Sam Posey with the president of Porsche N.A. in 2001. (LAT photo)
Many happy returns to Sam Posey, erudite racer who became a ground-breaking racing color commentator for TV, who turns 68 today.
The New York native started as an amateur sports car racer, and moved on to the Can-Am and Trans-Am series. In 1968, the 24-year-old Posey ranthe Sunoco Camaro for Roger Penske in 1968 in Trans-Am series as teammate to Mark Donohue, who won 10 of 13 races. Two years later, Posey was the driver for Ray Caldwell's factory-backed Autodynamics Dodge Challenger in Trans-Am, racing against Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, Mark Donohue and Jim Hall in what most racing historians regard as the greatest season of professional road racing in US. history.
Posey also raced IndyCars in 1969 and again from 1972-74 seasons, with 13 career starts, including the 1972 Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top 10 eight times, with his best finish a third position in 1969.
As an endurance racer, Posey appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 10 times (1966, 1969–1973, and 1975–1978) and finished in the top 10 five times. His best finish was 3rd position during the 1971 competition in which he drove the Ferrari 512M. He also won the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring, teaming with three other drivers.
He participated in two Formula 1 World Championship events – the 1971 and '72 United States Grand Prix, driving for Surtees, but retired on both occasions.
Following his retirement as a driver, Posey became one of the first "celebrity racer" TV analysts on American television for ABC and Speedvision, the forerunner of today's SPEED channel. His thoughtful analyses formed an effective counter to the banter of fellow IndyCar announcers Paul Page and Bobby Unser in the 1980s and '90s, and ABC brought Posey onto its announcing team for the Olympic Games and Tour de France as well.
Although Parkinson's Disease has slowed his broadcasting efforts in recent years, Posey has contributed voiceovers to SPEED's Formula 1 pre-race shows, as well as the channel's Formula 1 Debrief recap shows.