As Ferrari customer teams prepare to compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, we chronicle our motorsport pedigree at this famous endurance event, right from the very first race
Ferrari’s racing history is nothing short of illustrious. Be it in Formula 1 or sports cars, there have been famous victories at venues as varied as Monaco and Spa Francorchamps, Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. Each time a Ferrari takes the chequered flag in first position is a special moment, creating an indelible link between that victory, the circuit, the driver (or drivers), the car, the team, the fans – and of course, Ferrari.
We would not hope to order them, but ahead of the running of the 24 Hours of Daytona later this month, we are looking back at our history at this particularly special North American endurance event. Ferrari competed at the very first race, has had a strong and enduring presence ever since, and will be on the grid once more on 30 January 2021 for the 59th running.
Established in 1962, the event was first held as a three-hour race. Then known as the Daytona Continental, Ferrari’s reigning Formula 1 champion Phil Hill, together with team-mate Ricardo Rodriguez, finished second overall. Their Ferrari 246 SP was fielded by Ferrari’s North American importer Luigi Chinetti Snr, and his North American Racing Team (NART) also saw Stirling Moss bring home a Ferrari 250 GT in 4th, to win the S+5000 class.
A year later Pedro Rodriguez was victorious at the Daytona Continental, in a Ferrari 250 GTO fielded by NART. And in 1964, as the Daytona Continental was expanded to 2,000km (or just over 12 hours of racing), Rodriguez and Hill won in another NART Ferrari 250 GTO.
In 1966 the race grew to 24 hours – as Pedro Rodriguez and Mario Andretti finished 4th in a NART Ferrari 365 P2. But our most famous Daytona win came in 1967: a 1-2-3 photo finish. Led by Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon in a factory-fielded Ferrari 330 P4, another factory Ferrari was 2nd, while a NART Ferrari 412 P rounded out the podium.
Famous names like Andretti, Jacky Ickx and Alain de Cadenet took podium places in the early 1970s for Ferrari, before Andretti and Ickx teamed up in ’72 – in a one-time, six-hour event – to win outright in a factory Ferrari 312 PB.
Daytona returned to a 24-hour event in 1973, and through the remainder of this decade Ferrari’s own ‘Daytona’ had much storied success. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in the autumn of 1968, the 365 GTB4 road car almost immediately become known in the media as ‘Daytona’ – an unofficial title supposedly in recognition of the 1-2-3 victory, but one that continues to be widely used today.
Three series of five client competition examples were built at the factory’s ‘Assistenza Clienti’ department in Modena, between the beginning of 1971 and June 1973, while three earlier chassis are also officially recognised as having been converted to Competizione specification in period. There was a class win – and 2nd overall – at Daytona in ’73, together with 5th for actor Paul Newman, Milt Minter and Elliott Forbes-Robinson in ’77.
Even as late as 1979, six years after production of the 365 GTB4 finished, a ‘Daytona’ finished 2nd and won the IMSA GTO class. Raced by John Morton and Tony Adamowicz, it was entered by Otto Zipper, who passed away suddenly on the morning of the event – but the team raced in his memory.
In the 1990s, the new F333 SP marked our return to sports-prototype racing, a category in which Ferrari built much of its reputation. Created as part of a renewed determination to enable customers to race their own cars, an F333 SP finished 2nd in both 1996 and 1997, before Gianpiero Moretti (founder of Momo, maker of famous steering wheels) achieved his dream in 1998 and won the 24 Hours of Daytona at his 15th attempt. Sharing the car was Didier Theys, a highly successful endurance racer who today is the Head Coach of the Ferrari Challenge in North America.
Ferrari focused on its sports racing cars in the new millennium. Fundamentally related to road cars but showing true motorsport pedigree, across the past two decades there have been standout achievements at Daytona, from 2nd overall in a Ferrari 360 Modena in 2003, to a more recent 2nd in 2019 (by just 1.149 seconds) for a Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTLM class. Coincidentally, both those impressive results were achieved by the Houston, Texas-based Risi Competizione team.
Ferrari will be present again at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the 488 GTE competing once more in the GTLM class. How will history record this race?