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A new race produces an old Ferrari story
Bob Ottum
February 24, 1964
Carroll Shelby's swift new Cobra threw a scare into the Ferrari camp as America's latest and longest race unfolded at Daytona, but in the end a bobtailed coupe (above) led a sweep for the perennial champions
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February 24, 1964

A New Race Produces An Old Ferrari Story

Carroll Shelby's swift new Cobra threw a scare into the Ferrari camp as America's latest and longest race unfolded at Daytona, but in the end a bobtailed coupe (above) led a sweep for the perennial champions

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Against the factory cars and three other hot Ferraris, Shelby flung three Cobras. Shelby, lean and taut at 41 with a weathered, deeply etched plainsman's face, once raced in Ferraris. Now his most ardent desire is to clobber them. "One of these days I will," he said.

Hoping that day would be Sunday, he worked long to tune two normal competition Cobras (as opposed to the street models, of which he builds 65 a month) and also brought along a spiffy new Cobra—an aerodynamic coup�.

It was in this 180-mph racer that he paired two of the finest drivers in America, the veteran Bob Holbert and a damn-the-hay-bales newcomer, Dave Mac-Donald. In one of the normal Cobras he put the superb Grand Prix driver Dan Gurney and steady Bob Johnson; in the other, two French drivers.

Chinetti, confident in his Ferraris' speed and reliability despite his fussing, could not resist making a crack at the Americans' earnest preparations. "After all," he said, "the best American sports car is the Jeep, no?"

The only other threats to the Ferraris in the Continental field of 42 cars were two English Aston Martins, and the Aston Martin people were playing it cool.

"We are interested in the Ferrari-Cobra affair," said Driver Roy Salvadori, "but one must expect a Ferrari victory."

First, however, Bill France sharpened the worldly appetites of his customers with a 250-mile sprint on Saturday for prototype sports cars. The first half featured an exciting wheel-to-wheel scrap between the Scarab-Chevy of A.J. Foyt and the Lotus-Ford of Dan Gurney. Then Gurney's car faltered and Foyt won in leisurely fashion.

Finally, beneath an overcast Sabbath sky, Bill France's latest and longest race began. From the first it was a Ferrari-Cobra fight, and Ferrari men who had figured Shelby's cars would not stand the pounding of so long an ordeal looked grim as the Holbert-MacDonald coup� led for hours on end. It was the spectators' turn to be glum when the Cobra caught fire from spilled gasoline in a freak pit accident and was—suddenly and shockingly—out. The Hill-Rodriguez Ferrari coasted to victory. Other unbreakable Ferraris were second, third and fifth.

But, watch out, Ferrari. The Gurney-Johnson Cobra was a creditable fourth, and Carroll Shelby had clearly demonstrated that the conquering Ferraris could be challenged.

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