It looks like they underestimated Bud Moore and company...
Washington's Pacific Raceway was a 300-mile race. If a Mustang won, Ford would win the championship. If a Cougar won, Mercury would take home the marbles. It was that simple. Things got off to a dismal start for Titus when he wrecked his car in practice. It was so heavily damaged that the few useable parts on it were removed following the race and the carcass was given to a local racer. With the championship still hanging in the balance, Titus borrowed John McComb's Shelby car (#10). His team worked all night giving it the once-over but decided against replacing the still strong-sounding engine. Donohue won the race going away, but the real battle was for second - between Titus and Bucknum in Mustangs and Gurney and Parnelli Jones in Cougars. Jones' car failed to start after a pit stop on Lap 61 and Shelby's team began smiling. Titus' engine let go four laps later and the smiles turned upside down. With 70 laps remaining, Bucknum was Ford's only hope. Despite an engine on the edge of overheating, he maintained second place, with Gurney right on his tail and making up a few seconds every lap. When the checkered flag fell, Bucknum was only ahead of Gurney by 40 seconds.
Titus had left his job as editor of Sports Car Graphic to drive full-time. He was asked to write a column about the Trans-Am for Autoweek (such was the high degree of interest in the Trans-Am) and he summed up the 1967 season nicely in its October 28th issue.
"In retrospect, we started this season with a definite advantage of experience in chassis preparation but down on horsepower. This was corrected by Daytona. Chevy had the horsepower, but not the stopping or handling. By Mid-Ohio they were stopping, by Bryar they were handling and I can only assume that various foul-ups kept them from being real trouble until the last two races.
"The Cougars looked right from the start and got better. They had equal horsepower and brakes to the Mustangs immediately but it took them a few races to get the chassis working well.
"At this juncture I'd say they had kept up on their homework better than we have, though the mess of moving the entire Shelby operation from the Los Angeles Airport to the new Hawthorne plant this summer was a long and serious handicap.
"Frankly, I underestimated Bud Moore. He had to learn the road racing game and chassis set-up; and to a degree so did Fran Hernandez. [Ford's racing manager in charge of the Mercury team. -Ed.] It seemed logical to assume it would take a whole season to get the clues. Would you believe it took about two races instead? And they gave lessons to everyone as far as pitwork was concerned.
"If someone had told our Terlingua crew at the beginning of the season that we'd have to get over 30 gallons on board in 18.5 seconds or change a full set of five-lug wheels in a minute and 15 seconds, we would have said it was impossible. Yet we are doing it now with consistency, otherwise we would lose time to the Cougars.
"The weight thing got pretty funny. None of us could make our minimums in the beginning. All of us were about 35 pounds over it by summer's end. The attempts at aciddipping, sand-blasting and general carving were sights to behold. Then along came Floyd Stone with his micrometer and off came the light panels. The cars got faster, anyhow.
"Fifty or 100 pounds doesn't seem to make a damn bit of difference in performance. Certainly not worth the trouble and expense to obtain."