Photo Gallery: Sebring 12 Hours – a superstar age 1950s – 1970s
The Sebring 12 Hours is the least well known of sportscar racing’s golden trilogy, along with the Daytona 24 Hours and the crême de la crême, the Le Mans 24 Hours. In its day it drew racing’s stars of the time.
By Andy Hallbery. Photos by Bernard Cahier
This month’s Sebring heralded the start of the road racing season in America, and is just as much of a challenge then as it is now. In its heyday, F1 stars would take on the world’s best, and the manufacturers too, would take on its challenge.
Think of that era, and you think of Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, Aston Martin and Jaguar. Just as, in the same breath, you would talk of Andretti, Fangio, Foyt, Gurney, Ickx and McQueen. McQueen…? Steve McQueen…? Yes, the Hollywood star finished second in 1970, with Peter Revson, winning their class, and just seconds away from Andretti and overall victory.
The track has changed very little, while the cars have. As with tradition with 12 Hours starts in daylight and the chequered flags wave in darkness 12 hours later after the drivers have fought a track which has changed little over the years. On driver remarked that “12 Hours here is the same as 24 at Le Mans”, while another suggested that there are world rally stages with less bumps in.
As in the middle of last century, dusk will go hand-in-hand with a jaw-dropping sunset, as the competitors continue to be beaten up in the fight against the track. At night, the speed differentials between the cars seem to be magnified. They are not, of course, the headlights helping the leaders to carve by the slower cars
Today the Sebring 12 Hours still draws an enormous crowd, watching cars of today and seeing cars of yesterday, and have a party. All the things fans do at Le Mans.
For us looking back on that age from the 1950s-70s, there can be no better person to have been there with his camera: Bernard Cahier, the good friend of many of the drivers, and of those we call legends. Here is Sebring as seen by Cahier.
Photos: Bernard Cahier, Cahier Archive, http://www.f1-photo.com/