1958 12 Hours of Sebring – Anglo-Americans and the Redhead

1958 12 Hours of Sebring – Anglo-Americans and the Redhead

1958 12 Hours of Sebring by Ed McDonoughStory and photos by Ed McDonough

1957 and 1958 were interesting years in international sports car racing, when it could be argued that sports cars turned into sports racing cars, in spite of efforts to make them more like what they started out to be! But higher windscreens were unlikely to achieve much!

It was clearly Ferrari vs. Maserati, with 290MMs from Ferrari beating the 300S from Maserati at Sebring, and then the 315S Ferrari took that tragic Mille Miglia. Aston Martin intervened at the Nurburgring and Jaguars swept Le Mans. The Maserati 450S took a win in Sweden, but Peter Collins and Phil Hill in a Ferrari 335S won in Venezuela and that gave the championship to Enzo Ferrari.

New rules appeared in 1958, and Maserati was on the brink of financial crisis, and had failed to develop the 300S for the new three-liter rules. At Buenos Aires in January, two new Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa entries in the hands of Hill/Collins and von Trips, Gendebien and Musso took the win. At Sebring the sleek new ‘redhead’ would do it again, and for the rest of the season, Aston Martin would be the only other team to get to the top of the podium.

Though 1958 would also begin to see the rise in favour of Grand Touring cars, the outright winners were always going to come from the new generation of racing sports cars. Ferrari had six of the Testa Rossas at Sebring, three private cars and three works machines for Hill/Collins, Musso/Gendebien and Mike Hawthorn/von Trips. The opposition would no longer come from Maserati…there were only two there and they were private entries…but from Aston Martin.

Aston Martin sent the DBR1 for Stirling Moss/Tony Brooks and Carroll Shelby/Roy Salvadori, and there was a GT entry of a DB2/4 MkIII for George Constantine and John Dalton. That car now belongs to John Goss and is alive and well and still racing! There were also some quick looking Jaguars though the Coventry firm products were a bit out-classed by now. There were Ecurie Ecosse D-Types for Ron Flockhart and Masten Gregory, and for Ninian Sanderson/Ivor Bueb, with a Cunningham car for Briggs himself and Walt Hansgen. Cunningham also entered two Lister-Jaguars for Ed Crawford and Indy driver Pat O’Connor, and Archie Scott Brown and Hansgen. The Jaguar-powered machines should have stayed home.

The entry list was indeed star-studded, though some of these stars had not quite risen yet. Dan Gurney was sharing a DB-Panhard with Howard Hanna, and he even found time to have some practice laps in the Fiat-Abarth Zagato entered for Denise McCluggage and Ruth Levy. How Dan managed to fit into either of these cars is a mystery! Jo Bonnier was brought in to increase the attractiveness of the Duncan/Hinkle Maserati. The two Americans both out-qualified the Swede who broke the gearbox in the race. Duncan and Hinkle were not impressed. John Fitch was sharing one of the private Ferrari Testa Rossas with Ed Hugus. Bob Holbert and Skip Hudson were in a Porsche 550RS, and veteran Bill Milliken was in an Elva with Millard Ripley and Cameron Argetsinger. There were Indy drivers Jim Rathmann and Pat O’Connor, and the Argentinean Alejandro DeTomaso was sharing an OSCA with his new wife Isabelle Haskell.

The start was something of a shambles, some drivers posed and ready to sprint to their cars, while others were still ambling across the circuit. This prompted one false start so everybody had to line up again.

This is what you might call a drivers’ meeting!

This is what you might call a drivers’ meeting!

Pre-Start #1 - The drivers begin to amble across the road.

Pre-Start #1 - The drivers begin to amble across the road.

Pre-Start #2 - Some drivers are ready, but Archie Scott Brown, 6th from right, adjusts his helmet, and seems to be losing his trousers.

Pre-Start #2 - Some drivers are ready, but Archie Scott Brown, 6th from right, adjusts his helmet, and seems to be losing his trousers.

The Augie Pabst/Jim Jeffords Corvette SR2 was expected to be quick off the line. Pabst was making his international race debut. Jeffords was indeed first off the line but a wheel problem stopped him out on the circuit and he was therefore last across the line at the end of the first lap. The Corvettes had made a big impact the previous year, but were not realising their promise. Juan Fangio had tried one in 1957 and gone much quicker than anyone else, though he was still faster in his Maserati.

The Aston Martins made the early bid for the lead with Stirling Moss going out in front. Mike Hawthorn had the works Ferrari second but Roy Salvadori had the other Aston on his tail and the British cars were looking very impressive. Roy then moved past Hawthorn to make it an Aston 1-2. The Listers were going well in the opening laps but Olivier Gendebien tried to force his way past Archie Scott Brown and managed to climb right up over the back of the Lister. The drivers hopped out and got the Ferrari off and it went back to the pits for repairs but the Lister was out. The second Lister only managed six laps before the engine went and all the Jaguar-powered cars were gone by lap 22.

Stirling Moss was off to an early lead in the Aston Martin DBR1.

Stirling Moss was off to an early lead in the Aston Martin DBR1.

