1973 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile and Photo Gallery Page Eleven
Just then the Gregg/Haywood car was black flagged for a broken headlight. The track was beginning to crumble at certain locations which was nothing new for the Daytona facility. Asphalt pebbles were being throw up, damaging driving lights, head lights and pitting windshields on numerous cars. In 1967 pebbles from a crumbling Daytona infield track caused an accident that led to the retirement of the pole winning Chaparral 2F of Phil Hill and Mike Spence.
After a quick repair the Brumos Porsche returned to the track but the Penske Porsche was now ahead of them by a couple of laps. However, the Brumos car had one thing the Penske car did not and that was racing tires. The Penske car was fitted with street radials and was several seconds slower per lap than the Brumos car. The Brumos car began to reel in the Penske car.
The Matra continued its leisurely pace (114 mph average) around the track maintaining its lead. The sound of a Matra V-12 engine is very distinctive and one does not have to see the car to know it is coming toward you. It is an experience few who were at the races in those days will ever forget.
Just after midnight, 12:30 am Sunday to be exact, the sound of the Matra V-12 inexplicably ceased on lap 267. Cevert was at the wheel when the car rolled to a stop. He exited the car and lifted the engine hood to find a connecting rod protruding from the side of the engine block. The engine of the Matra let go at 9500 rpm which must have been one of those, “Holy U-Know-What!” moments for Cevert.
Around this time the Bell/Ganley Mirage was finally withdrawn after blowing its second clutch. The hopes of the Mirage team now turned to the Hailwood/Watson car but they were far back after spending over two hours in the pits for more repairs. Also in the pits for the umpteenth time was the Gitanes sponsored Ford Lola T282. They had a broken alternator pulley and had no spare for repairs. This necessitated a stop every 30 minutes to replace a depleted battery so their lights would function and prevent the car from getting black flagged. Finally around 2:30 am the car began to suffer from a severe misfire and finally retired after completing 281 laps.
No one could have predicted that after only 12 hours of racing the favored prototypes would be out of the race or suffering a variety of ills and far back. The lead in the Daytona 24 now landed in the lap of the Donohue/Follmer Porsche Carrera 911 RS. The gap between this 911 and the Brumos 911 was only two laps. The Gregg/Haywood Porsche had the potential of overtaking the Penske car but lost some time due to a longer than expected brake pad change.
Now in third place and 18 laps behind the leaders was the Merzario/Jarier Ferrari Daytona with the Minter/Migault Daytona in fourth and the Dave Heinz/Bob McLure/Dana English Corvette in fifth place but on the same lap as the Minter/Migault Ferrari.
The NART Daytona of Andruet/ Ballot-Léna was out after suffering a very hard crash entering the west banking. Luck was with driver Ballot-Léna because the right-side passenger door took the full brunt of the crash literally bending the car at that point. According to Luigi Chinetti, Jr., when uninjured Ballot-Léna got back to the pits he admitted to Luigi Chinetti, Sr. that the accident was all his fault. He even offered to pay for the repairs.