1970 was a good year to be at Daytona. The year before had only been fairly entertaining with five Porsches—all 911s–in the top ten finishers, but the big-iron Lola-Chevrolet T70s entered by Roger Penske and James Garner had dominated the field. In 1970 Porsche and Ferrari both had their own brand new big iron, the Lolas had gone the way of the proverbial snowball, and there was a serious new game afoot. Ferrari drivers included a pantheon of talent: Andretti, Merzario, Ickx, Posey, Parkes, Piper, and even Dan Gurney. Porsche’s guns were Rodriguez, Redman, Siffert and Kinnunen in the orange and blue Wyer cars, with Ahrens and Elford driving the Salzburg-sponsored 917K.
This relaxed scene was shot before the start of the race; Jo Siffert, in the white and blue driving suit, is enjoying a pleasant conversation. Behind him Ferdinand Piech, then head of Porsche engineering, smiles toward the camera as if to say “Do you like my latest creation?” Just off the left front tire is David Yorke of JW Engineering, an important force in the development and fielding of the car, his white shirt and sport coat a reminder that things were a bit more formal then. And is that legendary Porsche engineer Peter Falk standing between Siffert and Piech, examining his shoes? I think it might be.
But the dominant presence here is the blue and orange 917K, quietly waiting, almost ignored by those around it, one of the Gulf team even sitting casually on the left hand door. Homologated only a few months before after a frenetic ten month build-out and graced with major tweaks from the John Wyer collaboration, it was ready.
The race itself, as you no doubt know, was a lot more dramatic. While the #2 Porsche 917, masterfully driven by Rodriguez and Kinnunen (as well as briefly by Redman during the night) racked up an insurmountable lead, finishing almost 50-laps ahead of its Ferrari opposition, our #1 car survived a series of woes that put it behind the Ferrari in frantic contention for second place. Chasing the Ferrari like a madman and with only minutes left in the race, Siffert laid down a 1:48.7 lap, faster by three seconds than the time that had put Andretti on the pole. With the clock running down to zero, he caught and then passed the Andretti 512S at some 200mph, on the banking.
High drama indeed, although a recount of laps run revealed it unnecessary, with the 917K awarded its second place with a three lap cushion. In another irony of the race, since Redman was pressed into service in the other team car while his #1 car was getting a new clutch, he technically finished both first and second. I don’t think they gave him points for both.
It was a very good year indeed.
About Leonard Turner and “The Last Turn”
With a background in photography spanning more than 5 decades, Leonard Turner was Porsche Panorama’s chief photographer for some 40 years, shooting several hundred covers for the magazine and countless feature spreads involving racing, new car introductions, portraits, technical illustrations, and a plethora of other topics. In the course of doing this, he has traveled widely over the United States and Europe, visiting the Porsche factories and shooting at many venues, including a portfolio of the world’s greatest race tracks.
Leonard’s photographs have been published in many books including Porsche: Portrait of a Legend; Porsche Specials; Porsche, the 4-Cylinder, 4-Cam Sports & Racing Cars; Sebring, the Official History; Carrera RS; and Porsche: Prototype Era 1964 to 1973. His magazine credits, other than Panorama, include Autoweek, Road & Track, Automobile, Christophorus, and Excellence.
It was with this background in mind that we asked Leonard to open up his archives to share with you here on FLATSIXES.com. His personal files, both digital and film, contain tens of thousands of images of Porsches, Porsche people, and events they shaped and which shaped them. Our plan is to share one of Leonard’s images with you every other week, and the story behind it, in this newest feature, “The Last Turn” here on FLATSIXES.com.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
The Last Turn – Jo Siffert At Sebring In 1971
The Last Turn – Press Intro Of The Porsche 993
The Last Turn – Porsche GT1 Le Mans 1996
How To Get Personal Racing/Driving Tips From Derek Bell
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