
1976 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1976 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship 0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1976 Trans-Am Series 1st -
1975 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Lance Smith
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 Winston Cup Grand National 87th 167
1975 USAC National Championship
American Kids Racers
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1973 F1 World Championship
UOP Shadow Racing Team
12 (1) 0 1 0
0% win rate
13th 5
1973 World Championship of Makes
Penske Racing
1 0 0 0 6
1973 Can-Am Challenge
Rinzler Motor Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1972 Trans-Am Series 1st -
1972 SCCA L&M Continental F5000 Championship
Roy Woods Racing
7 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
25th 3
1972 Can-Am Challenge
Penske Racing
5 0 5 5 1st 0
1971 USAC National Championship
Grant King Racers
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1970 SCCA Formula A Continental Championship
O'Neil Racing
6 0 4 2
34% win rate
6th 71
1970 USAC National Championship
Dayton-Walther
Andy Granatelli
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1969 USAC National Championship
George Follmer Enterprises
Andy Granatelli
11 0 2 1
10% win rate
16th 880
1968 USAC National Championship
George R Bryant
George Follmer Enterprises
6 0 0 0
0% win rate
32nd 240
1967 USAC National Championship
Vollstedt Enterprises
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
27th 240
1966 International Championship of Makes
North American Racing Team
1 0 0 0 0
1965 United States Road Racing Championship 1st -