Not saying the Z/28 wasn't formidable, but a how much of the success was due to the greatness of Mark Donahue? A pretty fair portion to my understanding.
Donahue was GOOD.......but I'm not sure how to "Spin" to Ford's advanatage: GM's new weapon, the Z-28 Camaro, was a very formable foe. Mark Donahue, driving a Roger Penske Camaro, won 10 of 12 races, including eight straight wins taking the '68 Trans Am trophy. The Mustang team only won two races, the first one at the 24 Hours of Sebring and the next to last one at Riverside.
Pernelli Jones was no SLOUCH and wasn't going to take a beating that bad laying down. He and his team had a few tricks up their sleeve too. Ford set them up with a much improved motor and car for '69. Ford really pulled out all the stops. The race cars shed a bunch of weight, managed a 50/50 weight distribution and they had AWESOME engines that Ford spared no expense to develop. They came up short but only slightly and had GM not imposed it's ban on racing in 1970.....I wonder if Trans
Am might not have become the big American racing series that might have become NUMBER ONE in the nation rather than NASCAR's Winston Cup. The season ended with the Boss Mustangs only giving a great showing. Mark Donahue, driving his Penske Camaro, out did the Mustangs again to win the 1969 championship. But it took Donahue winning six of the last seven races to beat Parnelli Jones and the remaining Mustangs.
Fact is back in the day Mark Donahue, Parnelli Jones, Bud Moore and other high profile drivers and teams in this series were every bit as big the "household names" as Richard Petty and other NASCAR heros were at the time.
I look back and recognize the pony cars are the only real survivors from the era because they were at their core......THAT GOOD.
The muscle cars have a special place for those of us who remember 'em but lets face it.......cars as big and heavy as Torino, Charger or Chevelle had become a monstrous, over sized heavy weight DINOSAURS that were doomed at the first whiff of higher priced gasoline.
The idea that today's NASCAR runs body shapes from front drive street cars around a track with chassis that in NO WAY even remotely resembles the name on the front bumper is a bit of a JOKE.
I'd much sooner have seen the new Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers outfitted for racing today. Even Foreign makers have cars available today that might meet the challenge well too.
Certainly we could have done better than Camary, Fusion and what-ever flavor of pathetic Chevy and Chrysler puts out now for the current stars of NASCAR to pretend they are driving each Sunday.