1973 24 Hours of Daytona – Race Profile and Photo Gallery Page Fifteen
The winning car covered 670 laps and 2,552.7 miles (4,108.16 km) at an average speed of 106.274 mph which was one of the slowest averages in recent times. The slowest on record for the Daytona 24 was back in 1969 when the winning Penske Lola T70 Mk. IIIB averaged only 99.268 mph at the hands of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons.
The first place money totaled $11,000 and in the winner’s circle Gregg commented to reporters that his car was probably the cheapest car ever to win the Daytona 24. According to Gregg the 911 Carrera RS cost only $25,000 while the winning Ferrari 312PB in 1972 probably cost $200,000. Gregg indicated he had no illusions about winning from the very start and was as much surprised as anyone that he won with what was a very new untested car. Gregg said, “Porsche thought this would be a good test for their new car…and I didn’t think it would finish.”
Over in the Mirage and Matra pits the disappointed mechanics and drivers were getting everything packed up for the trip back to Europe. Disappointment was very evident on the face of Matra team manager Gérard Ducarouge. He had confidently predicted an overall win before the start of the race but after his car retired while in the lead he commented, “…I think now it may be a hard season to win for France.”
In the paddock and infield camping areas fans were also preparing to leave. It was amazing how much useable stuff was left behind by the record crowd many of whom had spent four days camped out in the infield. You could furnish a small house with the chairs, tables, couches and other items left sitting on the frost-damaged infield grass.
Before they left several groups of race fans were asked about their reaction to the surprise win by the Brumos Porsche. As expected the Porsche fans were elated but many veteran Daytona attendees expressed disappointment that the race was won by what looked like a street car that you could purchase in any Porsche showroom. This was not what they came to see and reminisced about the days when Ford GT40s, Ferrari 512s and Porsche 917s blasted around the Daytona track.
The Gregg – Haywood victory was the first major international victory for a 911-based Porsche but it would not be the last. Gregg and Haywood would go on to win Sebring six weeks later in a 911, and 911-based cars would dominate sports car racing for a decade.
The Daytona 24-Hour race would continue to evolve for the next four decades going through a host of trials and tribulations including the energy crisis that caused the cancellation of 24 Hours of Daytona and Sebring 12-Hour GP in 1974. Over time the 24 Hours of Daytona has become and will remain an important fixture on the international racing calendar.
For Additional Reading
Corvette: Racing Legends, by Dr. Peter Gimenez, Ventura Publishing, Inc., 2008
Daytona 24 Hours: The Definitive History of America’s Great Endurance Race by J.J. O’Malley, David Bull Publishing, 2009
The Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Daytona Beach, Florida, Feb. 2-3-4, 1973
“Porsche Spring A Surprise” by Jeff Hutchinson, Autosport, February 8, 1973
Racing In The Rain by John Horsman, David Bull Publishing, 2006
WSC Giants Gulf-Mirage 1967 to 1982 by Ed McDonough, Veloce Books, February 2012
[Source: Lou Galanos]