1972 International Fleetstar 2110A
Entering the 1972 Can-Am season, driver Mark Donohue and the Penske Racing team were busy developing the Porsche 917-10, a car that would prove to be a dominant force for Donohue and George Follmer during the 1972 season. To aid the team, Donohue designed two identical transporters for the team’s various racing efforts in Can-Am, USAC, and NASCAR.
Based on a 1972 International Fleetstar 2110A chassis, which was commonly used for school buses; Donohue designed a body that would not only protect Penske’s cars against the elements, but house spare parts, a spare engine, tools and a sleeper. The trucks were both nicknamed ‘Hilton,’ as they were occasionally used for sleeping accommodations. Bodywork was done by Trail R Van, a company that was purchased by Morgan. The body is aluminum with steel framing. Powering each truck was a 549 c.i. gas engine, providing roughly two miles-per-gallon.
Both trucks were delivered in June of 1972, white in color, with a single axle in the rear. From there, both were painted ‘Penske’ blue with white L&M logos over the rear axles. Federal highway regulation changes in 1973 meant that both trucks updated to a ‘tag’ or tandem axle, which could be raised or lowered depending on the weight in the vehicle.
1973 also saw the first color variation that separated each truck. One stayed Penske blue and was resprayed with Sunoco DX branding, while the truck that is here this weekend kept its blue cab, but had its box repainted white with red wheels for use for the team’s American Motors Corporation-backed NASCAR effort.
During Penske Racing’s ownership of this truck, cars such as the Porsche 917-10, Porsche 917-30, Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, McLaren M-16, All-American Racers Eagle-Offy, Lola T-330, AMC Matador, or Mercury Montego could be seen traveling across the country within it and it’s twin’s doors, whether it to be to a sponsor presentation, a practice day or an actual race event.
The former AMC-colored truck kept this livery until roughly 1976 when it was repainted in the Cam 2 Oil colors. It was again repainted in 1977 when the truck and a former Penske Racing Mercury Montego were sold to a 22-year-old driver from Dawsonville, Georgia by the name of Bill Elliott. ‘Awesome Bill’ used the now-light blue truck for several years before another NASCAR legend, ‘Tiger’ Tom Pistone, purchased the truck to use for up-coming drivers he ran in the Goody’s Dash Series as well as other short-track venues in the South East.
After 1989, the truck sat dormant outside of Pistone’s Charlotte-based race shop until the fall of 2004, when it was posted for sale on eBay. It took some thinking on the part of perspective buyer Rick Dresang to go ahead with the purchase of the dilapidated truck, but once it was towed home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, work began on the restoration.
Parts were scarce, but through an extensive International dealer and collector search, many new-old-stock bits were located, as well as a donor cab. Five years later, the truck debuted at the 2009 Road & Track Concours d’Elegance carrying the Sunoco Porsche-Audi colors of its sister truck from 1973, and won Best in Show at the 2010 Road & Track Concours d'Elegance.
After Team Penske debuted the restoration of their Sunoco-DX sister truck in 2016, KMPR plans on re-restoring its International back into its white colors of American Motors Corporation that it sported in 1973-1975.