1960 12 Hours of Sebring – Race Profile Page Three
As usual Sebring fans began arriving early in the week before the 12-hour race on Saturday March 26. They went about their business setting up their favorite view spots and were enjoying the great weather for this year’s race. The previous year’s rains slowed all the race cars so no records were broken. The rains also made life in the spectator paddock miserable for all. To keep early arrivals entertained in 1960 Alec Ulmann had arranged for the first time a couple of preliminary races on Friday. One would be a 30 lap Formula Junior race run on the short (2.2 mile) course and the other a 4-hour endurance race for small GT cars on the full 5.2 mile course. Those cars had to have engines under 1,000 cc’s or no more than 61 cubic inches.
The Formula Junior event attracted some drivers of note including Jim Hall of Texas who won the event in an Elva DKW, as well as Ed Crawford driving a Stanguellini, Walt Hansgen, Augie Pabst, Pedro Rodriguez, Alessandro de Tomasso and Briggs Cunningham who drove a Cooper. Hall, who would become the face of Chaparral in a few years, averaged 88.007 mph for the 30 laps in his victory.
In the 4-hour endurance race for small GT cars on Friday Paul Richards won in a Fiat Abarth with Stirling Moss coming in second but first in class in his Austin-Healey Sprite. Richards ran 57 laps of the 5.2 mile course in the four hours for an average time of 73.968 to win the event. The only excitement in the race came when Bill Storey of Clearwater, Florida flipped his DB and was flown to a St. Petersburg hospital for a checkup. He returned to the track to watch the rest of the race from his pit, tenderly nursing bruises and abrasions.
Even before the green flag fell on the start of the 4-hour GT race on Friday the buzz going around the pits concerned the fact that that the hard charging driving style of Moss resulted in a blown engine on his Maserati during night practice on Thursday. The Camoradi team would eventually move Moss and co-driver Dan Gurney into the #23 “Birdcage” displacing drivers Jim Rathman and Col. George Koehne. This car was the same one that Moss drove to victory in the Cuban Grand Prix in February. Because of the Communist revolution in Cuba it would be the last grand prix race ever run in that country.
The rainy weather from the previous year was just a bad memory as a bright sun broke over the raceway on race day. Temperatures were expected to be high with some meteorologists predicting record heat for the race. While clear skies were welcome the heat was not and could take a punishing toll on cars, drivers and spectators alike. Track temperatures, which could reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit, had to be considered by each of the racing teams.