Roy Salvadori in the Aston he shared with Shelby was third in the early stages.

Roy Salvadori in the Aston DBR1 he shared with Shelby was third in the early stages.

Archie Scott Brown’s Lister tangled with Gendebien’s Ferrari on only the 3rd lap. The Ferrari sat on top of the Lister, as the Brown/Yoland DB passed by. Gendebien recovered and finished 2nd.

Archie Scott Brown’s Lister (Chassis BHL101) tangled with Gendebien’s Ferrari 250 TR (Chassis 0726) on only the 3rd lap. The Ferrari sat on top of the Lister, as the Brown/Yoland DB passed by. Gendebien recovered and finished 2nd.

A real mixed bag. Salvadori in the Aston is hardly visible as he cuts through traffic. Number 3 is the 4.6 liter Corvette of Pabst and Jeffords, which only lasted 27 laps. The Bueb/Sanderson D-Type was gone 5 laps earlier, while the Constantine/Dalton Aston was gone at 15 laps.

A real mixed bag. Salvadori in the Aston DBR1 is hardly visible as he cuts through traffic. Number 3 is the 4.6 liter Corvette SR2 of Pabst and Jeffords, which only lasted 27 laps. The Bueb/Sanderson D-Type was gone 5 laps earlier, while the Constantine/Dalton Aston Martin DB2/4 was gone at 15 laps.

Ron Flockhart in the D-Type shared with Masten Gregory was another early Jaguar retirement.

Ron Flockhart in the D-Type shared with Masten Gregory was another early Jaguar retirement.

Comments

  1. says

    Good stuff. Keep it coming. Ed McDonough must have a wonderful library of images and stories. Those guys that were actually their have a unique look back at history that the rest of us can only wish we had.

  2. Tom Gee says

    One suggested correction of an often repeated mistake; Dan Gurney did not practice or race the DB with Howard Hanna. I have spoken with Dan and Howard’s son and they both confirmed that it did not happen. I have also corresponded with Denise McCluggage who did confirm that Dan did practice in her Fiat Abarth.

  3. Ed McDonough says

    Dennis and Tom:
    Thanks for the comments.
    Yes, I have a substantial photo archive which I continue to work on every day, and for some time have spent efforts finding and saving motor racing photos. I have a collection of some 5000 negatives that literally was fished out of a dust bin. And there is the widow of a well known Jaguar engineer of the ’50s who told me that…’no one would all that old stuff so i threw it out’ “It” was his life long collection of drawings, notes and photos of his work on competition Jaguars….so I try to prevent this in some small way.

    Re: Dan Gurney…I am pleased that is clarified now…I should have asked earlier. Many thanks.
    Ed McDonough

  4. Tom Gee says

    Ed -

    my hat is off to you for this article and your efforts to save motorsports history, and I imagine there are many invaluable items that have been lost to dustbins and trash piles. The Gurney/Hanna listing is repeated everywhere, so don’t feel bad…it is in virtually every race result I have ever seen. I only found out the error by contacting the Hanna family looking for photos of the car.

    If I can ever help your efforts in any way please let me know.

    Regards,

    Tom

  5. Bill says

    The picture of the Jean Kunstle/Ken Miles Porsche 550 RS is great! Look beyond the car. Stacks of pipes! A specatator and his car! Possibly a marshall. In the foreground is a fire hydrant on the inside of a turn!! Love it. Whimps need not apply to drive one of those.

  6. Bob Engberg says

    Great story and photos of Sebring. We had a 50th annivsary for Elva there in 2008. Elva driver Rip Ripley came for the ocassion, as did the dauhter of Charles Kurtz (deceased.) The Elva driven by Wylie had a Climax FPF engine.

  7. C.D. says

    God Bless , Ed McDonough. Thank you so very much for letting us drift back to a much simpler time, the GOLDEN Age of Sports Car Racing in America…. All the greats were present …… Ole Shell’s ticker was still good to geaux and Mr 1961 ” Phil Hill” was on still on his way up, to the TOP of the racing world. What a wonderful time to be alive. John Coltrane and Ms Billie Holiday were still alive and performing. You could buy a prototype Ferrari or Maserati or OSCA for under $ 20 thousand… and a new 1958 Custom color Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Amp would only set ya back $225 bucks.

    Thanks a bunch Ed, well done. Well done indeed.

  8. Fred Lieb says

    I was crew chief on the Martin,Baptista, Warren ELVA MK 111 and was in the garage during night practice when Doc Wylie
    went off course as he was exiting “Big Bend” about topped out in third gear. With the 1500 FPF the MK 111 was a bit tail light and Doc hit a guy wire at something over 100 MPH and cut the rear end of the car off just behind the cockpit. A differance of 6″ would have been very bad! It looked like someone had taken a saw to the car. Doc was one of the nicest guys racing and a real gentleman needless to say the garage was very subdued that evening.

    • Bob Engberg says

      I spoke with Doc two years ago about Sebrin. His car was a MK III with the DOHC Climax. He said something broke in he back and he went between a telephone poll and its guide wire, and the back was cut off or4 neary so. The car went back to the UK where the FPF was put into a new MK IV and sold to Burdette Martin.

