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Reginald Donald "Don" Whittington (born January 23, 1946) is a former American racing driver from Lubbock, Texas who won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans together with his brother Bill Whittington and Klaus Ludwig on a Porsche 935, although Ludwig, a multiple winner at Le Mans and elsewhere, did most of the driving in the heavy rain. Don's brother Dale also competed in open wheel racing.
Whittington also raced in five Indianapolis 500's, with a best finish of sixth. He also made 10 NASCAR Winston Cup starts in 1980 and 1981. He earned a top-ten in the sport in his debut at Riverside. He also participated in the 1980 International Race of Champions.
In 1979 the brothers purchased and operated the Road Atlanta road-racing circuit (reportedly utilizing the secluded backstretch of the course as a landing strip for aircraft).
In 1984, Whittington co-owned, with Randy Lanier and Marty Hinze, the Blue Thunder Racing Team.
The Whittington brothers also raced aircraft at the Reno Air Races, including the highly modified P-51D "Precious Metal", which set a qualifying record of 438.018 mph (704.922 km/h) in 1976. Between 1976 and 1995, they raced four different P-51 Mustangs (including a rare H model, and a Rolls-Royce Griffon powered P-51D), an F8F Bearcat, and a P-63 King Cobra. While they never scored a victory, Don in "Precious Metal" earned three podium finishes, and was top qualifier twice.
The brothers were heavily involved in the 1970s 'warbird' movement, and participated in preservation groups like the Confederate Air Force and Valiant Air Command. They restored numerous aircraft over the years, including an FG-1D Corsair, Spanish-built HA-1112/BF-109 variant, several P-51 Mustangs, and two B-17 Flying Fortresses (including a rare B-17 E model recovered in Bolivia).
In 1986, Don Whittington plead guilty to money laundering charges in association with his brother Bill's guilty plea to income tax evasion and conspiracy to smuggle marijuana into the United States from Colombia. Don Whittington received an 18 month prison sentence. Along with Randy Lanier, John Paul Sr. and John Paul Jr., the Whittington brothers were part of the IMSA drug smuggling scandal of the 1980s, where a number of drivers financed their racing activities with the proceeds from drug smuggling
In 2009, Whittington sued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, over possession of the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Porsche 935. The car was given to the Speedway's museum in the early 1980s. Whittington claimed it was a loan and wanted to reclaim possession. The Speedway maintained it was a donation. On April 13, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit sided with the museum and found the evidence pointed to the car being a donation.
Currently, Whittington owns World Jet, a Fixed Based Operator at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.
|Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans|
1979 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Porsche 935 sold to Bruce Meyer 2012