Rolex 24 at Daytona 50th Anniversary Heritage Display Parade Laps

50 Years of Champions at Daytona – Report and Photos

The Rolex 24 at Daytona 50th Anniversary Heritage Display – Bringing Racing History Back To Life

By Louis Galanos | Photos by Louis Galanos and as noted

Well over a year ago the Daytona International Speedway (DIS) embarked on a task that even the great Hercules might have shied away from. That is to search the world over for every car that ever won, what we now call the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and transport them to Daytona Beach, Florida for a 50th anniversary reunion and heritage display.

Tim Pendergast of Jacksonville, Florida was hired by the Speedway to track down these historic automobiles and get permission from the current owners to showcase them in the temporary building the Speedway was constructing on the grounds in front of the Speedway. Pendergast is a vintage car expert and has worked with Speedway president Joie Chitwood III in the past in locating and displaying historic cars.

Of the 45 cars (some had won more than once) that had won at Daytona almost half were easily located because they had been featured in automotive publications, raced in historic events or ensconced in automotive museums. Locating the rest would require some good old-fashioned detective work which meant long hours on the phone talking to sources or in front of a computer sending out dozens of emails to automotive contacts around the world.

In the end 29 historic cars were assembled at the 2012 Daytona 24 Hours on January 26 – 29 for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of vintage racing machines. The cars that didn’t show or couldn’t be located are a story unto themselves.

The owners of some of these historic cars just didn’t want to be bothered, which is amazing in itself. For some of the no-show cars it would have cost the Speedway a small fortune to ship them to the United States. Just to transport the winning Porsches from 1980 and 1991 to the U.S. from Europe would have cost $56,000 and that didn’t include any fees to the owners. The Speedway decided to pass on that.

The Nissan R91CP that won Daytona in 1992 was in the Nissan museum in Japan and would not be coming. The Ferrari 333SP driven by the late Gianpiero Moretti to victory in 1998 couldn’t be located even after the Speedway issued a worldwide alert for the car. In fact not a single one of the five winning Ferrari cars made it to Daytona for the reunion, a real disappointment for Ferrari fans.

A couple of the cars didn’t make it because they no longer exist. One was the Brumos Porsche 911 Carrera RSR that Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood drove to victory in 1973. After the 1973 race it was shipped back to the Porsche factory in Germany where engineers disassembled it in order to examine every modification made to it. The intent was to find out what worked and didn’t work in order to build more race winning cars.

In 1975 (no race in 1974 due to the energy crisis) Gregg and Haywood won again in another Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. Later that car was sold to the Diego Febles Racing Team but on a fateful day in Mexico the truck carrying the car went off a mountain road and the race car was destroyed. No idea what happened to the driver of the truck but no doubt it was not good.

The official beginning of the 50th anniversary celebration did not occur at the Speedway but at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center the evening of January 26, 2012 where the historic cars were displayed, food was served and speeches were given by many notables from the racing community.

The following morning (Friday the 27th) the cars were driven on the streets of Daytona approximately five miles to the Speedway much to the delight of the hundreds of spectators who lined the sidewalks. The route had to be carefully planned to avoid manhole covers and rough pavement since many of the 25 cars that made the trip had very low clearances.

On race day (Saturday the 28th) the vintage cars were brought to the track for a 50th anniversary photo session at the start-finish line. This would be followed by the cars doing several laps around the track with some being driven by legendary drivers like Brian Redman, Bobby Rahal and Dario Franchitti. The photo shoot was delayed by several minutes because several hundred overeager fans, myself included, rushed over the pit walls and across the grass area in front of the start finish to get photos of the cars and drivers. Not until a platoon of track security guys showed up did the crowds disperse so the Speedway could take the photos they wanted.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal was right when they indicated that the reunion of all these previous winning race cars was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For racing fans young and old alike at Daytona this January, the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona will be a race to remember.

