Reginald Donald Whittington (born January 23, 1946) is an American former racing driver from Lubbock, Texas, who won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans together with his brother Bill Whittington and Klaus Ludwig in a Porsche 935, although Ludwig, a multiple winner at Le Mans and elsewhere, did most of the driving in the heavy rain as the brothers did not have any real racing experience prior to the late 1970s. Don's brother Dale also competed in open wheel racing. His father, Don Whittington, Sr. was also an American racing driver in the USAC National Championship from 1957 to 1959.
Whittington also raced in five Indianapolis 500s, with a best finish of sixth. He also made ten 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.
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-51XR), 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, HA-1112 (Spanish-built Bf 109), several P-51 Mustangs, and two B-17 Flying Fortresses (including a rare B-17E recovered in Bolivia).
In 1986, Don Whittington pleaded 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.
Motorsports career results
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
|1978||Whittington Bros. Racing|| Bill Whittington
|1979||Kremer Racing|| Bill Whittington
|Porsche 935 K3||Gr.5+2.0||307||1st||1st|
|1980||Whittington Bros. Racing|| Dale Whittington
|Porsche 935 K3||IMSA||151||DNF||DNF|
|1981||Kremer Racing|| Ted Field
|Porsche 935 K3/81||Gr. 5||57||DNF||DNF|
American open-wheel racing
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
CART PPG Indy Car World Series
|CART PPG Indy Car World Series results|
|1979||Team McLaren||McLaren M24B||Cosworth DFX V8t||PHX||ATL||ATL||INDY||TRE||TRE||MCH||MCH||WGL||TRE||ONT
|1980||Whittington Racing||Penske PC-7||Cosworth DFX V8t||ONT||INDY
|1982||Whittington Racing||March 81C||Cosworth DFX V8t||PHX||ATL||MIL||CLE||MCH
|1983||Whittington Racing||March 83C||Cosworth DFX V8t||ATL||INDY
|1985||Patrick Racing||March 85C||Cosworth DFX V8t||LBH||INDY
(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Winston Cup Series
|NASCAR Winston Cup Series results|
|A. J. Foyt Enterprises||51||Olds||ATL
|Whittington Bros. Racing||TAL
Winston West Series
|NASCAR Winston West Series results|
International Race of Champions
(key) (Bold – Pole position. * – Most laps led.)
|International Race of Champions results|
- Judge: IMS Hall of Fame can keep donated car
- "The Untold Story of Randy Lanier, Indy 500 Star and Drug Smuggler - Maxim".
- SPORTS PEOPLE; Whittingtons Sentenced, New York Times, January 6, 1987, Retrieved 2011-05-25
- Siano, Joseph. Auto Racing; Paul Returns From Prison, New York Times, February 5, 1989, Retrieved 2011-05-25
- "WHITTINGTON v. INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FOUNDATION, INC". Leagle.com. April 13, 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- Where are they now?: Shadow figures Archived 2011-06-28 at the Wayback Machine AutoWeek, December 31, 2008
- "Don Whittington – 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "Don Whittington – 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "Don Whittington – 1980 NASCAR Winston West Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "Don Whittington – 1980 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 25, 2018.