Not to be ignored in the over 2-liter prototype category were the Chaparral cars entered by Jim Hall. He rolled into Daytona with an older model Chaparral 2D that was modified to accept a 7-liter Chevy engine and the new “winged-wonder” also known as the Chaparral 2F.
The Chaparral 2F was equipped with a moveable rear wing mounted directly over the rear suspension. A similar rear-mounted wing had been first seen three months earlier on the Chaparral 2E Can-Am car.
At Daytona the Chaparral wing was officially christened an “overhead aerodynamic stabilizer.” In the motoring press it was referred to as a “flipper” and the car was described as “weird-winged,” the “winged-wonder” and the “winged-express.”
The new car was also equipped with a 427-cubic-inch, 396-horsepower Chevrolet engine and a “secret” three-speed automatic transmission. Hall hoped this extra horsepower would address some of the problems he had in endurance racing in 1966. The engine and transmission were courtesy of the limited support he was still getting from General Motors.
In the 2-liter and under category Porsche would have little opposition. Two factory 906Es and a new Carrera 910 were entered in the Daytona 24. The 2-liter 910 was equipped with a 220-horsepower flat six-cylinder engine. In the minds of many the only competition that faced Porsche in this category was the Ferrari Dino 206s entered by privateers NART and Harrah.
During the three days of practice and qualifying the Dan Gurney – A.J. Foyt Ford GT40 Mk. II took the pole position with a time of 1:55.1 (119.165 mph) which was 2.7 seconds under the record set by Ken Miles in 1966. Gurney’s pole winning lap was set on a special set of Goodyear “gumball” qualifying tires.
The Phil Hill – Mike Spence Chaparral 2F was second on the grid with a time of 1:55.6 and to everyone’s surprise (especially factory Ferrari) the NART Ferrari 330 P3 of Pedro Rodriguez and Jean Guichet qualified third. The best the factory P4s could do was the Amon – Bandini P4 in fourth. The rest of the first ten qualifiers included another Ferrari, the other Chaparral and four more Ford GT40 Mk. IIs.
The other 49 cars that would finally make the starting grid consisted of a little bit of everything including a Dodge Dart, a 1.3 liter ASA 411 with an all female driving crew and several Triumph TR-4’s. The number 42 Triumph TR-4 would be driven by Mario Levetto’s brother Guido and he and co-driver Steven Somner would finish in 18th position.
Having such small displacement cars on the same track with the big 7-liter Ford prototypes created some hairy moments as closing speeds approached 120 feet per second on the 31-degree high banks. No wonder that the slower drivers were admonished strongly during the driver’s meeting to stay in their lanes and not deviate. After the race some of the slower drivers would jokingly claim they spent more time looking in their rear view mirrors than looking ahead out of fear of those 7-liter prototypes.