Daytona Continental 24-hour Race
Daytona Beach, 5th February 1967: When Ford won the Manufacturers Championship last year it was achieved with a very diminished opposition from the chief rival, Ferrari, and now at the first race of 1967 they were defending their position for the championship and, for this race, their I, 2, 3 victory of last year. That the Italian team were taking this year very seriously became obvious when they sent a new 330 P4 and their four drivers testing round the 3.81 mile Road & Track Daytona Speedway iust before Christmas. Immediately following these very successful tests the Ford team turned up to put their cars through a series of elaborate tests. The results of the latter’s tests are sketchy as they threw a security net around the whole place and even NASCAR President, Bill France, owner of the Speedway, had difficulty getting in.
Several days were set aside for training with Thursday as qualifying day. The Ford team consisted of six Mk. II Fords entered by Shelby America and Holman & Moody. Each car was painted a different colour for quick identification. The Mk. II’s have undergone certain improvements at the expense of weight. Into the cockpit area there is now a roll frame of heavy construction. The instrument panel has been ergonomically improved and by the side of the driver is a large fixed gas extinguisher which is designed to keep fire out of the cockpit long enough for a driver to be rescued in the event of an accident. The oil tank which used to be in the forward compartment has been moved to the rear and now lies on the left of the engine. Other than moving some of the weight to the back this also gets rid of a lot of heat from the front.
The 7-litre engines are producing more power and they now have two four-barrel downdraught carburetters. The extra power which brings the total to over 500 b.h.p. is needed to push the extra 200 lb. plus along. The Shelby cars have had the high rear airscoops to the brakes removed, and to overcome the increased ” g ” on the banking two ideas were used to stop the cars bottoming. On the Shelby cars a lug on the centre of the anti-roll bar pressed on a stop when the car was well down on the springs—this stiffened the last inch of movement. Holman & Moody had a similar idea but they had an extra connection on the right rear wheel and a short torsion rod to the centre stop. This had the effect of leaving the anti-roll bar to function normally while the other bar only came into use when the right suspension was almost on the stop. One other slight difference in the cars was one car from each team had Mercury written on the side instead of Ford.
The drivers were McLaren/Bianchi, Bucknum/Gardner, Foyt/Gurney, Donohue/Revson, Andretti/Ginther, Ruby/Hulme. Three private GT405 were also entered, one being J.W. Engineering’s GT40 driven by R. Thompson and J. lckx. The Ford set-up was fantastic in its opulence. The huge Holman & Moody garage just behind the pits was full of machinery and tools of all descriptions, a huge steel surface plate, cases of engines stacked to the roof with spares for every other part. The garage thronged with people, more than 150, so it was noted, and with such an army no job was too difficult.
The Ferrari team was much less pretentious. They had brought two new 330 P4s. Bodywise there is not much difference but underneath all is new. The rear suspension has been lightened and redesigned, putting the brakes on the outside tucked away in the wheel. The discs, which are vented, are a quick-change variety. The new cast wheels, similar to those on the F.I cars are held on by a normal 3-eared centre locknut. When the wheel is removed all that holds the disc are the calipers and some spring clips. The engine is brand new; it is a 3,967 c.c. 60-degree V12 with a bore and stroke of 77 mm x 71 mm. and four cams operating 36 valves. Lucas fuel injection delivers fuel into the manifold just where it divides into two above the two inlet valves. The engine is developing 450 b.h.p. at 8000 revs. and a new gearbox transmits the power to the road. One of the cars was open and was used for testing before Christmas while the other was a brand-new closed car. Both weighed 792 kg, dry or 980 ready to start the race. Amon and Bandini were paired in the open car and Parkes and Scarfiotti in the other. Backing up the Modena entry were two cars from N.A.R.T. and Ecurie Francorchamps. Both were 1966 P3’s with the new P4 suspension and 5-speed ZF gearboxes.
Both cars had last year’s carburetted engines and were driven by Rodriguez and Guichet, and Mairesse and Beurlys. David Piper had his P 2/3 with co-driver Attwood and N.A.R.T. had a P2 with much modified body. For the under-2-litre class a Dino privately entered, was the only opposition to Porsche.
