The organisers of the annual American long-distance classic made themselves rather unpopular with certain parts of Europe, by allowing unlimited capacity sports cars into the race that is normally for Prototype GT cars and homologated GT cars. However, this stand against the F.I.A paid off, for it produced an all-American win by Jim Hall and Hap Sharp in a Chevrolet-powered Chaparral built by Hall, with a lot of technical know-how provided by General Motors. In second place was the Shelby-American-entered Ford GT coupé of McLaren/Miles, another Detroit-sponsored car, while in third place was the privately-owned Ferrari 275LM of David Piper, assisted by Tony Maggs, a most praiseworthy effort by a true private owner.
There was the very large entry of 66 cars, which meant that at least 132 drivers were required, and it really is impossible to assemble that number of competent racing drivers, especially when many of the cars possessed 300 b.h.p or more, with the result that there were a number of crashes during the event; a tropical storm during the race did not help matters.
The winning Chaparral has been a strong force in American sports-car racing for some time, but F.I.A. rules have kept it out of important International long-distance events. Constructed in monocoque form, of fibre-glass, the 5.3-litre Chevrolet V8 engine is mounted amidships, behind the driver, and a General Motors automatic 2-speed transmission is used. For some while now it has been known that G.M. were taking a keen interest in Hall’s Chaparral, just as Ford used to be interested in Shelby’s Cobras, before they came out into the open with their own GT coupé. The Sebring 12-hour race saw a great deal more General Motors activity, both in serious long-distance testing before the race and during the event itself. It seems safe to say that 1965 has seen the beginning of open and undisguised battle between the technical might and money of the two giants of the American automobile world, Ford v. General Motors. The prospects of this battle caused Ferrari to refuse to enter his cars for the Sebring race. I wonder how long it will be before this battle spreads to the racing circuits of Europe, and whether it will cause Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, or even Fiat or Renault, to take an interest in the racing scene, whether the battle is waged in sports cars, GT cars or single-seater cars. – D.S.J.
Sebring 12 Hours – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. – March 27th – 8.368-kilometre circuit
1st: J. Hall/H. Sharp (Chaparral-Chevrolet V8) – 196 laps – 136.349 k.p.h.
2nd: B. McLaren/K. Miles (Ford GT Prototype) – 192 laps*
3rd: D. Piper/A. Maggs (Ferrari 275LM Prototype) – 190 laps.
4th: J. Schlesser/R. Bondurant (A.C. Cobra coupé) – 187 laps.
5th: L. Underwood/G. Klaas (Porsche 904 GTS) – 185 laps.
6th: B. Pon/J. Buzzetta (Porsche 904 GTS) – 185 laps.
7th: R. Johnson/T. Payne (A.C. Cobra) – 184 laps.
8th: U. Maglioli/G. Baghetti (Ferrari 275P) – 184 laps.
9th: H. Linge/G. Mitter (Porsche 908 prototype) – 184 laps
10th: S. Patrick/D. Jordan (Porsche 904 GTS) – 183 laps.
Fastest lap: J. Hall (Chaparral-Chevrolet), in 2 minutes, 59.3 seconds – 163.031 k.p.h. (new record)
Sebring 3-hour Race – Touring Cars on short circuit – March 26th.
The Ford Lotus-Cortinas of Clark and Sears dominated this event, in spite of factory opposition from B.M.W and Alfa Romeo.
1st: J. Clark (Ford Lotus-Cortina) – 119 laps – 139.822 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Sears (Ford Lotus-Cortina) – 117 laps.
3rd: D. Glemser (B.M.W 1800 TiSA) – 117 laps.