Just a few yards down from the Porsche garages in the spaces reserved for the five Ferrari 512s the lights would be on until the early hours of Saturday as the Italians dealt with a myriad of problems that surfaced during practice. One problem that wouldn’t get resolved before the green flag fell on Saturday was the fuel supply problem that plagued the Gurney/Parsons 512S. The useless Italian fuel pumps would necessitate more frequent pit stops for fuel but no attempt was made to replace them with something more reliable like American-made Stewart Warner fuel pumps. It was a matter of pride as far as the Italians were concerned.
Race day dawned sunny, windy and a bit chilly. High temperatures for Saturday were predicted in the forties with lows that night in the thirties. If you were a corner worker, as I was for that race, it was miserable weather with that damp Atlantic Ocean wind cutting right through you.
In the pits the drivers seemed quite pleased with the weather. Many of them remembered the warm temperatures during the 1969 Daytona 24 race that turned many of the enclosed cars into saunas. The cool weather would make driving more comfortable as well as boosting speed.
With all the hoopla surrounding the JW Automotive Gulf Porsche team and the factory Ferraris some motorsports journalists almost ignored the other two Porsche 917K race cars that were entered in this event. One was a 917K entered by Porsche of Austria (Porsche Salzburg) and was a direct result of an ongoing power struggle within Porsche. The other was a David Piper 917K that didn’t make the Friday morning qualifying session and when they entered the track that afternoon driver Tony Dean ran just a few laps before he entered his pit with complaints about gearing. The mechanics did what they could and then Peter Gregg took the wheel completing less than a full lap before blowing the engine. With no spare they were forced to withdraw the car.
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