In between there were other excitements—and disappointments. Danny Eames, chief test driver for Dodge, racked up two victories in the strictly stock division (no tricks like shaving treads off tires for smoother running), averaging 130.577 mph (a new record) in the flying mile, 81.786 in the standing mile. Vicki Wood of Detroit, like Betty Skelton a woman in a man's class, actually turned in a faster top speed for the flying mile than winner Tim Flock, in the same car, a Chrysler 300-B, when she ripped off the southbound run at 143.827 mph. Curtis Turner, a Virginia sportsman-lumberman, came back after a nearly disastrous fire in the Sportsman and Modified Race to win the new feature for convertibles, a 160-mile race on the Daytona circuit, with a record 96.11 mph average in a 1956 Ford. On the disappointment side were the departures, after nearly a week of waiting, of sports car aces Jim Kimberly and Briggs Cunningham, whose very fast cars—a 4.4 Ferrari and a D-Jaguar respectively—never really got a chance to show what they could do.
There were the inevitable hassles, too. John Fitch, late of Germany's Mercedes team, had a close brush with disqualification when his production Corvette was found to be weighted for better traction in an acceleration run. Frank Zirbes, of Fairview Park, Ohio, finishing eighth in the flying mile for production sports cars in his Thunderbird, was switched post factum to the Modified Sports Car class when his car was ruled to be not a strictly production model, and surprisingly found himself finishing second there (to Arkus-Duntov's tail-finned Corvette).
But the biggest hassle of all was totally unexpected—and, for a while, seemed likely to be totally final. On the night before the climactic Grand National race, 3,000 teen-age hot-rodders suddenly went berserk and stood the town of Daytona Beach on its ear. From informal drag races they went on to a rock-throwing, tire-slashing, window-breaking rampage which quickly overwhelmed the local police force and terrified residents and visitors alike. It was not until National Guard troops with loaded carbines arrived that the mob was brought under control.
A cynic—or a psychologist—might say that after a week of frustration followed by a week of violent speed the mob outbreak of youngsters was hardly surprising. For most of the 32,000 who trooped out to watch Tim Flock win the next day, it was almost a forgotten incident. As for Flock's victory, it would live for a year—but the fires lit in Detroit by the Corvette- Thunderbird duel are likely to burn brightly for a long and suspenseful time.
Despite its troubles with wind, tides and mobs, this year's week of speed at Daytona was another great success, both from the industry and the spectator standpoint. Yet one thing persisted to mar the colorful picture—cheating. As SI pointed out a year ago (March 14), if competitors in automotive events are to win and hold the full respect of the sporting public, they must richen up their mixture with some high-test honesty.