1965 Sebring 12-Hour Grand Prix of Endurance – Page Three
Dan Gurney in the #23 All American Lotus 19J-Ford then led for several laps until passed by Jim Hall in the Chaparral. When Hall pitted around noon for the first driver change, Gurney regained the lead only to lose it when the chain drive on the car’s oil pump failed on lap 43. Unfortunately his co-driver Jerry Grant never got a chance to drive. There was much speculation in the press about Dan Gurney’s entry at Sebring. Since Gurney was running a Ford powered car and since he and Carroll Shelby had formed All American Racers it was concluded that the Gurney Lotus was a “rabbit” expected to set a blistering pace and force the Chevy powered Chaparrals to keep up. This pace would eventually be too much for the Chaparrals and Ford and the Shelby cars would end up winning the day.
During the early hours of the race emergency workers were kept busier than usual. Two drivers had to be treated for heat prostration but both later returned. Two race fans were slightly injured when the Rainville/Gammino Bizzarrini Iso Grifo A3C lost its brakes and plunged into the crowd hitting a spectator vehicle. A Cobra mechanic was temporarily paralyzed when he managed to make contact with a live electrical wire. It was already turning out to be a long and interesting day.
The record heat and notoriously rough Sebring track were taking an early toll on the cars. One by one cars pulled into the pits with radiators shooting geysers of steam into the air. Just after 1 p.m. the #4 Jennings/Hissom Chaparral, in third place, had to pit with battery problems probably caused by the extreme heat. This would take 45 minutes to resolve. More problems would ensue later and they would finish the race in 22nd position.
After completing 37 laps the Phil Hill/Richie Ginther #10 Shelby Ford GT40 was sidelined by suspension failure caused by heat of another kind. It seems that a suspension mounting bracket cracked due to heat embrittlement as a result of a chassis fire at the 1964 Le Mans race. Phil Hill would later step into the #16 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe when Lew Spencer collapsed due to the heat.