Ken Martin

DOCTOR ROTHI AND THE AMX JAVELIN: I dislike going to the dentist. Having someone poking sharp objects into soft spots (or hard spots, for that matter) in my mouth is, at very least, extremely uncomfortable. I guess that puts me in a class with a lot of other folks.

In spite of that, personally I like my dentist, at least when he is not drilling holes in my teeth and poking into the above mentioned soft spots. But this column is not about a trip to the local dentist.

Doctor Steven Rothi, DDS, a Castro Valley dentist and resident (and our family dentist), is a very likeable person. He is an excellent dentist and a very pleasant person to be around. But this column is not about Doctor Rothi, the dentist, either. It is about an interesting and unusual automobile that Doctor Rothi owns.

Doctor Rothi’s special car is a beautiful 1972 American Motors AMX Javelin. This is the same model of car that was driven to the Trans-American Sedan Championship in 1971 by Mark Donohue and in 1972 by George Follmer.

What makes Steven Rothi’s car somewhat unique is that it came out of production with some of the same equipment that was on the racing version, most notably a front air dam, rear spoiler, and the 330 horsepower, 401 cubic inch road version of the engine that was the basis of the competition engines. Only a limited number of cars with this equipment combination were built. Because it had these items that gave it a very close similarity to the racing Javelins, the doctor bought it four years ago with the intention of painting it in the 1971 and 1972 Penske racing livery of blue, white, and red, a color scheme it sports today.

Dr. Rothi is not a particular fan of contemporary automobile racing. He does, however, have a great interest in the Trans-Am series of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, an era when cars built by American Motors, a company known more for its family cars than for its racing prowess, dominated this area of the sport while competing with other prominent “Muscle Cars” of the time. He is also a great fan of race driver Mark Donohue.

Mark Donohue was a very versatile race car driver that was successful in just about any type of car he raced. He won a race in NASCAR’s Winston West division (in an American Motors Matador), won two Trans-Am championships, won two SCCA Road Racing Championships, and the Indianapolis 500 in 1972. He also has several other auto racing accomplishments to his credit, most of which were achieved in a relatively short 15 year period. He had just moved on to Formula One racing when he lost his life in 1975 while practicing for the Austrian Grand Prix.

George Follmer’s versatility was equal to that of Donohue. Follmer drove Indianapolis cars, NASCAR, Formula One, SCCA, Canadian-American Challenge, Trans-Am, and other venues with a great deal of success. In 1967 and 1968, he was Mark Donohue’s team mate in Trans-Am and runner-up to Donohue in 1968 when Donohue won his first championship in that series (driving a Chevrolet Camaro Z28). Follmer drove in competition until 1983, when he moved into an advisory capacity for other teams. He is still involved in automobile racing today.

The racing paint scheme on Steven Rothi’s AMX Javelin is a tribute to these great drivers.

The Javelin doesn’t live alone in Rothi’s garage. Its room mates are a 1963 Corvette and a 1969 Camaro. This is a very interesting garage for car enthusiasts.


I like cars, too, so Side Trips is occasionally going to be about cars. I have some special cars of my own which someday may be the subjects of a write-up here.

I’ve always been a car person. I drove hard-tops (early model stock cars) and midget race cars on the dirt tracks of California, Oregon, and Nevada myself back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s and am a life-long fan of automobile racing, starting in the ‘30’s while attending now long-gone venues with my Dad like Neptune Speedway in Alameda and the original Oakland Mile in San Leandro. Like Willie Nelson with his cowboys, my heroes have always been race drivers. Still are, it seems.

“CV Side Trips” can be contacted at martinken@juno.com or (510) 727-9296. “Trips” is always looking for interesting Castro Valley items.