He rode from 1971 to 1975 Formula 1 for McLaren - Ford and Penske - Ford. In 1972, he won the 500-mile Indianapolis in 1973 with a Porsche 917/30 Spyder the Canadian - American Challenge Cup.
Donohue was killed on August 17, 1975 with the warm-up for the Grand Prix of Austria. In the presumably caused by a defective tire accident, his car overturned several times and crashed on a billboard. Donohue initially did not seem seriously injured, but fell a day later into a coma and died of a blood clot in the brain.
Donohue's wife struggled in the U.S. to a lawsuit for damages against the tire manufacturer, which was decided in 1984 despite ambiguous evidence in favor of the widow. The feared flood of litigation because of this precedent, however, did.