Penske PC3 car-by-car histories
After the failure of the Penske PC1, Penske copied the March 751 to produce the Penske PC3 and to continue learning about F1. It was only used for six Grands Prix before being replaced by the Penske PC4.
Roger Penske had bought the March 751 to learn more about F1 construction, so it was no surprise when Geoff Ferris designed a new Penske PC3 that looked very similar to the March. The team had hired John Watson for the rest of the season, and the Ulsterman gave the PC3 its first tests at Goodwood on 11 September and at Silverstone the following day. Despite the familiar looks, everything on the PC3 had been built by Penske at the Poole workshops, with the sole exception of the front uprights.
After its tests in England, the prototype was shipped to the States for further testing before the United States GP on the first weekend of October. The hard work seemed to be paying off when Watson ended each of the first two sessions with the seventh quickest time, but the opposition caught up when the Penske suffered electrical gremlins, and his final grid position should have been twelfth. When the gremlins got worse, Watson was forced to start from the back of the grid in an old PC1. Watson used the new PC3/02 in Brazil at the start of 1976 but returned to PC3/01 for the South African GP after preferring its handling. The team tried plastic skirts in practice for this race, but they were banned from using them for the race. Watson, who had been very quick in testing at Kyalami, qualified third but started very badly and could only recover to fifth at the finish. At the team's "home" race at Long Beach, Watson hit Laffite's Ligier at the start and had two long pit stops. After racing the newer car in Spain, Watson used the older PC3/01 at Zolder, but the team had now slipped back to a qualifying position on the ninth row. Watson ran well in the race and pulled up to finish seventh. A new chisel nose that had been tried in practice in Belgium was used in the race at Monaco. Watson did well to qualify in the PC3 but struggled in the race and could only finish tenth. Ferris's new Penske PC4 was now ready to race, and the PC3s could be retired.
(6 Mar 1976)
(25 Jan 1976)
Both Penske PC3s were bought by Hexagon of Highgate owner Paul Michaels in July 1976, and chassis PC3/02 was hired out to F&S Properties for Boy Hayje to use at the Dutch Grand Prix. The very next day it was raced in the ShellSPORT Group 8 race at Brands Hatch by Damien Magee. Derek Bell also raced it for Hexagon that season. Hexagon retained the Penske for Bell and others to drive in the Group 8 series in 1977, and Bell won a race at Oulton Park on Good Friday. Meanwhile, Michaels had sold PC3/01 to Danish driver Jac Nellemann, but his plans to appear in GPs in 1977 fell through. The car remained in his roof space, right next to the central heating ducts, until 1987. This car was the first to enter historic racing, winning at Snetterton in October 1989 in Mike Wilds' hands. Its sister car joined it by 1994, and both cars then appeared regularly in historic racing, even appearing together at Monaco in 2012.
These histories last updated on .