From the Archive
Ferrari v Porsche – But Ford wins
Sebring is a tiny township in the centre of Florida, U.S.A. Despite the image conjured up by Palm Beach and Miami, most of Florida is drab, flat and largely semi-swampable. South of Sebring are hundreds of square miles of the Okaloacoochee Slough and the Big Cypress swamp containing areas reserved for the Seminole Indian Tribes.
Its hot sunny climate and big game fish explain the popularity of the Florida coast as a holiday area but the central parts are largely under developed. Sebring contains mostly motels and other facilities for the transient passing through to the southern coast, but once each year it comes to life when its ex-military airfield is the setting for the 12 Hours Sports Car Endurance Race.
There was a very strong entry for this, the 18th Sebring 12 hours race, counting as it does towards two World Championships, the Challenge Mondial de Vitesse et d’Endurance (first race of the series) and the International Manufacturers’ Championship (after Daytona – the second race of the series).
Numerically, Porsche had the most powerful team with five new prototypes on hand for Buzzetta/Stommelen, Ahrens/Herrmann, Mitter/Schutz, Elford/Attwood and Siffert/Redman, plus a spare. These were shortened “Spyder” versions of the 908, somewhat similar to the hill-climb cars. With minimal windscreen, as allowed under the new prototype rules, the car is only 28.8 in. high to the roll bar and weights 630 kg. (66 lb. Less than the closed 908). The engine is basically identical but no longer has the “flat” configuration of crankshaft, the consequent new firing order giving smoother running. This was done in an effort to remove the cause of the cracked exhaust and alternator drives that eliminated the cars at Daytona. Additionally the intermediate idler shaft in the drive train which had to drive the re-positioned alternator at Daytona has been changed from alloy to steel for more strength.