Ferrari Team 1-2-3 Finish at the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours

1967 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile

1967 24 Hours of Daytona – Page Two

In anticipation of something like this happening, Ford had already reserved the Speedway for its own testing session and moved in their cars and mechanics once the Italians departed for Italy.

During their week at Daytona the Ferrari team had completed over 580 laps and they were pleased with the results. Ford’s time at the Daytona facility didn’t produce the same kind of pleasure. Their testing time had to be cut short because of major problems with the new third-generation GT40 known as the “J” car. They experienced oversteering problems, cracking wheels, and a catastrophic chassis failure that forced them to pack their bags and head home early. The “J” car was unraceworthy and couldn’t be used for the Daytona 24 and the newer model Mark IIs would be their only hope against Ferrari and Chaparral.

To explain publicly why the new “J” car wouldn’t be at Daytona in 1967 Jacque Passino, Ford’s Special Vehicle (racing) manager, said, “There just wasn’t enough time to get the Formula “J” worked out.”

When word that the Ferrari P4s had broken the Daytona track record reached Maranello, Enzo Ferrari fired competition manager Dragoni. It was assumed that Dragoni was fired for allowing this to happen despite explicit orders not to do so. He was immediately replaced by autosport journalist, Franco Lini.

Later a conspiracy theory developed about the firing of Dragoni. In the 1960’s there was a lot of political turmoil within the Ferrari organization with big-name drivers coming and going and a lot of acrimony and animosity resulting. By 1966 the team was hopelessly split by these battles and after the loss at Le Mans their top driver, John Surtees, left after a bitter argument with Dragoni. Enzo Ferrari knew that something had to change.

According to the conspiracy theory Ferrari set up Dragoni for a fall. He gave him strict orders not to break the track record at Daytona while secretly passing word to some drivers to do just that and it was done in the testing sessions that were open to the public. This gave Ferrari the excuse he needed to fire the wealthy and influential Dragoni.

The news that the new Ferrari P4 had easily broken the Daytona track record hit a raw nerve at the Ford Motor company for several reasons. First it let Ford know that both their new “J” car and Mk. II prototype cars may already have been obsolete and there was not enough time to do anything about it. Secondly that particular speed record was established by much liked Ken Miles the previous year when he won in a Ford GT40 Mk. II in the very first 24 Hours of Daytona.

Unfortunately Miles would not be at Daytona in 1967 because he was killed in testing the new Ford “J” car prototype at Riverside Raceway during the summer of 1966.

Rumors that aerodynamic flaws in the new “J” car may have been the cause of the accident which took Miles life were met with denials by Ford and the PR folks began to hint that Miles might have been too old, at 48 years, to drive such a high-speed race car.

A similar “blame the driver” campaign was also apparent when Bob McLean crashed and burned in a GT40 at Sebring in March of 1966 and again when Walt Hansgen crashed and died in a Ford Mark II prototype during testing for Le Mans in April of 1966. The three deaths of Ford GT40 drivers in such a short time worried Ford executives. They feared that it would have an impact on their domestic sales. Safety issues related to the car’s design would be dealt with later.

There was a joke making the rounds in the garages at the speedway, before the 1967 24-hour race, that the new Ford “J” car was to racing what the Ford Edsel was to the passenger auto industry, and that is, “a big mistake.”

1967 Daytona 24 Hours program
The souvenir program cover for the 1967 Daytona race. Pictured are the previous year’s winners Lloyd Ruby (on the left), and the late Ken Miles. Miles would die the summer of 1966 testing the new Ford “J” car at Riverside.

At Daytona in 1967 Ford’s strategy was familiar; it was the “numbers game.” Enter as many cars as you can and some will come home winners.

