The Joest Team (Rolf Stommelen, Reinhold Joest, Volkert Merl) celebrating victory at the 1980 Daytona 24H

The 1980 Daytona 24H  was the first race of  the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP).  With no less than 16 Porsche 935s on the entrylist, alongside a handful  of new GTP cars, it is no surprise that the race would be a battle of the Porsche 935s. Next to these cars, you could find some Porsche 911 RSRs and Porsche 914s on the startgrid too. 93 cars were listed, 85 of them showed up in the practice sessions.

1980 Daytona 24H
Getting ready for the startgrid

An uninvincable armada of Porsche 935s

Most of the Porsche 935s were Porsche 935 K3s, the latest Kremer brothers creation. Interscope Racing purchased one which would be driven by Ted Field and Danny Ongais. Dick Barbour entered 2 cars, a Porsche 935K3 and a stock Porshe 935.  Joest Racing, who had a very modified Porsche 935,  called the Porsche 935J. The Joest Racing team was exclusively German driven, with Rolf Stommelen, Volkert Merl and Reinhold Joest at the wheel. The Whittington Bros entered a Porsche 935K3 aswel as a standard Porsche 935, just as Dick Barbour.  Brumos Racing entered their own interpretation of the Porsche 935 with a unique design, much closer to the 935J. Hurley Haywood, Bruce Leven and Peter Gregg would share the wheel. 

1980 Daytona 24H
The Brumos Porsche #59

The practice sessions would determine which Porsche 935 would start from the pole. Don Whittington turned out to be the fastest with a new official lap record time. Rolf Stommelen had a qualifying engine, but he blew it. He would then use his racing engine to qualify in second place. John Fitzpatrick was third, just ahead of Peter Gregg.

1980 Daytona 24H
Whittington Porsche 935

At the start, Don Whittington jumped from his pole position into the lead. Convinced of their car’s invincibility, Bill Whittington boosted the car and took a 3 second lead on Reinhold Joest. Behind them came a snaking train of Porshe 935s. They stayed in formation for about 5 hours in the race .  The first refueling session would take place after about 45 minutes. Of the top drivers, John Fitzpatrick came first in the pits for refueling. Reinhold Joest, who had a smaller engine, would run four more laps before refueling. His stop was a little longer than Don Whittington’s because  Rolf Stommelen took over. 

1980 Daytona 24H Joest Porsche 935J
1980 Daytona 24H Joest Porsche 935J

The night falls at Daytona

The pattern in front broke by Saturday evening. Oil leaking cars made the track more slick and Paul Miller tossed one of the Barbour Porsche 935 K3s into the wall. A yellow flag followed, but a poor placement of the pace car made the Interscope Porsche 935 K3 loose a lap. Don Whittington on the other hand passed under yellow flag with a logical penalty as a consequence. The Joest Porsche 935J stayed out of trouble and took the opportunity to open up a gap to the rest of the field.  During the night, they tried to keep the pace. The Whittington Porsche however started a chase during the night. 

The leading duo never skipped a beat,while behind them the Porsche started to retire. The Preston Henn Porsche (John Paul Sr  / Al Holbert) suffered a broken oil-line, just as the Ted Fields Porsche 935 K3. The Brumos Porsche coped with a broken suspension. Manfred Schurti slammed into another car, but the Barbour mechanics managed to bring it back on the track so it could finish the race on its own wheels. The Joest team ran a good pace so make sure they were never really bothered by the Whittingtons

The finish of the 1980Daytona 24H
The finish of the 1980Daytona 24H (c) Bob Harmeyer

The Joest Team wins the race with 33 laps advantage on the #09 Porsche 935 K3. Ted Field, Danny Ongais and Milt Minter finished in third place with the #0 Porsche 935 K3 entered by Interscope Racing. Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood and Bruce Leven were fifth, with an obviously slower car. 

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Pictures courtesy  Porsche AG, Wayne Elwood, Paul Woodbury and Bob Harmeyer