The Whittington brothers were constantly searching for their next adrenaline fix, so naturally, they went into sports car racing. Ex-Canepa historian John Ficarra told their insane story to VINwiki, and it’s a 1970s whirlwind of drugs and other illegal stuff, rad ‘staches and duffel bags full of cash.
Two of the Whittingtons bought seats with the Kremer team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, who was running their brilliant Porsche 935 K3s in the 1979 race. Kremer was putting his main drivers in first, and the Whittingtons weren’t happy about that, as they paid a lot of money to race there.
Jokingly, Kremer said that they could go first if they buy the car for a then-insane amount of $200,000—far more than Kremer was selling the car elsewhere. The Whittingtons told them to grab not a cent more from a duffel bag in their trailer because these dudes were actually traveling with that much cash in a bag and just didn’t care.
The Whittingtons’ car won that year, becoming the last production-based car to ever win at Le Mans. They’d also done a not-so-legal mod to their fuel filler neck. But still: this thing actually won.
So, the Whittingtons told Kremer—who was soon to be bombarded for orders for the K3 for 1980—that they’d like a couple more of those K3s, and purchased it using the rest of the cash in the bag. In other words, these dudes brought about half a million dollars in cash to Le Mans.
The Whittingtons’ cash seemed to be never-ending. They eventually expanded into NASCAR and IndyCar, too, and their cars ran without many sponsors, or sometimes with sponsors that had been made up. They were also fond of bending the rules—including adding nitrous to that K3 they’d bought at Le Mans.
Where did the cash come from? Turns out, the Whittingtons also owned a for-hire plane company. They also bought Road Atlanta—which had the longest straight in the United States at the time. Supposedly, those planes would land on the race track with shipments of pot, which was hidden on-site in trailers at the track. The brothers were running drugs.
Eventually, it caught up to them and they served jail time for that, but they’re back out—and still running that plane company.
Correction [1/25/18]: Per the Le Mans annual yearbooks, Bill actually did most of the driving at their first Le Mans, which the video (and our summary of the video) downplayed significantly. Don drove the second most, having to stop to fix the car on track twice. We’ve since deleted a line that was based on that above.