Six GT40 Mk. II prototypes were flown over to the states from Ford’s Advanced Vehicles Division in England. Three of them were reengineered 1966 models and the other three were on 1967 chassis. Three of those Mk. II prototypes were assigned by Ford to Shelby American (#1, #2, #3) while the other three went to Holman Moody (#4, #5, #6). In that mix of six prototype cars were several that actually had the name Mercury on the side (see photo) instead of Ford. Confidence on both Ford teams was very high. Each team felt they could not only beat Ferrari and Chaparral but they could also beat the other Ford team.

Ford GT40 Mk II Daytona 24 Hours 1967
Pictured is part of the contingent of six Ford GT40 Mk. IIs entered at Daytona in 1967. Three were assigned to Shelby American and three to Holman Moody. Most would fail to finish due to transmission problems. The only Mk. II to finish would be the #1 driven by Bruce McLaren and Lucien Bianchi. They would finish in seventh place almost 300 miles behind the winning Ferrari.
Ford Mercury  Mk. II A.J. Foyt Dan Gurney
The GT40 Mk. II pole sitter of A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney. This was one of two Mk. IIs to arrive at Daytona with the Mercury logo on it. The other four Mk. IIs had Ford logos on the car body.
The Ford GT40 Mk. II of Lloyd Ruby and Denny Hulme.  Like most of the Ford entries it failed to finish due to a broken transmission.
The Ford GT40 Mk. II of Lloyd Ruby and Denny Hulme. Like most of the Ford entries it failed to finish due to a broken transmission.

In their effort to get the Mk. IIs ready for Daytona several modifications and upgrades were made. Among those modifications were all new 427 engines that increased horsepower from 485 to 530. Mated to those engines was a new T-44 gearbox. To address the safety issues that came from the death of Ken Miles in the “J” car, a sturdier roll-cage was installed. The end result of all this tweaking was when the 7-liter Mk. IIs showed up at Daytona they weighed in at 3,100 pounds (car, driver, fuel, oil). This was an incredible 1000 pounds more that the 4-liter Ferrari P4s.

To add to the Ford “numbers game” were three private entry GT40’s entered in the sports category, a Cobra, six Mustang GT-350’s, several Cortinas and two Ford Falcons.

Ronnie Bucknum Frank Gardner Ford GT40 Mk. II
Ronnie Bucknum and Frank Gardner failed to finish in this Ford GT40 Mk. II due to transmission problems.
A.J. Foyt Dan Gurney Mercury GT40 Mk. II Daytona 1967 photo
The Foyt/Gurney “Mercury” GT40 Mk. II in the garage at Daytona in 1967.
Holman-Moody Ford GT40 Mk II - Mark Donohue and Peter Revson
The #4 Holman Moody Ford GT40 Mk. II, driven by Mark Donohue and Peter Revson, left the race with gearbox problems. (photo credit: Al Wolford Collection)
Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA Daytona 24 Hours 1967
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA of John Bentley and Brian Beddow in the pits at Daytona. Behind the Alfa is the 12th place Ford Falcon of Ray Heppenstall and Bill Seeley.

1967 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile Continued

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  1. Another Galanos masterpiece! Thank you, Louis. As an aside, isn’t it a shame that Ford and Chaparral didn’t develop their lighter, higher revving, and less torquey small blocks, rather than feeding transmissions to the big blocks?

    1. David: That has mystified me for years. Time and time again the Chaparral was a DNF due to automatic transmission failure. We can’t change history but it is fun to speculate on the “what if…..”

  2. Thanks Lou and SCD – you feed us great stuff. The ’67 24 Hours of Daytona snaps into sharp focus. If I said that racing was never better, I’d be dating myself, but it never was… Ferrari vs. Ford – nothing is forever, but good writing prevails. I look for SCD every week, and I’ll see you in the pits, Doug

