Sunday, January 31, 2016

RETRO: Daytona's Inaugural 24 Hours race - 50 years ago

Long forgotten programme cover from the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours event. (Image source:
Was totally unawares' that this year's Rolex 24 is the golden anniversary of the now yearly twice round-the-clock endurance classic...

It's pretty amazing that 50yrs ago B-I-G' Bill France proclaimed that his Daytona International Speedway would host its first-ever 24hr endurance race in part to mimic the success of France's 24 Heurs du Mans which was then the only 24hr race. Although the Daytona combined Oval and Infield road course's overall length was 3.81-miles, slightly longer than today's recognized 3.56-mile length.

Interestingly, the two featured marques fighting for outright victory were Ford vs. Ferrari, with the "FoMoCo's" (Ford Motor Company) effort being spearheaded by 'Ol Shell, aka Carroll Shelby, one of 'Il Commendatore's (Enzo Ferrari) fiercest rivals. With Shelby American fielding three NASTY Ford GT 40 MkII's with NASCAR Stalwarts Holman & Moody running a further brace 'O GT 40's vs. Luigi Chinetti'sNorth American Racing Team's (NART) potent Ferrari 365P's.

Alas, it was Ford scoring a clean sweep of the podium, with Lloyd Ruby and Ken Miles aboard the Shelby entered #98 taking victory, followed home by team-mates Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant's #97 and Mark Donohue and Walt Hansgen finishing third in their No. 95 Holman & Moody entry.

As it was Hansgen who initially spotted the raw talents of the man who'd later on affectionately become "Captain America" at Penske Racing, which I've chronicled last summer in;

Breaking up Ford's stranglehold of the Top-5 finishing places was some Dude named "Super Mario," nee Mario Andretti with co-driver Pedro Rodriguez taking fourth in their No. 21 NART Ferrari - with Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren finishing fifth aboard the #96 Ford GT 40.

Whilst another interesting tidbit about the '66 race was the fact that the first  female to race at Mother Speedway, aka Indianapolis - Janet Guthrie was part of two all female racing teams piloting  Sunbeam-Alpine's...
Thus  ironically we're being treated to a rematch of those epic battle royale's between Ford and Ferrari today, albeit in the second tier or is it third? As this year's scrum between the Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTE is taking place in the GT Le Mans class - for which I've had ZERO idea how they're doing during the race - largely due to the LACK of Terrestrial TV coverage; GROAN!

And unless you're one of the lucky few who's privy to Fox Sports-2, then you MISSED Thy majority 'O television coverage! Which as far as I can tell won't even have its finish broadcasted on Fox Sports-1: SHEISA! Since my TV guide says FS1 IMSA TV coverage will be from 4-7:30AM Pacific - which theoretically would be less than 24hrs since the Green flag supposedly flew Saturday at 11:40AM Pacific.

Since the final two hours of the race's conclusion on FS1 wasn't listed on my TV Guide when I originally scribbled this. As hopefully Y'all caught the final 2hrs of Fox Sports-1's paltry Rolex 24 coverage...

And hopefully the most affable Aussie' Ryan Briscoe is still savouring the taste 'O champagne with his No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi team-mates after taking GT Le Mans class honours!

Post race

Unfortunately, as the most enjoyable lead broadcasting voice of's most Excellante round Thy clock coverage John Hindhaugh pointed out. The Hypefest over Ford's return was a huge disappointment! As Briscoe was forced to bring the car in just after the first 10min while stuck in sixth gear. And then they had not one, but two rear tyres go down on the banking NO less! Which thrashed the car's exotic aerodynamics.

As Hindhaugh noted that Ford was probably astounded with how stout the GT Le Mans competition was and perhaps, Briscoe & Co are using thee anticipated champagne to drown their sorrows before obviously bucklin' down for Sebring and beyond...

Ford GTs disappoint as Chevy Corvette wins Rolex 24