The Sebring Race
(by an American correspondent)
Sports-car racing in the United States got off to a flying start in Sebring, Florida, where 32 of the world’s foremost sports-cars battled for twelve hours before an estimated crowd of 15,000 spectators. In spite of threatening weather, which postponed practice and the start, this International race (sponsored by Sebring Fireman Inc) was run off without a single accident and met with spontaneous acclaim.
Stirling Moss and Archie Bryde were absent, due to an accident to their Ferrari and Moss couldn’t accept an American offer of another Ferrari because of the proximity of the Monza race. The new Cunningham was scratched because of teething troubles.
Half an hour before the start the cars and drivers were in their respective positions. Chief Steward Alec Ulmann, in a last minute resume, warned the drivers, mechanics, and pit-crews of the penalties which would be imposed on the contestants for any Le Mans-rule violations. Russ Boss AAA Contest Board Member and Chief Starter of the race, went over and reviewed the flag routine. Promptly at 1.05 pm, after a Le Mans-type start, Spear’s 4.1 Ferrari took the lead, which it did not relinquish in spite of refuelling and change of drivers until its 50th lap, when it went into the pits with Briggs Cunningham at the wheel and retired because of rear-end trouble.
At 6.45 pm the Chief AAA Flag Man, Russ Boss, signalled for lights to all contestants; pit stewards saw to it that incoming cars refuelling at pits were properly instructed. Strict supervision by officials was maintained regarding the trespassing rule which required that only two men per entry were allowed over the pit line, this number including the driver. At the half-way mark 12 of the starters were eliminated due to various engine and running gear failures. Simpson’s Ferrari broke a fuel line on the back leg and ran out of gas on the 25th lap. The Jaguar XK120, driven by MacDonald and Kennedy, retired after the 39th lap with no oil pressure. Joe Ferguson’s Siata, powered by the latest modified 1,509-cc FIAT engine, experienced head gasket difficulties on the 15th lap and the great pre-race favourite, the Aston-Martin of Dave Hirsch with Bob Gagan as co-driver, was abandoned at the first chicane on the 29th lap with the shock-absorbers out of commission, which showed a wise decision and consideration for other contestants on this tortuous course.
At the half-way mark. the index of performance leader was the little DB driven by Morehouse and Lanning, while its team mate had just pulled into the pits, its dynamo being worked on frantically by the Bonnet brothers. Second position was held by the Crosley-powered Siata of Linton and Scatchard and the Siata of Irish and Richard Fergus replaced the ill-fated DB of Rene Bonnet and Bill Cook. Within an hour’s running, Irish’s Siata switched places with Dave Ash’s MG, which took over third place until it was signalled into the pits because of a safety violation. Fourth place was held by Larry Kulok and Harry Gray in the formidable Frazer-Nash.
After-dark retirements included the Grier Cadillac-Allard, co-driven by Collins, the Ceresole-Greenwood Cisitalia and the Linton-Scatchard Siata. At 1 am the checkered flag was given to the winners, the DB on handicap and the Frazer-Nash on distance. There were still 15 other participants roaring around the circuit and streaking down the one mile straights at speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Other entries credited with finishing : R Wing and Spitler (Morris Minor), George Sanderson (Crosley). G Schraftt and Dave Visit (Crosley). F Dagarar and J Rogers (Jaguar). Paul Ramos and T Comming (supercharged MG) were awarded second place in Class D in accordance with Le Mans rules, which require that a supercharged car be doubled in its cubic displacement. Because of this ruling this MG had to compete against the 2.5-litre class, which included Aston-Martin, Ferrari and Morgan.