  3. Thanks Lou for the great article. It’s also very see good dad’s photos accompanying it. At that time in the mid to late 60s he was a glove rep/salesmanager for an industrial glove firm which had just begun marketing a sports/golf glove. Dad thought it might make an excellent driver’s glove. Being a huge motorsports enthusiast and photographer he parlayed the lot and headed off to Daytona. He was able to spend time with all of the major teams, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, and Chaparral, meeting with the drivers, establishing friendships and handing out free samples of the gloves. I remember us getting phone calls from him at the track, we being just as enthusiastic about the sport (thanks to him) and occasionally he would put someone on the line saying “There’s someone who’d like to say hello to you”. I and my brothers were awe struck when the likes of Chris Amon, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and Phil Hill would take a few moments to speak with us. Dad’s archives span 60+ years of motor racing, everything from Grand Prix and F5000 to Can Am, Trans Am, ALMS, CART, Indy Car, and IMSA and I know he is thrilled to see his photos here along with your superb write up. Many thanks Lou and cheers!

  4. Great article….actually much more than an article, an in depth documentary! Yup, we had a great time that year. Mechanic, Bill Cannons of Daytona Beach entered two TR-4s (an A and an IRS). Ara Dube’ and Dana Kelder were 14th OA and 1st in class, Steve Sumner and I finished 16th and 2nd in Class. A little side note: During the testing days for the Ferraris, Steve asked if he could take his personal Ferrari GT around the track a few times. The Ferrari people said why not, expecting Steve to just cruise around….I rode as passenger and Steve proceeded to put ‘the peddle to the metal.” Well we came into turn one a little too hot ,and low and behold we started spinning circles through the entire turn. When we finally came to a stop and were still right side up and not having hit anything, I climbed out of the passenger seat with my knees knocking and here comes Bandini driving a stationwagon and Scarfiotti as passenger checking on our condition. They were concerned and then laughed a bit and we all returned to the pits. I wasn’t laughing a whole lot. Guido Levetto

  5. Lou, another impressive piece of work, very much appreciated. You may be interested to know that the Dragoni saga had gone on for sometime. Franco Lini was a friend of mine and told me once that the real problem was that Dragoni had a number of close contacts within the Italian press. He used them to pressure Enzo Ferrari to gain things he wanted…mainly number one spot for ‘his’ man Bandini. Bandini found Dragoni’s approach embarrassing. Phil Hill on Dragoni was wonderful…the only person I think Phil was openly critical of. Phil said he couldn’t find enough bad things to say about Dragoni!!!
    Ed

    1. Ed, do you think that Enzo Ferrari connived with the factory drivers to violate the orders not to break the Daytona track record in order to give him a public reason to fire Dragoni?

  6. Another fantastic article with great photos –
    A super performance; you’ll have a hard time maintaining this level of quality in future articles !

    1. Not for the first time, I am amazed that no ‘real’ colour photograph of the famous Ferrari finished has ever emerged!

      Surely this was not a race from the stone-age era and one would have thought the U.S.A. would have enjoyed ready availability/use of colour film stock at the time – any thoughts/comments? Was there any film footage taken, perhaps?

  7. Outstanding work, Lou. Do you have plans to do the 1969 Daytona 24, the year we were filming James Garner’s “The Racing Scene” there?

  8. Great article Lou. You really go into details in the behind the scenes antics of racing. Thanks for taking the time to document a great race.

  9. Terrific job Louis. I don’t remember reading an account that weaved the facts in such a way as they setup what happens on the track so concisely interesting. The drama of the politics plays out against the mechanical realities of the race. And let me thank you for Bob Johnson, the driver of the Chaparral 2D, who passed away recently. He would have loved it. Our friend, and later our crew chief, he told stories that were this thick with life. I’ve already passed this on to several of our semi-old racing friends. Thank you Sports Car Digest for finding writers as good a s Mr. Galanos to keep alive the memories of a time when cars were actually different from one another and the personalities were bigger than life.

  10. Lou:

    Nice lead-in to the race this weekend. Thanks for setting the stage for us – excellent report with great photos!

  11. Stirling Moss was never World Champion, and all the Ferraris were “normally aspirated.” Two were fuel-injected and one was carburated. Other than that, great piece.