The other contenders for the honours were Jim Hall’s Chaparrals.There were two cars, both fitted with 7-litre Chevrolet engines and 2-speed automatic transmission. One car was the 2.D as raced last year and the other, a 2.F, was new. Using the well-tried Fibreglass chassis Hall had built a G.T. car incorporating much experience gained from his Group 7 car. The radiator is split into two and is situated on either side in the middle of the car. Air is ducted through the radiator then over the wheel arches and out of the flat back. The wing type spoiler is mounted directly onto the rear wheel upright; and is located each side by arms going forward and others going to the centre. For Daytona the hydraulic wing controls were not connected and the angle of the wing was fixed. Both cars had twin damper/spring units at the back to overcome the “g” loading on the banking and new 16 in. wheels were also used on the 2.F with deep-set centre lock wheels. The keyed nuts retaining the wheel were removed by a special tool which locked onto the nut and left three ordinary ears to hammer round. The Chaparrals were driven by P. Hill/Spence and Johnson/Jennings.
Other than the lone Dino in the under 2-litre class Porsche had their factory team. This consisted of two 906 Carrera 6s and one new 910 Carrera 6. The three cars were using Bosch fuel injection, the injector situated low down in the inlets just above the valve. The injection pump was driven from a camshaft by a long-toothed belt. The 910 has much improved suspension, is shorter and lighter, and using 13in. wheels, is lower. It is a racing version of the hill-climb car and has centre-lock wheels with an ordinary large nut to hold them on. It was interesting to see they were using a new compound Dunlop tyre which enabled them to complete the race with ease witnout a tyre change. The team drivers were Mitter/Rindt and Schultz/Stemmelon in the 906’s and Herrmann/Siffert in the 910. Backing up the team were two of the long-bodied 906’s raced last year and entered by Swiss teams, plus several 911 models.
Practice started on Tuesday with qualifying on Thursday. It became obvious that the Ferraris were lapping consistently faster than the Fords and this was causing concern in the Ford pit. The Chaparral was not going as fast as it should and both drivers were complaining of one thing or another as to why their times were not better. On Thursday when it was obvious that the 2.F was not going to get a good time Hall donned goggles and helmet and in a few laps he was down to 1 min. 55.36 sec., a lot faster than his drivers, and on coming in he commented that he could find nothing much wrong with the car.
With a Chaparral and two Ferraris faster than the best Ford, Gurney’s car was set up as a sprint car. The tyres were changed for some Goodyear short-life sticky ones and the fuel was cut to a minimum for a few laps. Gurney succeeded in getting pole position by 0.26 sec.. but his engine had to be changed afterwards. Most fast drivers had some story to tell of having to dodge the slower moving chicanes and Scarfiotti was pushed into the outside wall damaging, fortunately, only the bodywork.
With all day Friday to prepare the cars there was no excuse for the 60 starters not being 100% prepared. On Friday there was a 300-mile stock car race to encourage the crowd to come for a week of racing. Saturday was overcast, but as the 3 p.m. start neared so the clouds broke and the sun came out. The cars lined up on a dummy grid in the pits, and just before 3 o’clock they moved off to do one complete lap and then start on the green flag on the back straight.
All except one car started. Tony Dean’s new Porsche threw a rod as the car was started and he never left the pits. As the green flag fell, Foyt and Hill shot forward into the banking. Before they had completed the first turn, the Chaparral had already pulled out a lead of 50 yards. Andretti had been given the job by Fords of going into the lead and breaking up the opposition. However, try as he may, the American track driver could not keep up with the Chaparral. Lap by lap, Hill pulled out a lead at the rate of a second every two laps. When the first pit stop was made after about an hour and a half, Spence took over the 2.F and was still in the lead.
For the next 90 minutes Spence held and increased his lead, then after the second pit stop Hill had the misfortune to get onto some loose surface where the road section meets the banking and he hit the wall a resounding thump. When he pitted at the end of the lap it was hoped only the wheel was buckled. Unfortunately, after one lap it was obvious that the damage was more substantial and after a short examination the car was wheeled away with a buckled wishbone and a bent mounting part. The other Chaparral was not as quick, neither driver being of Hill’s and Spence’s calibre. On the banking past the pits it spun at high speed but continued for the rest of the lap, then came in to have the tyres with flats changed. During the night the automatic transmission failed when all the fluid had gone and the second Chaparral was out after completing 186 laps.