2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona 50th Anniversary Heritage Display – Photo Gallery

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2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona 50th Anniversary Heritage Display – Notable Race Winners

1966 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Ford GT40 Mark 2
1966 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Ford GT40 Mk. II - When the race was first held in 1962, known then as the Daytona Continental, it was a three-hour race before expanding to 2,000 kilometers in 1964. Two years later the event was lengthened again to become the first accredited 24-hour international sports car race in the United States. Driving the No. 98 Fort GT40 Mark II, Lloyd Rudy and Ken Miles kept to a schedule of double shifts (three hours) and no sleep on their way to their second straight victory. The duo led nearly every lap of the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours and won by a margin of eight laps, completing 679 laps at an average speed of 108.02 mph. The victory was part of a 1-2-3 Ford Mark II finish with Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant in second place and Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue in third. (photo credit: Rolex / Motorsports Images and Archives)
Sunoco Penske Lola T70 Mk3B
1969 Daytona 24 Hours Winner - Lola T70 Mk3B - The No. 6 Lola-Chevrolet T70 Mk3B was fielded by legendary car owner Roger Penske, and driven to victory in the 1969 race by Americans Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons. The victory was the first for Penske at Daytona International Speedway and the first for Chevrolet in an international endurance race. Race strategy was essential to Donohue and Parsons’s 1969 victory. Penske believed attrition would prove key to victory and directed his drivers to run a conservative pace. Despite the No. 6 Lola T70 experiencing a wide-range of problems, Penske’s drivers were the last men standing when accidents and mechanical failures took out the pre-race favourites. Even after spending more than two hours in the pits over 31 stops, the No. 6 Lola T70 won by a margin of 30 laps, covering a grand total of 626 laps, 2,382.63 miles (3,834.47 km). (photo credit: Rolex / ISC Images and Archives)
1970 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Gulf Porsche 917K
1970 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Porsche 917K - The 1970 24 Hours of Daytona Champion joining the display is the No. 2 light blue and orange Gulf Porsche 917, fielded by Englishman John Wyer and driven by Pedro Rodriguez of Mexico, Leo Kinnunen of Finland and Englishman Brian Redman. The No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917 dominated the 1970 race and won by 45 laps over its sister car, the No. 1 Gulf Porsche 917. Rodriguez, who scored his third of four Rolex 24 victories in 1970, was behind the wheel when the No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917 took the lead two hours and 35 minutes into the race. Redman holds the unusual distinction of having driven on both the first and second place cars. Redman and Jo Siffert (SUI) had teamed up to drive the No. 1 car, but the No. 2 Gulf Porsche crew had difficulty communicating with Kinnunen and Redman ended up filling in for a shift. (photo credit: Louis Galanos)
Brumos Porsche twin-turbo 935
1978 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Porsche 935 - Driven by Rolf Stommelen (DEU), Antoine Hezemans (NED) and Peter Gregg (USA), the No. 99 Brumos Porsche twin-turbo 935. took the point on Lap 14 and never relinquished the lead, giving the team the checkered flag with a 30-lap margin of victory and an average speed of 108.743 mph (175.004 km/h). Although on pace to set a new race record, the team paused in the final half of hour of the race to clean the car and apply new decals for the staged all-Porsche group photo on the final lap. In all, Porsche swept the top seven positions in the race and 14 of the top 15 spots. For Gregg, one of the most successful racers in the Rolex 24, the 1978 victory marked his fourth and final triumph in the gruelling endurance race. It also marked Stommelen’s second of four overall victories, making him, along with Scott Pruett (USA), one the only drivers to have won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in three different decades. (photo credit: Rolex / Motorsports Images and Archives)
Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March 83G
1984 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March 83G - Owned by Kreepy Krauly, a South African manufacturer of swimming pool-cleaning equipment, and driven by a trio of South African drivers with no previous racing experience at DIS (Sarel van der Merwe, Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury), the Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March took the lead for the final time on Lap 254 and scored a nine-lap margin of victory. With the exception of running out of fuel and a broken gearshift knob, the team had not experienced much drama for their first Rolex 24, and they completed 640 laps, for 2,476.8 miles (3,986 km) at an average of 103.119 mph (165.954 km/h). (photo credit: Rolex / Motorsports Images and Archives)
1994 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Nissan 300ZX Turbo
1994 Daytona 24 Hours Winner, Nissan 300ZX Turbo - Driven by Americans Paul Gentilozzi, Scott Pruett, Butch Leitzinger and New Zealander Steve Millen, the No. 76 Nissan 300ZX-Turbo was steady throughout the 1994 race covering 707 laps and averaging 104.80 mph (168.66 km/h). Entered as a partnership between Gentilozzi and Clayton Cunningham, the Nissan 300ZX-Turbo scored the first overall win in the Rolex 24 for a GT car since 1983, and the first win for a front-engine car since 1976. (photo credit: Rolex / Motorsports Images and Archives)

50 Years of Champions at Daytona – Video

[Source: Louis Galanos; Rolex Motorsports]

Show Comments (22)

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  1. Well done Louis! You perfectly captured what for many of us was the highlight of this year’s 24 hours of Daytona. All that’s missing is that special sound of those cars as they blasted down the front straight.