      • Tim Kunz says

        I have seen several references that Dr. Wyllie’s car was a Mark II (like the photo caption) and several that say it was a Mark III. Is it definitly a Mark III?

        • Bob Engberg says

          Doc’s Elva was a MK III made especially for the Sebring race. After the crash the car was returned to the UK and the FPF Climax put into an Elva MK IV that was bought by Berdie Martin. Berdie drove that car once or twice. BTW, the blue Elva driven by Charles Kurtz is a MK II. His daughter was at the Elva event at the 2008 vintage race at Sebring.

    • Bob Engberg says

      Fred,

      Fred,

      By chance did you know FRANK CAMPBELL of Hinsdale, IL? In late 1957 he bought a red MK II that Burdette Martin owned. Campbell raced it at RA500 in 1958. I now have his MK II and have been trying to locate his descendants.

      Bob
      bobengberg@aim.com

  9. says

    Terrific documentation of the ’58 event! Thanks for sharing this. As others have said, keep it coming. There is a real need for quality documents by people who where there with stories and photos.

    I’d love to see a story on the ’56 – 12 Hours of Sebring and photos. -Greg

  10. Jon Gross says

    Hi Ed

    Great piece on the 58 Sebring 12 hour race. What a fabulous era of motor sport and thanks for bringing it all back to life for us. Thanks also for the shot which shows my Aston staying out of trouble (!) or is Constantine taking all 3 cars around the outside? I haven’t seen that photo before – any more?

    Quick question – the 1958 World Championship was for cars with 3 litres and under – Corvettes – special engines or special ‘American’ rules?

    All the best

    Jon

  11. Tom Bucher says

    I wasn’t even aware of Sebring in 1958, but I really enjoyed your coverage. And yes, I do recognize the drivers mentioned and the cars of course. Thank you for the article and pictures.
    Tom Bucher

  12. Jake R. says

    Archie Scott Brown is either losing his pants as you said or he is wearing a weight lifting belt! Funny either way…

    Thank you for the fine article.

  13. stephen griswold says

    Sebring 1958 Story
    Ed,I was at Sebring 1957 with my dad and Chas Addams( the cartoonist)and I clearly remember the convincing win by Jean Behra and Fangio Maserati 450 S (spectacular at night with the flames exiting the side gutterpipe exhausts as it thundered down the straight). and a fine 2nd OD by Stirling in the 300S( restored by me some years later and now with Tony Wang). Not Exactly a Ferrari day for the 290 MM ,but a Maserati slaughter.
    Cheers Stephen

  14. says

    There he is, Sir STERLING MOSS, my friend and foe in the 1986 Bahama Vintage Grand Prix, where he drove his winning Aston DBR2 in the original ’59 Bahama Race. I was driving the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette powered Devon bodied ECHIDNA.
    I beat STERLING in the first race by fooling him at the start. Where upon he told me he would teach me Lesson #2 for race 2 the next day. Of course his lesson incorporated a technique to put his Aston in front of my Echidna while rounding the final turn before the flagman, and then hitting his breaks and standing on the gas simultaniously. Sterling had the pole and off he went with me trying to recover from hitting my breaks and losing RPM’s, and proving he was still the “BOSS”. I didn’t know until a month ago that Lesson #2 is a term referred to by the RAF Spitfire pilots of WW2, as “Technique” in dog fighting.
    So, it took 28 years for me to learn what the hell Sterling was talking about.

  15. says

    We need people like you Ed. Do you happen to know the whereabouts of Bill Love? He drove this Sebring race together with Roy Jackson Moore and George Crowder in an AC Ace Bristol, car number 38. They came 22nd overall. I am fortunate to have Bill Loves car which is currently under restoration after spending 30 years in the California desert.
    Also, a well known lady driver who won a number of races in the car was Linda Scott. She was last heard of flying Planes for the Californian fire brigade. If anyone can put me in touch with her I would be really pleased.

    Ashley Wills

  16. Robert Engberg says

    Ashley, I am assuming that the Bill Love you mention is the man from Santa Cruz who racedLotus Elevens with his wife. That Bill Love died many years ago. He and his wife divorced and his cars were sold. One of his Elevens is now owned by Russ Hoenig. My friend Stewart Smith races an. Eleven now and lives in Santa Cruz and knows something about the Loves. I have forwarded you questions to them.

    • Anonymous says

      Hi Robert. I was not aware Bill raced Lotus Elevens but he could well have done. I know that he and Linda Scott raced this AC Ace Bristol 39 times in the SCCA over 1957/58 winning I think 12 races and Linda winning a good number in class in both ladies and mixed. It will be interesting to see what Stewart can add and whether he knows anything about Linda. Cheers, Ashley.

      • Robert Engberg says

        I was thinking of a fellow named “Jim Lowe” who lived in Santa Cruz and did race Elevens. So, different guy. But the name Bill Love seems to ring a bell and I might have seen him race in the late ’50′s if he was a Southern Calif racer. If he was friends with Frank Monise you might asked his son Frankie, who still runs the auto shop in Pasadena.

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