1970 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile Page Eleven
Around 9:30 p.m. both Gulf Porsches were in the pits for routine servicing but the Rodriguez/Kinnunen car needed extra time to repair a headlight that again had popped out of its mounting. They lost three laps as a result. Just down from the Porsche pits was the Squadra Picchio-Rosso Ferrari 512S of Corrado Manfredini and Gianpiero Moretti. After a routine stop Moretti left their pit and hit the gas pedal a little too hard spinning the car on pit road in front of everyone. Fortunately he didn’t hit anything or anyone and when he got going again received a rousing chorus of cheers, whistles and clapping from some of the crews.
The Gulf Porsches and the Andretti Ferrari continued their record pace into the cold January night. After nearly nine hours of racing the leading Porsche 917K of Rodriguez/Kinnunen was averaging over 119 mph and the previous year’s records were getting smashed as each hour passed.
At the half-way mark in the race the third place Andretti/Merzario/Ickx 512S was in the pits for new brake pads. The Ferrari mechanics also broke out some tape to repair a growing crack in the car’s body. Also needing some tape for body repairs was the Gurney/Parsons 512S after it collided with another car on the infield course. It took a couple of extra stops and more tape before they could correct the aerodynamic problems caused by that collision. That repair allowed them to stay in the top ten until a gear box failed when Gurney had to make an abrupt downshift to avoid a slower car. The car retired after 464 laps.
The Rodriguez/Kinnunen 917K still led at this point in the race with the Siffert/Redman 917K second, Andretti was still third in his 512S. The Brabham/Cevert Matra 650 was fourth and the David Piper/Tony Adamowicz NART 312P was 5th.
A couple of hours later the Elford/Ahrens Salzburg 917K suffered a broken shock absorber that caused their fuel tank to drag along the pavement and fracture. This type of damage was not repairable and the car was withdrawn after completing 337 laps.
On those parts of the infield track where the asphalt was crumbling under the pounding of the race cars the underlying lime rock was exposed and began to pulverize into dust that was sucked into car air vents. The dust-clogged radiators began to overheat resulting in unscheduled pit stops. One crew borrowed a length of hose from a camper in the paddock and sprayed the race car’s radiator to wash off dust that adhered to metal surfaces almost like cement.
More bad luck befell the Siffert/Redman 917K as they too had a shock give way around 2:30 a.m. when a bolt holding the shock sheared clean off. What followed next could only be described by driver Brian Redman in his own words, “I’m coming off the banking at well over 200 miles an hour, there’s a bump and boom! I spin all the way down the pit straight but didn’t hit anything.”
It would take 20 minutes to replace the broken shock and that would put the Andretti/Merzario/Ickx Ferrari briefly in second place. That position change was short lived because the Ferrari was again black-flagged for tail lights and after the repair was made returned to the race in third place.
As the sun began to peek over the eastern rim of the Speedway the first three positions remained unchanged with a 917K in first and second and a 512S in third. Having to retire on lap 412 was the Picchio Rosso 512S with a broken suspension. The tremendous down forces experienced on the high banks at over 200 mph might have been the cause for so many broken shocks and damaged suspensions. Also, that dip in the track at NASCAR 4 didn’t help.
As more sun filtered into the Speedway tri-oval the spectators began to stir in their campsites. Awakening to near freezing temperatures campfires and grills were started in order to get some hot beverages brewing. Others made the dash to the nearby restrooms for morning ablutions and many experienced Daytona race fans knew if you didn’t get in there early it might be a long wait and the facilities, which were cleaned overnight, might not be as welcoming.
In the area known today as the hot pits a kind soul was distributing cups of hot coffee and hot chocolate to some of the drivers and crews. Most of the others had to hoof it over to the concession stands that were already doing a brisk business.
Standing in line at one concession stand was a attractive young lady wearing go-go boots, short jacket and a crocheted mini-skirt that could be described as see-through. It was obvious she was pretty cold because you could see chill bumps on her exposed flesh. Several of the men in and around her didn’t seem to notice her. No doubt they were still half asleep and wouldn’t wake up until they had their first cup of coffee.
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