1960 12 Hours of Sebring – Race Profile Page Six
When the count reached one the green start flag dropped and the drivers sprinted to their cars hoping to be the first under the Amoco Bridge. That feat was accomplished by the Camoradi Corvette of Jim Jeffords with a trio of Ferraris in hot pursuit and before half way around the 5.2 mile track Pete Lovely would quickly take the lead in his Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
Stirling Moss had a bad start due to a hard starting Maserati engine and got away in 23rd position. By the end of the second lap Moss had blown by the pack and was second behind the Ferrari of Lovely. He would overtake Lovely on the third lap.
Lovely had been very lucky during the start because his Ferrari and the NART Ferrari 250 TR of Richie Ginther had bumped together tearing a valve stem off of the tire on Ginther’s car. This caused the tire to slowly deflate until he pitted for a tire change.
Making an unexpected pit stop on the third lap was the Maserati Tipo 61 of Maston Gregory and Carroll Shelby. As the car came to a stop by their pit, steaming water poured from the exhaust due to a blown head gasket. They became the second car to retire preceded only by the Porsche 718 RSK of Ernie Erickson and Don Sesslar that made only one lap and had to retire due to a broken timing gear.
Nineteen minutes after the start and on the fifth lap of the race a tragic accident occurred at the hairpin turn. The Lotus Elite of Jim Hughes and Sam Weiss was coming into the turn when the Lotus lost its brakes and headed for the escape road at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately right in the middle of the escape road was 23-year-old Tampa Tribune photographer George Thompson who had his camera set up on a tripod. Driver Hughes tried to avoid hitting Thompson but only succeeded in rolling his car, striking Thompson and causing the death of both.
Such an accident today would have brought out the red flag to stop the race. Back then the race continued as corner workers cleaned up the debris and ambulances transported the fallen to the track hospital. While all this was going on Stirling Moss gained the lead and was now 12 seconds ahead of the Lovely Ferrari. In third place was the 2-liter NART Ferrari of Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. The brother team of Ricardo, 18, and Pedro, 20, were in the same car for the first time at Sebring. Ricardo shared the Index of Performance trophy in 1959 driving an Osca and Pedro came in second behind Stirling Moss at Cuba in February of 1960.
At the end of the first hour (11 am) the standings were as follows: The Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney Maserati T61 was in first followed by the T61 of Walt Hansgen and Ed Crawford. Next came Richie Ginther and Chuck Daigh in third with a Ferrari 250 TR/60. Next was the Ferrari 250 TR/59 of Jack Nethercutt and Pete Lovely and fifth was the NART Ferrari Dino 196S of Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. Already five cars had officially retired with another three in the pits with ongoing repairs.