Color images from the 1960s and earlier are rare in the Petersen photo archive. Rarer still are color photos from anything other than carefully staged cover shoots. So we were drawn to this photo of the red, white and blue Sunray DX Oil-sponsored Corvettes at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona.
There were six Corvettes entered at Daytona in 1968, so the Sunray DX team made up fully half of that roster. This race marked the debut of the Mako-shark-inspired 1968 body style, and Don Yenko prepped two 1968 Vettes in DX livery especially for this race.
Yenko had ordered an L88-powered 1968 model to drive in the race with co-driver Peter Revson. When it didn’t arrive on time, he grabbed a red roadster off his dealer lot and built it into the #29 car you see here. A brand-new L88 was put into the engine bay, the chassis was upgraded with the heavy-duty suspension and metallic disc brakes, and he added a fuel cell, rollcage, auxiliary lighting and other race equipment.
The second 1968 Vette, #30, was purchased for Tony DeLorenzo so he and Jerry Thompson could join Yenko’s team. The car was originally equipped with an L89 big-block, but the engine was rebuilt to L88 specs (and substituted an 850-cfm Holley for the Tri-power induction). It, too, received racing upgrades that included the J56 big brakes, a rollbar and a fuel cell.
Representing the old guard was car #31, an L88-powered 1967 Vette that Yenko and Dave Morgan had raced the year before. At Sebring in 1967 the Vette finished 1st in the GT class despite a brake failure and resulting off-track excursion that put them in the sand 40 minutes before the end of the race. With Yenko in the new car for Daytona, driving duties for #31 fell to Morgan and Jerry Grant.
As it turned out, newer isn’t necessarily better. Both of the 1968 Vettes experienced mechanical problems during the race. Yenko and Revson, who at one time had climbed through the field to 8th overall, finished 25th overall and 4th in the GT class. DeLorenzo and Thompson came in 27th overall and 5th in GT.
Morgan and Grant, on the other hand, wheeled the veteran 1967 to a 10th place overall finish and 1st in GT. Among the secrets of their success: The car spent less than 60 total minutes in the pits during the race’s duration.
Despite the disparity in their finishing order—Morgan and Grant completed about 100 more laps than either of the 1968 Vettes—the three grouped up while crossing the finish line for a priceless photo op for their sponsor.