Weather on race day at Daytona was always a big factor. The previous year the race was run in sub-freezing temperatures but for 1967 the weather was almost perfect for racing. Cloudy with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 50’s. No rain was predicted.
Despite the overcast skies Bill France seemed quite cheerful. The 57-year-old France was telling everyone who would listen that “his” Continental carried more international standing “than any U.S. racing event including Sebring.”
What may have helped his cheerful demeanor was the news of advance ticket sales and the great turnout at the front gate. He was predicting a record attendance of 25,000 plus which was more than double what it was for the first running of the 24-hour race the previous year.
Under the overcast skies the race crews either pushed or drove their cars from the garages to the starting grid. The cars passed through the crowd while opening ceremonies were conducted and VIP’s were being introduced over the PA system.
If you stood there by the opening in the pit wall, where the cars and crews passed by on their way to the grid, you would have thought you were in the United Nations because of the different languages being spoken by the men pushing the race cars.
There were drivers and crews from Germany, Italy, France, England, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and Switzerland and they were still moving the last cars to the grid when the local high school band began playing the national anthem.
Much to everyone’s amazement, as the band played, the clouds parted and sunlight bathed the track. If you believed in omens then this was a good one for someone. The cars began leaving the grid to make the once around the track before taking the starting flag on the back straight of the 3.81 mile race course. Many of the drivers hoped to finish well enough to lay claim to some of the $61,000 that was being offered in prize money for this race.
Starting the race on the back straight was a safety measure which allowed the faster cars to string out ahead of the field of 59 cars before coming off the very fast high banks and into turns one and two on the infield course.