  12. Wow, what an article. This was when I lived and died with the Fords (my dad was a Ford man all his life). Thank you for an great behind the scenes look. Also, to all who added commentary, it adds immeasurably to the experience. Thank you all.

  13. Hello Guido. Fred Schmidt here. Remember me? I am the current owner of both the #42 and #43 Triumph TR4A’s. A few years ago while I was gathering information on the Triumph’s, you sent me some motion picture film that your brother shot of the cars. I still have the copies and they are great to watch. Have you been in touch with Bill Cannons, Dana, Ara or any of the others?. The last time I saw Bill was about 10 years ago. He gave me the actual Trophy from that race. So, I still have both cars and they look and run fantastic. Email me anytime. Thanks, Fred

    1. Just read your article, glad the cars are in good hands. Bill is still in good shape but “a mite older oi say”, I haven’t heard from Dana in quite a time. Ara passed away some years ago. Drop me an e-mail. Guido

  14. I am not sure about this statement: “Stirling Moss, at the time a retired world driving champion, commented: “…. Sir Stirling was a huge hero of mine then, as now, but I do not believe that he was ever world driving champion. He won a huge number of races in his career, usually in privateer cars, principally belonging to Rob Walker, methinks, and he was at one point a teammate of Fangio’s, but, better look that claim up.

    I attended that race with two college buddies, Randy De Stefano and George McNeese. Both of those guys were big (“irrationally exuberant”) Ford fans. I was a Ferrari fan. Needless to say, we goaded each other a good deal on the way to the race about who was gonna whip whose a$$. Ford had come out with overwhelming numbers of both 289 and 427 GT 40s, I think it was. Early on Sunday morning, after a long, cold night, we were out along the fence line (from the infield side) when along came Mario Andretti, helmet in hand, looking very very despondent. “What happened Mario,” we asked. “Fifty cent dog-screw in the transmission,” was all he said, as he walked back to the pits, leaving his Ford GT 40 on the track. It was very cold that morning, as I recall, chillingly cold for the Ford fans, as the Fords just continue to drop out in droves.

    At the end of the race, it was Ferrari, Ferrari, Ferrari, with two Porsche 911s tucked in a respectable distance behind them. That outcome did not please my two friends, at all. When leaving time came, there was more unbelieving silence than celebration on their part. And I had to pretty much struggle not to crow a little.

    I remember taking a picture of the number 32 Ferrari 250 LM on the infield course from about half-a-mile away with a Nikon F1, with a standard 50 mm lens on black and white Kodak PlusX film. Needless to say, I had to rotate the enlarger 90 degrees and project the image onto the floor to get a full 8 x 10 images, and was it ever grainy!

    That was a great race. Hugely exciting. Let’s see: 2013 – 1967 is … Oh, never mind. It was just yesterday in my memories.

  15. Such a great article and memorable race. I just read your race story for the third time, and suddenly realized that I had never left a comment! Thanks, Lou!

  16. Great article, I enjoyed the details.. I grew up in Lakeland FL and went to all the races at Sebring and Daytona during the 60’s. I later lived in Daytona and worked as a photographer at DIS. I really like the local look at Daytona at the time, San Remo. It was a small town. Very small crowds at Daytona and Sebring, not like today. How about an article about 1966 24 hrs. to correct the movie, “Ford vs Ferrari”.

  17. ALWAYS great to read and re-read and re-read your factual accounts of historic races and viewing again and again the photos. Mario

  18. In 1985 I sold my 275 GTB to a guy named Armand Blaton who revealed he had bought it on behalf of his Jean Blaton who was the “Beurlys” mentioned in this report and who also competed successfully for several years at Le Mans. They owned the best hotel in Brussels. The reason for the Beurlys nom de plume was that the family did not want him to race so he assumed the name and used it throughout his career. I believe the car is still in the family. I wish it was still in mine!