1973 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile and Photo Gallery Page Thirteen
As the sun rose over the Speedway the race fans who slept through the very noisy and eventful night began to awaken and many were shocked to see on the huge Speedway scoreboard who was in the lead. The common refrain was, “Wha’Happened?!!”
To say that Porsche fans were excited would be an understatement. One fan was seen marching through the infield with a huge Porsche flag attached to a long wooden dowel. Those in the Porsche corral were a little more circumspect as they began preparing breakfast because they knew there was still a lot of time left in the race and anything could happen.
And happen it did in those very early hours of Sunday morning. At the wheel of the leading Porsche was Hurley Haywood and after exiting turn six in the infield he rocketed down the back straight passing Lake Lloyd on his left. Then it happened, a big bang and the cockpit filled up with shards of glass, feathers and blood. One of Lake Lloyd’s many seagulls had crossed paths with the Porsche at 150 mph. When the initial shock of the collision was over Haywood radioed his pit to tell them the bad news. The pit did not have a spare windshield and signaled to him to stay out until they could find one.
In those days the standard practice, if you didn’t have a spare part, was to go into the paddock and find a compatible donor car. This happened in 1967 when the Ford factory team ran out of transmissions (they had twelve) and got one from a GT40 parked in the paddock. In 1970 a call went out over the PA system at Daytona for anyone with a BMW 2002. They used the same distributors that the Matras used that year and Matra needed to “borrow” a couple. The announcer promised the distributors would be returned after the race. At Sebring one year a Corvette team literally stole a rear axle from a race fan’s Corvette parked in the paddock. However, they were kind enough to leave a note on the windshield of the donor car.
The first attempt by the Brumos mechanics to find a windshield failed when the owner of a 911 flat refused. Finally someone agreed to let them remove the windshield from a compatible car. No doubt some arrangement had been made for payment or similar compensation. With windshield in hand the mechanics went to their pit where the signal went out to Haywood to bring the car in to replace the windshield and maybe do a little detailing to get rid of feathers, blood and other avian body parts in the cockpit.
It took ten laps (approx. 20 minutes) to locate, remove the donor windshield and get it to the Brumos pits. It must have been a macabre scene in the Brumos car as Hurley Haywood tooled around the track lap after lap with a dead ten pound (according to Haywood) bird part way in and out of the windshield. The Brumos pit used both their radio and signal board to inform Haywood to bring in the car. According to Haywood the radios back then were “pretty awful.” When he finally pitted it took just over eight minutes to replace the damaged windshield.
Watching all this drama from the pits were the other drivers and each time Haywood passed the finish line with a severely damaged windshield they began to question why the stewards were not black flagging the car.
Mario and Guido Levetto drove the San Remo Restaurant Camaro at that race in ’73. Mario indicated that a rumor circulated among the other drivers that the stewards were giving local boys (Gregg & Haywood) time to find a replacement windshield, get tools set up for the repair and maintain their lead. In his own words Hurley Haywood seemed to confirm this assessment. According to him, “Back then that kind of stuff was sort of overlooked. It was not like the windshield was flapping or lost its integrity. The only person who could see it degrade was me. I was going to keep going until they (my pit) told me what to do.”