Author Topic: Daytona Int. Speedway: Multiple 1968 Camaro RS/SS Convertibles at Daytona 500  (Read 78 times)

SMKZ28

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Multiple white 1968 Camaro RS/SS 396 convertibles were used during the Daytona 500 NASCAR Grand National race held at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on Sunday, February 25, 1968.  Two were used as the pace cars for the event.  They both had rally wheels, red line tires, a rear spoiler, bumper guards and a white convertible top.  They were painted white with a black nose stripe and they featured special red stickers/decals with black borders that appeared on the sides of the car as well as on the leading edge of the hood behind the nose stripe.  The words "DAYTONA 500" appeared on the portion of the stripe on the front fenders.  More than likely one of these or perhaps both were used during the race events held earlier in the month, albeit with different lettering on the front fenders (see earlier threads on Daytona 24 Hours and Permatex 300).

Pictures:

1) Getty Images
2 - 3) Peterson Auto Museum SEMA digitization project web site: https://archive.petersen.org/pages/home.php

SMKZ28

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1) This great color shot shows two of the Camaros on the grid prior to the parade and pace laps for the Daytona 500.  Jon Mello posted it in a different thread on this web site.

2) This photo shows one of the Camaros at the head of the field on the parade/pace laps prior to the start of the race.  (Peterson Automotive Museum SEMA Digitization Project: https://archive.petersen.org/pages/home.php)

3) This photo shows the Camaro pace car turning off into pit lane just prior to the green flag flying.  (Youtube)

4) This pictures shows the Camaro at the end of the race in front of the winning 1968 Mercury driven by Cale Yarborough.  The wreath that would be placed around his neck in victory lane can be seen sticking up in the back seat.  (Peterson Automotive Museum SEMA Digitization Project: https://archive.petersen.org/pages/home.php)

SMKZ28

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Here are some cool home movies from the 1968 Daytona 500 weekend (practice and race).  The end shows the 1968 Camaro RS/SS convertible pace car carrying the winner, Cale Yarborough, in the backseat with the victory wreath around his neck. The best part is that it is in color: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Fx5MoJrpo

You can see the Camaro briefly in the pits after releasing the cars to the green flag after the pace lap between 5:37 - 5:39, but the best part shows the Camaro up close after the conclusion of the race between 8:13 and 8:40.

SMKZ28

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This different home movie footage of the Daytona 500 shows the pre-race activities, including a parade around the track featuring 3 different Camaro convertibles carrying important people.  These do not have the red and black side stripes that the pace cars have but they do seem to be lettered up for something.  I believe they are pace cars from other race tracks on the NASCAR schedule parading around the track in order to help advertise future race events.  In addition, the two Camaro RS/SS 396 convertible pace cars can also be seen several times.  One of them appears in the parade.  See the footage here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7IHRLPpAtk

First parade Camaro: 0:42-0:48
Second parade Camaro: 0:49-0:58
Third parade Camaro: 1:18-1:24
Camaro Pace Car in parade: 3:20-3:28
Pace lap: 3:45-4:07
Caution lap: 6:29-6:39

SMKZ28

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1) Event Program cover (worthpoint.com)
2) Camaro/Corvette ad that appeared in the event program (worthpoint.com)
3) Tickets to the event (worthpoint.com)


SMKZ28

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Here is an interesting fact I found about the 1968 Daytona 500. Robert Gregory Hendrix on the Stock Car Racers Reunion web site stated that, "Greg Fielden's book 40 Years of Stock Car Racing Volume 3 says on page 169 that the frequent caution flags caused 2 pace cars, both Chevrolet Camaro's, to overheat, and a 3rd pace car had to be brought in." Apparently eleven caution periods, adding up to almost a third of the race, were needed to clean up multiple accidents. He did go on to say that the book makes no mention of what kind of car the third pace car was. 

Perhaps this 3rd pace car was the car that appears in the following photo.  This Camaro is lettered up completely differently from the pace cars that display the red and black stripes along the side of the car.  This picture used to be on the Daytona International Speedway web site where it was titled "1968 Daytona 500 pace car."  I found this version on worthpoint.com 

If it is not a 3rd Camaro pace car, another possible scenario is that this is one of the two cars seen in the all of the earlier posted photos but it was lettered and decorated this way weeks or months prior to the events of February 1968.  Maybe they spent the time leading up to the events looking like this but were then changed to the red and black stripes for the events themselves. 

Does anyone know??

69Z28-RS

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Does anyone know what speed they were running on the Daytona caution laps at that time??

PS:  From the reported data I could find, in that race they experienced 11 cautions for a total of 60 laps (150 miles of the 500 mile race).  The Average speed of the winner (Cale Yarbrough) was 143.251 mph for the 500 miles.   The total race time was 3.5 hrs.   If I estimate the avg speed during 'hot laps' at 185 mph (based on the 189+ mph qualifying speed) then the hot laps took ~ 1.9 hrs of the race (at speed), leaving ~1.6 hrs of the race being ran under caution.   With 150 miles of the race being ran under caution (in 1.6 hrs), the avg speed during the 'caution laps' was slightly over 90 mph!   So Basically during this race, there were 11 periods of ~ 5.5 laps each (12-13 miles) ran at speeds over 90 mph (For the pace cars as well)!

I'd guess taking even a prepped stock '68 Camaro and running it for 12-13 miles at over 90 mph WOULD cause some heating problems (certainly given no opportunity to cruise at 60 for the engine coolant to cool).. so it doesn't surprise me at all that the pace cars suffered from overheating!  :)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 02:54:41 PM by 69Z28-RS »
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