SI Vault
 
GAS PAINS STRIKE AT DAYTONA
Robert F. Jones
February 09, 1976
First BMW driver Peter Gregg complained of food poisoning, but the real agony for his victorious team was the discovery of mysteriously watered fuel
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 09, 1976

Gas Pains Strike At Daytona

First BMW driver Peter Gregg complained of food poisoning, but the real agony for his victorious team was the discovery of mysteriously watered fuel

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

How had the gas flap happened? The 104-octane fuel, pumped fresh during the race weekend into the trackside station, was checked and found to be untainted. Then the tank truck that delivers fuel to the pits was examined; one of its three compartments revealed emulsified water—water that had not been in there long enough to have sunk, with its greater specific gravity, to the tank's bottom. Though eight men watch over the station and the truck at all times, the possibility of sabotage could not be ruled out; indeed, it seemed the logical explanation. Union Oil officials quickly impounded the gas truck and began an investigation. Meanwhile, a truckload of fresh gas came zooming down from Jacksonville, pedal to the metal, probably setting a new speed record for I-95.

The race resumed shortly before 1 p.m. and the Gregg-Redman car, running on only five of its six cylinders now, gingerly retained its lead. A rainstorm that sloshed in complicated conditions but not the inevitable finish. When the checkered flag fell on schedule, two hours after the unusual command of "Gentlemen, restart your engines," Peter Gregg had become the first driver ever to share three victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona. He and Redman covered 545 laps—2,092.8 miles, at an average speed of 104.04 mph, exclusive of the prolonged fuel crisis-provoked pit stop—and in the process won nearly $20,000.

More important, the race demonstrated the potential of the Grand International cars as road racers and with it the worth of the lumper philosophy: sure, let everyone race, the more the merrier—and the hairier.

1 2