In the opening laps Andretti, who was running as the fastest of the Fords, tried to hold the Chaparral but after this futile attempt had gone on for about 30 minutes the car began to handle badly and went into the pits for a front wheel change. This did not improve the handling so, after a few more laps, Andretti again came into the pits for a rear wheel change. This immediately improved the handling, as the left rear tyre had a slit in it which was causing it to deflate. On lap 15 Bucknum came into the pits complaining of transmission trouble, and eight laps later he was back and he had no third or fourth gears. The output shaft had sheared and mechanics set about replacing the whole gearbox. As the leaders completed their 42nd lap, Bucknum was back again but right at the back of the field. McLaren’s Ford was overheating when he made his first pit stop. From that moment onwards water was added at every stop, and in the last hours stops were made every 20 laps. A cylinder-head gasket had blown in the early stages, and it was thought to be only a matter of time before the sick car was retired; as it happened it was the only works Ford to finish.
Donohue ran into suspension trouble on his 62nd lap and was in for a long time as a shock-absorber was replaced. Then the Andretti/Ginther car came into the pits with no third or fourth gears and the gearbox was replaced. A short while afterwards Ruby made an unscheduled stop and his box was changed. In each case the output shaft had sheared at exactly the same place. An outside contractor had let the team down due to faulty finishing and heat treatment. Before dawn arrived every works car had its gearbox replaced while two cars had two new boxes. As the replacements broke the cars were withdrawn for not even Fords carry an unlimited number of spare gearboxes. At dawn the Gurney/Foyt car was lapping fourth and the McLaren/Bianchi car ninth. Just after 8 a.m. Foyt/Gurney were out when their engine blew up after covering 483 laps. This left only one of the original six cars and this one was taking on almost as much water as fuel, for the leak in the head gasket was pouring water very quickly. The general opinion among the Americans seemed to be that the defeat could only do good as some members of the works team were under the impression that they were now invincible.
The Ferrari effort was superb for under their new team manager, Franco Lini, they had hardly any problems. In the opening hours the two works cars were not drawn out by the Chaparral or the Fords and when the Chaparral retired at three hours it was Amon/Bandini and Parkes/Scarfiotti who took over a lead they never lost. During the night the Parkes/Scarfiotti car built up several laps lead when the other team car had difficulty starting, but after 12 hours the leader lost his place when the pistons on the brake calipers took a long time to be pushed back to accept the new pads. In third place the North American Racing Team P3-4 had its problems but finished third. The biggest problem after various nudges, which made the car look a bit of a wreck, was a broken gear linkage out on the circuit by the signalling pits. Three mechanics with parts, rushed out to the car and Rodriguez was told what to do and, strangely enough, “found” all the spanners and parts in the grass !
The Ferrari trio crossed the line side by side to rub in their first appearance at Daytona. The fourth car was the new 910 Porsche. Porsche had misfortunes with their other two cars and one went out quite early when it bent a valve, and the other with damaged suspension when it hit something during the night. The 910 went well, running on a new Dunlop compound on oversize tyres, using the same tyres for the whole 24 hours. When Rodriguez was having his half-hour’s gear trouble the 910 should have moved into third place but at the time it was in the pits with ignition trouble which required the replacing of much of the electrics.
Fifth place went to a Swiss-entered Porsche 906LE driven by Spoerry and Steinemann. Sixth and first in the sports category was the British-entered J. W. Engineering Ford GT40. This had fluctuating oil pressure during the first half of the race due to an oil leak. During the second half it was overheating, due to the amount of stones and rubber dirt which had accumulated in the radiator. Some of the obstructions were blown out with a carbon-dioxide extinguisher and Thompson and lckx went on to complete 601 laps.
The next two places went to Ford with the remaining Mk. II seventh, and Wonder and Coldwell in their private GT40 eighth. Ninth and 10th went to Porsche 911’s, over a hundred laps behind the leader. The crowd this year was larger but not enough to make this race pay. Again the banking had not been as dangerous as some drivers predicted although this year the yellow lights went on several times. The next round in the Championship is at Sebring on April 1st and the Chaparral could very easily run away with that race.— MJT
Results (top six):
1st: Bandini/Amon (Ferrari 330 P4)… 666 laps, 105.703 m.p.h., 2533 miles.
2nd: Scarfiotti/Parkes (Ferrari 330 P4)…663 laps
3rd: Rodriguez/Guichet (Ferrari 330 P3/4) …637 laps
4th: Herrmann/Siffert (Porsche 910 Carrera 6)…618 laps
5th: Spoerry/Steinemann (Porsche 906)… 608 laps
6th: Thompson/Ickx (Ford GT40)…601 laps.