  2. Splendid Lou, just splendid….as usual, both photos and commentary are great. I agree with Dave’s above comment: all that’s missing is that special sound……

  3. Watching all those historic and irreplaceable cars I couldn’t help think that somewhere in Daytona that weekend were a couple of vintage car insurance agents that collectively held their breath for three straight days. They probably had to be hospitalized for nervous exhaustion when they got home.

  4. Great job. These events must be keep going for older to remember and teach and learn the younger. These great moments of the past must live for ever. It is a pittty that some cars did not show but nevertheless the ones appear its great. Keep going strong.

  5. Good job Lou, especially your period pics. Seems a shame to have gotten just over half the cars………and no Ferraris!?

  6. I Just got Morretti’s 333SP, I put it out on displayed at Cavillino but has not moved under it’s own power in 12 years, so I missed out on displaying it at Daytona. Car came with no spares and 15 year old tires and obsoleate, but buitiful wheels.
    Car was Started for first time by me last week and it does sound as good as it looks, the car is now in full MOMO decor and the Ansa boys put a in memory of G Morretti’s on the sail panel in respect to the cars first owner.
    No events have been decided on for it’s first outing
    If enough interest I will have pictures posted on gtcars.moon

  7. Lou
    Just a quick correction the RSR from 1973 was not sold to Diego Febles, it was sold to the Rebaque-Van Beuren-Rojas team (RVR), the champions of Mexico and yes it was destroyed going to a race, along with the truck carrying it but with no harm to the mechanic who was driving the thing.

    1. I was wondering why Diego Febles (from Puerto Rico) was having the car towed to Mexico. Now it make sense.
      To be fair, Diego did race Porsche 911 in the classic Brumo’s colors with the number 58 on its sides to a 2nd overall and 1st in GTO in the 1978 24 hour race.

      1. The GTO winner at Daytona in ’78 ( Diego Febles/Alec Poole) was the same car to finish P2 overall at the 12 hours of Sebring in “77(Diego Febles/Hiram Cruz) It is chassis# 911 460 9054, purchased by Diego Febles from Peter Gregg in January of 1976. it was the #59 car that won Daytona in ’75(Gregg/Haywood). I worked a lot on that car, and crewed many races for Diego, along with my dad, Jesus Leira.
        Rgds, David Leira

  8. Great article! I have one comment regarding the information for the 1969 winning Penske Lola-Chevy. You say the 69 race was Chevolet’s first international win. I would have thought that Jim Hall’s Team Chaparral wins in Europe at Nurburgring 1000 (using the Chevy 327 in the 2D in 1966) and the Brands Hatch win (using the Chevy 427 in the 2F in 1967) would qualify for 1st International wins for Chevolet?

  9. Of course Glenn is right. ’69 Daytona was definitely not Chevrolet’s first. Not only did Chaparral win at the Nurburgring in 1966 (Hill/Bonnier, 2D) and at Brands Hatch in 1967 (Hill/Spence, 2F), but also won Sebring in 1965 (Hall/Sharp, 2).

    Having said that, the organizers did a fantastic job in assembling so many winning cars. Having been involved is similar efforts, but on a much lesser scale, for historic race weekends, I can appreciate the enormity of the task and applaud the results.

  10. Lou-Thanks for putting together the coverage of this once-in-a-lifetime event. Great photos as usual. I was chagrined at the lack of coverage of the past winners and other vintage and historic cars at Daytona by Speed TV. Bob Varsha made a comment that many of the past winners were there on display and did a parade lap but no coverage of the cars, people, etc. at all. They didn’t even show the parade lap.

    1. I agree Jeff, especially when you consider that cars like the vintage Gulf Porsche 917K
      drew flocks of appreciative fans when in the garage area and in the display
      tent outside the track. Those old cars were more popular than some of the
      newer ones running in this year’s Daytona 24.

  11. Hi Louis,

    Thank you again for this. I see someone above regretting the lack of a time machine: I don’t – each of your articles and all its great pictures transport me right back without fail. Thanks you again and looking forward to the next (master)piece.

  12. Thanks again Lou, for taking us to Daytona 50th. Again, Superb writing and great shots. I don’t feel like I missed out now. The sounds of 917’s, 512’s and the 936’s still make their music in my memory as I followed your account.