It is just prior to the pace lap at Daytona for the Continental, a 2000 Km race held on February 2, 1964 and counting for the Manufacturers Championship. Here the starting field is lined up in pit lane with two Shelby Cobras in the front row. On pole is the brand new Cobra Daytona Coupe to be driven by Bob Holbert and Dave MacDonald while next to them is a standard Cobra, this one to be driven by Tommy Hitchcock, son of the famous polo player of the same name, and his friend Prince Zourab Tchkotoua. They also had French driver Jo Schlesser on hand for relief who was driving another Cobra with Frenchman Jean Guichet. Behind the Daytona Coupe is one of the three new Ferrari 250GTO/Comp 64s recently built by Ferrari, this one entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team and driven by the combination of Pedro Rodrigues and 1961 World Champion Phil Hill. Rodriguez stands next to the Ferrari before the start as a mechanic warms the engine.
After the start Holbert in the Daytona coupe swapped the lead back and forth with Rodriguez in the Ferrari. On the 50th lap the Cobra stopped for fuel with a modest lead over the Ferrari. With MacDonald now in the Cobra and Hill in the Ferrari, the battle continued. Slowly the Cobra pulled away and at the next round of stamps had expanded its lead to over a minute. That lead was extended to over four minutes at 200 laps. Now back in the Cobra, Holbert brought the car in with suspected rear axle problems and in the refueling process the car caught fire burning a crew member who was under it. Shelby chose to retire the Cobra at that time, although it might have been repairable.
This excitement left the Rodriguez/Hill Ferrari in the lead which it held on to the finish, four laps ahead of an earlier Ferrari 250GTO which finished second with another GTO third. The Hitchcock Cobra, the second fastest qualifier, would finish tenth.
Photos by Chuck Rogers ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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