Friday, June 3, 2011
10,000 miles in 5,000 minutes
It was a great way to get around a sticky PR problem. The Automobile Manufacturers Association had banned factory participation in racing, or advertising race outcomes, back in 1957 as a way of trying to combat street racing. But everyone knew "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" was the mantra of the industry. So manufacturers in the late '50s looked for increasingly clever ways to display the performance potential of their automobiles.
Enter Jerry Rideout, Buick's legendary PR Guru and Dean of the Buick Open. He thought that an extended high speed Buick speed test would get around the ban and testify to the high speed capabilities of the new 1960 Buick automobile. So a pair of red and white Invicta hardtop was ordered and specially prepared.
The Buick team descended on Daytona. They had two "durability" cars, a high speed refueling Invicta (to eliminate fuel stops) and a stable of famous drivers including Marvin Panch, Tiny Lund, Ralph Moody, Larry Flynn, Bobby Johns, Larry Frank, and Fireball Roberts.
After a false start, the event was a success and the Invicta ran 10,000 miles in just under 5,000 minutes- three and a half days basically nonstop at an average speed of 120.186 mph- for 10,000 miles!
After the event, Jerry Rideout was told NOT to promote the event- it was too similar to racing- but he was not easily deterred. he simply "leaked" the story to the Detroit News, Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated and a few others. There was even an 18 minute film prepared by GM Photographic that told the story and highlighted the safety and durability of the 1960 Buick. It is presented here in two parts.
And you can read more about it here.
Sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness.