Born : January 27 1934
Biography George Follmer
George Follmer was born in Phoenix on January 27, 1934. The Follmer family later moved to Los Angeles. George Follmer served in the Army following the Korean war where he was a company clerk for an intelligence outfit in Bavaria, Germany. Later Follmer resumed school to earn a business degree from Pasadena City College. At college Follmer did fairly well. At least, when his attention wasn’t drawn to the girls, as Follmer told later in an interview. Follmer delayed college until he’d served in the Army following the Korean war. He served as a company clerk for an intelligence outfit in Bavaria, Germany.
Georg Follmer’s first Porsche
In 1959 a 2 year oldPorsche 356 Speedster joined the Follmer family. With that car George Follmer competed in Porsche Club events throughout Southern California. Whenever possible, Follmer’s Speedster carried the number 16, in honor of his son Jim’s birthday. It was during these Porsche club events that George Follmer got acquainted with Tom Nuckles, the owner of the Pasadena Porsche Dealership, “Trans-Ocean Motor”. George Follmer turned out to be a talented racer. With the Porsche 356 Speedster, he won the series championship as a rookie.
George Follmer than moved up to more advanced racing cars. He competed in the Can-Am series with a Lola T-70 Mk II chassis with a Chevrolet engine. That first season his best results were a couple of 5th place finishes.
The next year, Roger Penske asked George Follmer to drive Mark Donohue‘s Camaro in a Trans-Am race, while Mark Donohue himself was racing in Le Mans. That was the start of a new successful era in George Follmer’s race career in the Trans-Am Series. Suddenly Roger Penske called for George Follmer to replace an injured Mark Donohue in the Porsche 917/10 in Road Atlanta. That was a good move, with a victory for Follmer as a result. The next race at Watkins Glenn was less successful. Follmer finished fifth, two laps down, after a blower valve spring stuck.
Ferry Porsche and his chief engineer Helmut Flegl were there along with specially invited journalists flown over for the race. Flegl was soon saying that Follmer was no good and it was suggested that Penske get another driver. Donohue kept supporting Follmer; Later Donohue admitted that he was afraid that the possible replacers of Follmer, Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti, would take his own seat too. By Mid-Ohio felt more comfortable in the Porsche and thoughts of his replacement began to subside. Donohue would return later in the season but Follmer would win the 1972 Can-Am Championship.
In 1973 George Follmer joined the new UOP Shadow F1 team for 1973 and he was sixth on his debut in South Africa. He 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, Follmer did not score again and was 13th in the world championship.
In 1976, Follmer won the 1976 Trans-Am Championship with a Porsche 934 turbo in the Vasek Polak race Team 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.
George Follmer 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.
In addition to his racing career, Follmer also owned a Porsche-Audi-Subaru dealership in Pomona, California. The dealership was later relocated to Montclair, California.
Pictures courtesy unknown.