Ferrari Club of America - Southwest Region

Oldtimer's Corner - Racing a Daytona at (you guessed it) Daytona

By: Ed Niles

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This story really starts in 1976, when my good friend Ken Starbird took his 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (Daytona) to the 24-hour race at Daytona, Florida. Daytona is known to the good old boys of the South, as a place where one of the greatest stock car races of them all is run on a huge banked oval track. Getting less publicity, however, but more important to the sporty-car types, is the 24-hour race which is run in late January or February of each year.

Ken had used his competition Daytona (S/N15685) as an every-day driver, but had arranged for what was essentially an amateur effort to take the car to Daytona in 1976. Without going into detail about that race, suffice it to say that Ken's car came in 6th overall, and Ken Starbird was hooked on long distance racing!

After having been to LeMans for the 24-hours, twice, I still had a little bit of the infection contracted from the 24-hour racing bug. So when Ken decided to return to Daytona in 1977, I was one of the first volunteers.

Ken's enthusiasm was catching: He had such a good time the previous year that in l977 it was decided to put together a 3-car effort. Ken's car, serial No. 15685, was to be joined by No. 14437, an ex-Filipinetti all aluminum series I car, and No. 16407, an ex-NART series III car, with "motore speciale". Otto Zipper was once again recruited as team manager, while Bruno Borri, Pietro Lurilli and Luciano Fabbio of Modena Sport Cars supplied most of the serious mechanical and engineering personnel.

We became known as the "Hollywood Team". Why? It wasn't enough that Modena Sport Cars was located in Hollywood, California. S/N 16407 was owned by the famous actor David Carradine, and one of the drivers of that car was David's younger brother, Bobby. Even more to the point, one of the drivers of S/N l4437 (entered by Rick Schrameck and Ray Ramsey of Ferrari of San Francisco) was none other than P. L. Newman, known in Hollywood circles as Paul Newman.

This line-up of interesting personalities carried with it its own baggage. On the upside, we had little difficulty attracting last-minute sponsors to help the finances along. On the downside, we found ourselves so swamped with spectators and autograph seekers that it was almost impossible to get any work done. We ended up going into "town" for lumber and plastic sheeting, together with hammers, nails and saws, so that we could build an enclosure around our pit. This was not really up to the job, as the spectators started poking holes in the plastic, so that they could stick their cameras through to shoot pictures of Bobby, David and Paul.

We ended up hiring a local policeman to keep the spectators away. He was your prototypical Southern Cop: 9' tall, 300 lbs. shiny boots up to the knees, and wearing mirrored sun glasses underneath his heavy helmet. He came equipped with a pistol with a 9" barrel on one side, and the biggest night stick I have ever seen on the other hip! Finally, relief from the autograph seekers!

The driver line-up was as follows: 14437 had Paul Newman, Milt Minter and Elliott Forbes/Robinson. 15685, Ken Starbird's car, had Dick Barbour, John Cannon and Tony Adamowicz. 16407 had Bobby Carradine, Roy Woods and John Morton. Among the crew members was John Morton's dear friend, Sylvia Wilkinson, who was, in her own field, a wonder-woman. I had volunteered to help with timing, but Sylvia said, "don't worry, jut leave it to me". As it turned out, Sylvia was able to maintain a chart on both of our cars (more on that later) and keep tabs on the rest of the field as well. She did this for 24 straight hours, so far as I could tell, never even taking a break for a pit stop! She was absolutely amazing: She could tell which cars were approaching her pit position by the sound of their engines.

In earlier years, Bruno Borri and Milt Minter had bee

For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 4, Issue 6 - September 1997