Many of the leading manufacturers set to battle at this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida were major players in the same race at Sebring 50 years ago.
Ford, Ferrari, Porsche and Chevrolet all came to Sebring as contenders on April 1, 1967, the only time the Sebring Twelve Hour race was not run in March. The first twelve-hour contest had taken place only 15 years beforehand after the runways of Hendricks Field, a World War II B-17 training base, was converted into a racetrack. To this day, Sebring International Raceway (SIR) remains America’s oldest road racing track.
“Sebring International Raceway opened shortly after Pearl Harbor,” said SIR President and General Manager Wayne Estes. “After the guys here won the war, it was five years later that sports cars were running around here. It’s something that everyone here takes great pride in. A lot of the things that were here during those army airfield years are still in place and that is a heritage that we embrace.”
For the overall win in 1967, it looked to be a battle between the new Ford Mk IV, the exotic Chaparral 2D with its famous adjustable rear wing, and the Alfa Romeo T33. However, it didn’t take long for Ford to show dominance over the 58 car field.
To start the race, Mario Andretti, co-driving with Bruce McLaren in the Ford, had won the pole position at 111.43 miles per hour with a record time, one of two poles scored by Ford at the historic event. After the Alfa and the Chaparral retired early in the race, the Ford of Andretti and McLaren recorded the most dominating victory in Sebring history, winning by 12 laps over fellow-Ford drivers A.J. Foyt and Lloyd Ruby. It was the first time at Sebring the winning car averaged over 100 mph on the tough 5.2-mile circuit. Throughout SIR’s storied history, Ford has a total of three overall wins, plus three additional class wins at the Sebring Twelve Hour.
Porsche earned a class win and third overall with Gerhard Mitter and Scooter Patrick driving a Porsche 910, closely followed by teammates Hans Hermann and Jo Siffert in fourth. A Sunray DX Corvette captured the important GT victory and finished 10th overall with Don Yenko and Dave Morgan behind the wheel of the Chevrolet machine.
The most impressive finish for Ferrari was by the all-female team of Denise McCluggage and Pinkie Rollo, taking second in their class driving a Ferrari 275GTB Spyder. Ferrari comes into this year’s Twelve Hour race looking to defend its GT Daytona win from 2016 with Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen and new-for-the-season driver Sam Bird in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3.
“The winners here read like an International Motorsports Hall of Fame,” said Estes. “Everyone from Foyt to Andretti and Fittipaldi, the names just go on and on. This is a place where Dan Gurney and Juan Manuel Fangio and Graham Hill and the names that are winners here, it’s the kind of thing that gives you goosebumps.”
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida takes place March 15-18, 2017. The race will be aired on FS1 from 12:30 to 11:00 p.m. ET, with flag-to-flag coverage on Fox Sports Go starting at 10:30 a.m. ET.
A limited number of reserved trackside Parking/Camping spaces are available at selected turns around Sebring’s 3.74-mile circuit. If you want the ultimate front row seat at America’s greatest endurance racing tradition, now is your chance. Although the Hairpin is sold out, a few spots remain at other turns. Call 800.626.7223 for availability, or visit www.SebringRaceway.com and get your tickets for the race!