The legend of the Porsche 917 has it, that the car was such a frightening thing to drive, that many of the factory drivers felt a sense of relief when assigned to the lesser 908 open cockpit cars. With the 917s hitting warp speeds in excess of 240 mph at Le Mans, this isn’t surprising.
Now much has been made of the 917s exploits at Le Mans but the history of the 917 at Daytona is also quite interesting too. This is especially true when you hear stories about how Pedro Rodríguez would literally drift the 917 around the superspeedway bankings. Remember back in 1970, there was no bus stop chicane on the back straight to slow the cars down. This combined with a profound lack of downforce and bia-ply tires would certainly have made for a hairy ride.
This Gulf Oil promotional video will give you a good feel for the state of motorsport in 1970, both in terms of the cars, but also the role of personality and film-making. I can’t help but smile to myself when I see how formal JWA team boss John Wyer comes across in his interview. Times certainly have changed!