1956 Sebring 12 Hours Grand Prix – Race Profile Page Ten
When the countdown ended the flag dropped and 59 drivers made the mad dash to their cars with some drivers of open cars not bothering with the door leaping right into the driver’s seat. Those few who had seat belts either took the time to hook them up or waited until they were cruising down the back airport straight to do so. The sight of those cars coming down the wide front straight six and sometimes eight abreast was something to behold.
Since his car was gridded first John Fitch’s 5-liter Corvette was the first to cross the start line at the AMOCO Bridge but before he could get to the first turn, 300 yards down the track, he was passed by the fuel injected Jaguar D-type of Mike Hawthorn. Amazingly Hawthorn’s car was gridded in eighth position but he blasted through the pack and passed Fitch’s car easily.
To some observers Stirling Moss was the first away from the starting grid but since he was twenty-sixth in line he had his work cut out for him if he was going to position himself among the early leaders. Position himself he did because at the end of the first lap he was running second behind Hawthorn by ten seconds. He did this with some all-out aggressive driving sliding his car through the turns literally on the edge but never losing control of the car. Fangio was six seconds behind Moss and his driving style was just the opposite of Moss’s. Fangio looked to some as if he was out for a Sunday drive. There was just a hint of a turn of the steering wheel going into the turns and his car responded as if they were one. He was in his element as he casually tooled along. Carroll Shelby was fourth, twelve seconds behind Fangio.