Walking distance from where I live is the finish line for one of the most famous unofficial races in world history. The spot is the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California.
In a zany, unsanctioned 1971 run across country, Dan Gurney and Brock Yates dashed from the Atlantic coast to Redondo Beach, traveling 2,863 miles in 35 hours and 54 minutes.
The Sea-To-Shining-Sea Dash became known as the Cannonball Run. Their weapon of choice for the Cannonball was the Ferrari 365 GTB/4, now known to everyone as the Ferrari Daytona.
Both race and car are legendary, and the Daytona has often been described as one of the top 10 Ferraris ever built. From the long front hood to the truncated rear, the silhouette is a bullet, designed to cheat the wind. Unlike its beautiful predecessor 275 GTB, this car was 3500 pounds of testosterone-laced road rage.
Modern supercars are more or less unisex, but in the early 70’s it took really muscle to wield this car, but the Ferrari Daytona wasn’t produced to make parking easier; it was built for those capable of handing 352 HP in a time when the only electronics were window lifts and radios.
Behind the wheel, this car isn’t delicate. Masculine in the extreme, you’ll use your arms and legs to steer and shift the 365 GTB/4, but that heavy steering lightens up around 60 miles an hour, taking you where this car was born to run, somewhere near a 175 mile an hour top speed.
The Ferrari Daytona is one of the very few cars capable of straddling vintage and contemporary, and driving it today is pure joy. Six twin-choke Weber carburetors feed the four-cam 4.4-litre V12, and the noise is intoxicating and something to be experienced.
Designed for Grand Touring and not a pure sports car, the Ferrari Daytona is considered by many to be the template for a generation of GT cars, especially today’s Ferrari F12.
This Ferrari is a rogue, a pirate, and in a testament to strength, five years after production ended, a 1973 car achieved a class victory and second overall in the 1979 24 Hours of Daytona.
If I had to explain to someone what the Ferrari myth is all about, I would simply give them a ride in this car.
At Continental AutoSports, stop by for a test drive. Fire it up, fill it up and point it west, knowing ahead of time you’re only 24 hours from the coast. I’ll meet you at the Portofino Inn and drinks are on me.