Daytona is a name with enormous resonance for motorsport fans. Since the early 20th century, the Floridian beach resort has played host to Land Speed Record attempts, epic beach races, the jewel in NASCAR’s crown, a 24-hour race reckoned by those in the know to be more gruelling even than Le Mans, and one of the classic motorcycle races. It’s also given its name to two iconic GT cars – the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’, and the Shelby Daytona Coupe.
The Daytona Coupe (no accent – this is a proudly American ‘coop’) was the result of Carroll Shelby’s desire to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. The Cobra Roadsters had plenty of power, but their barn-door aerodynamics severely limited top speed on the Mulsanne Straight. Thus a young designer named Peter Brock was charged with using the basic Cobra running gear to create something capable of keeping up with the Ferraris in a straight line. What he came up with was the Daytona Coupe, and the results were startling, including GT class wins at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona, Monza, Nurburgring, Reims and the TT at Goodwood, not to mention the 1965 World Sportscar Championship.
Only six Daytona Coupes were ever produced, and they had never been together. That is, until the 2015 Goodwood Revival, when all six cars came together for the first time, in the presence of Peter Brock and period drivers Allen Grant, Jack Sears and Jochen Neerpasch, to celebrate 50 years since their World Championship success.
Here is the first of a series of seven films we’ve created in tribute to one of the all-time great American racing cars.
Photography by Tom Shaxson and Pete Summers