1963 12 Hours of Sebring – Race Profile Page Fourteen
Coming into the pits for a look at his battery was the Ferrari 250P of Ludovico Scarfiotti. It seems that the battery casing had expanded and forced the contacts off the leads. Scarfiotti was in second position at the time and he also had other complaints, to which, exhaust fumes in the cockpit, from their rear-engined car, that made him nauseous. When his co-driver, John Surtees, took the car out for the final time few seemed to notice that Scarfiotti seemed a bit flush. It was the beginning of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the pits an incident happened that for the quick action of the pit stewards could have been tragic. The Simca-Abarth of Hans Herrmann was in for gas and tires and the jack slipped causing the car to fall on a mechanic. Stewards rushed to the rescue lifting the car high enough for him to be removed. His injuries were only minor.
Out on the course the Hill/Rodriguez Ferrari 330 TRI/LM that had led for seven of the past eight hours was in big trouble. The generator had failed and the battery was quickly being drained and headlights and driving lights began to dim. To conserve battery power and to help find his way in the pitch dark Hill would turn off his lights and tuck in behind another car and allow them to light the way.
This didn’t go unnoticed by the corner workers and when the stewards were notified that a car was running without lights they prepared a black flag for Graham Hill. The wily Hill, knowing what was coming, would get to the last turn before the start/finish and then turn on what was left of his lights. It also seems that the factory Ferrari people had a word with the stewards about the lights on the NART Ferrari. That American entered car had embarrassed them all day long and they would have preferred that one of their new factory cars win. However, as Hill passed the stewards they determined he had enough light showing to let him continue racing.
The inability to see properly in the dark at high speed forced Hill to slow the car and he would eventually finish in third position. Moving into first and second overall were the factory Surtees/Scarfiotti 250P and the Mariesse/Vaccarella 250P.
At 10 p.m. starter Jesse Coleman dropped the checkered flag with the Ferrari of John Surtees and Ludovico Scarfiotti taking overall first place honors in their #30 Ferrari 250P. It was the first win at Sebring for a rear-engined race car. Coming in second overall were Willy Mairesse and Nino Vaccarella in another Ferrari 250P. In third place was the Ferrari 330 TRI/LM of Pedro Rodriguez and Graham Hill. In fourth, fifth and sixth place were a trio of Ferrari 250 GTOs. It was an incredible clean sweep for Ferrari and as further proof of Ferrari reliability nine of their eleven cars entered finished.
In seventh and eighth places were two Jaguar E-types and in ninth and tenth position were the two factory Porsche Abarth 356B Carrera GTLs mentioned earlier. They had exhibited remarkable discipline hour after hour by staying within twenty feet of each other for almost twelve hours. That is, until the last pit stop. In his own words #44 Porsche driver Don Wester explains:
“Here is what happened at our last pit stop toward end of the race. The German Team pitted first; when I saw them head into pit lane I began to drive as quickly as possible to gain some time on them. When it was our time to make a pit stop for gas and Bob’s (Holbert) turn to finish the race, the mechanics did a quick gas fill, Bob got in to re-enter the race. As he re-entered, our car was leading by a good distance ahead, #44 went on to win the class and 9th overall.”
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