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  • The Incredible Buick Test 1960

Buick's Secret Daytona Test

by Gregory L. Cockerill
from  www.the1960buick.com


One of the best kept secrets about the 1960 Buick was the Daytona durability run.  This scheme was the brainchild of Buick’s PR director, Jerry Rideout, and was conducted during early January 1960.

The idea was to prove Buick’s reliability by driving a stock 1960 Invicta coupe on the Daytona track for 10,000 continuous miles, at an average speed of 120 mph!  To accomplish this, six professional drivers were used, each in a 2-hour shift.  Pit stops were used for tires (only 1000 miles per set) and driver changes.
Refueling, however, was handled in a very different and innovative way.  Inspired by the military’s mid-air refueling of planes, Buick engineers developed a method to do the same with the Invicta.  A chase car was built with a long refueling nozzle and apparatus to deliver 15 gallons of fuel in 6 seconds.  During the course of the Daytona run, 78 such refuelings were conducted at speeds between 115 and 125 mph!

The 10,000 mile run was successful, and Buick was awarded a Certificate of Outstanding Performance from NASCAR president Bill France.  The final tally was 10,000 miles in under 5000 minutes; average speed was 120.186 mph. By the way, the six drivers used on this feat include some names you will recognize: Larry Flynn, Bobby Johns, Tiny Lund, Larry Frank, Ralph Moody, Fireball Roberts, Marvin Panch (with Marvette and Richie).

Unfortunately, the entire affair smelled too much like racing for GM management, and Buick was told to put a lid on it.  Not one to be shut down, Jerry Rideout “leaked” news of the accomplishment to the press.  The Detroit News broke the story (1/19/60).  Both Motor Trend (April 1960) and Mechanix Illustrated (June 1960) had feature articles.  An 18-minute movie of the event made by GM Photographic was eventually shown at dealer training meetings, but by then it was old news.  (Today, a video of the movie can be purchased from Dart Video Group, P.O. Box 190778 Mobile Alabama 36619.

Re-fueling at 120 MPH!

This is a reprint of a certificate presented to Buick Motor Division Management in 1960 certifying a major 1960 Buick Endurance Test. A standard 1960 Buick Invicta was taken off the assembly line and taken to the Daytona International Speedway. Equipped with special tires and exhausts the car drove day and night, refueling on the go for 10,000 miles without stopping. The car averaged 120.186 MPH. The car set over 10 endurance records for the time. Day and Night drivers included Larry Flynn, Larry Frank, Bobby Johns, Tiny Lund, Ralph Moody, Marvin Panch, and Fireball Roberts. Their names are on the certificate. Buick had hoped to pull off one of the marketing home runs for the year. Unfortunately, General Motors did not allow Buick to advertise this incredible feat because it indicated speed which was a no-no during this time of GM history. This reprint of the original certificate has been in my personal collection since 1960 and I am not aware of other certificates. There is some shelf wear to the frame and some slight discoloration to the certificate itself, however overall this has to be classified as being in excellent condition. This is a very rare piece of Buick Nascar history and should be preserved by a serious collector. It is signed by Bill France, Sr. who was then President of NASCAR.


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