Here’s the latest great cutaway by Tony Matthews, the Penske PC9 Cosworth Indy car of 1980.
Tony’s regular readers know that despite his exposure to so many great F1 cars, he retains a special spot in his heart for the CART/Indy cars of the classic turbo era. In this episode the spotlight is on the Penske PC9 Cosworth raced to great effect in 1980 by Penske Racing and drivers Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, and Mario Andretti. The feature car is in Essex livery as raced by Andretti.
In the text below, Tony refers to Penske engineer Peter Gibbons and mechanic Peter Parrott, both of whom have since enjoyed long and distinguished careers in motorsports.
Penske PC9 Cosworth
by Tony Matthews
The Penske PC9 was not my first Penske cutaway. That was the PC6, and between the two I also did the PC6B and the uncompleted PC8, but the PC9 was the cause of my first visit to the USA. The art was commissioned by David Thieme of Essex Petroleum fame, who went through a phase of liking cutaways, and for whom I did this artwork, the Essex Hospitality motor home, forerunner of all the glitz and bling that clutters most paddocks now, and the Lotus 87.
There was an initial panic to get a visa as the trip to America was of the last-minute variety, and then a flight to Philadelphia on March 13, 1980, followed by a drive to the Penske Racing shop in Reading—an impressive bit of car control by Peter Gibbons over snowy roads.
The next morning I saw the car at the Penske shop, where I was informed that Harold would take me back to Philadelphia International Airport in good time for my flight. Harold was past retirement age, but busy lining a new van with plywood, having first removed all the seats bar the driver’s. He assured me that he would be ready to go, and I spent the day photographing the PC9 in detail.
The PC9 was in the perfect state for gathering information, in more or less one piece but with its panels off, and there was no reluctance from Peter Parrot to remove the sidepods or wheels when I asked. I had a couple of hours before we were due to leave and had a brief chat with Harold. I asked him if he went to the Indy 500. “Oh no,” he said, “I stay home and watch it on the tube!”
I left him to get on with my work and did my best to just stay out of everyone’s way. Eventually the time came to leave, and I approached Harold with my bag and camera gear. “Ready?” I asked. “Oh!” said Harold, “Oh gee, I forgot!” In fact he had forgotten two things, me and the passenger’s seat.
“We’ll have to use a chair.” he said, and placed an office chair, fortunately without castors, in the front, and we set off. He drove gently, and the route was not winding or hilly, but it took a huge amount of effort to stop the chair from skidding about, and by the time we reached the airport I had legs like a speed skater. It took a long time to straighten them and climb out of the van, and anyone seeing my gait to Departures must have wondered what I’d been up to.
The scan below is not of the best quality, unfortunately. In those days the original art was delivered to the client, and not much was done in the way of copy transparencies. This image is from a 35mm Kodachrome I took before the artwork disappeared forever.
The cutaway image below is high resolution. Left-click to open and left-click again to open to full size.
Text and images copyright Tony Matthews, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Be sure to see Tony’s other great cutaways at Mac’s Motor City Garage. Links open in new windows: