1956 Sebring 12 Hours Grand Prix – Race Profile Page Twelve
At the end of the first hour Hawthorn’s Jaguar D-type still held the lead followed by Moss in an Aston Martin, Fangio and Musso in Ferraris and Duncan Hamilton in another D-type Jaguar. As it would turn out a close fought battle between the factory D-Jags and factory 860 Monzas would ensue for almost eight grueling hours. There would be at least nine lead changes as a leader would pit and almost immediately give up the lead to a competitor and then regain the lead when that car had to pit. It was endurance racing at its best.
At noon Fangio was in the pits after running a lap of more than five minutes. Hawthorn was also in the pits and Moss briefly took over the lead only to hand it to Fangio when at the next pit stop. Taking over second place was Musso’s Ferrari with Jean Behra’s Maserati now in third. Bill Spear in his D-Jag was now in fourth and Duncan Hamilton in another D-Jag was fifth.
Just after the start of the third hour of racing Carlos Menditeguy of Argentina, driving a 3-liter Maserati, hit hay bales in the Esses and flipped. He suffered serious injuries with skull fractures and deep lacerations of the face and arm. After a short delay while he lay bleeding on the track Menditeguy was finally rushed to the American Red Cross mobile hospital unit brought up from Miami for the race. There they stabilized him before he was transported to Weems Hospital in Sebring. His co-driver Cesare Perdisa would transfer to the Behra – Taruffi Maserati 300S.
Around this time Stirling Moss pulled into the pits. When out of the car he expressed doubts if the car could last the race. The mechanics did what they could for the car and co-driver Peter Collins took a turn at the wheel. Already the hot day, punishing pace and rough Sebring track had taken their toll with seventeen cars having withdrawn from the race. Hawthorn was still first at this hour with Behra second, Fangio third, Collins fourth and the 3.5 liter Ferrari of Alfonso de Portago moving into fifth.
For the next couple of hours the lead changed several times between Hawthorn and Fangio with Behra, Collins, Hamilton, Portago and Shelby competing for a spot in the top five.
Around 3 p.m. the Duncan Hamilton-Ivor Bueb Jaguar suffered an exploded brake cylinder and retired. The Moss-Collins Aston Martin was parked on the course with a frozen gearbox. Collins had been driving and he managed to park his car under the wing of an old World War II military plane to get some shade and get the car out of harm’s way.