Steve McQueen may have actually won the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring.
The response to my story about the legendary 1970 12 Hours of Sebring race was better than I had hoped. One response from a reader piqued my interest because he believes that the Steve McQueen – Peter Revson Porsche 908/02 may have actually won the race.
The reader in question is a Mr. John Bradley who currently works and lives in the Washington, D.C. area. However, in 1970 he was living in Florida and, like me, was a volunteer race official for Central Florida Region of Sports Car Club of America.
My specialty was as a licensed SCCA corner worker and John’s specialty was as a licensed SCCA timer and scorer. As such we both worked driver’s schools, as well as Regional and National races.
To raise money for Central Florida Region the licensed workers were hired out to work professional events like the 24-Hours of Daytona and the 12-Hours of Sebring. Over the years we must have crossed paths many times but never formally met.
At the 1970 Sebring race John was scheduled to work timing and scoring and arrived early with a rental truck to get a good parking space in the paddock, which he did.
John then ran into a friend from Fort Walton Beach, Florida who had a Z28 entered in the race. He had trailered down by himself.
The friend needed to get to the FIA physical at the firehouse in Sebring and had to use the tow car to do it. At the same time the race car had to be at tech inspection at the shuffleboard court, so John drove the Z28 from the track into town to get inspected. According to John it was a “fun drive” with spectators along the road encouraging a bit of speed.
John pulled the Camaro into the tech line immediately behind the Porsche 908/02 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson.
John was racing pro MX at the time on Maico and he had read in Cycle News that McQueen (on a Husky) had broken his foot at a race in California so he went over and the two started talking.
John worked timing and scoring for Thursday night’s practice and by Friday the club members from MacDill Air Force Base arrived to work the races and relieve him.
In that group were Roger and Gerlinda Newman from Tampa who had been recommended to Steve McQueen’s production company (Solar) as people who could do lap charts for them. The Newmans and John were good friends and he went to see them in the tower at Sebring before the start. John had full credentials as a worker and could go almost everywhere as a result.
On one of his visits to the Newmans he met Steve McQueen again and they talked. While talking to Steve someone from the Solar team asked John to be a runner between the team and the course officials. As a result he stayed with the Solar team for the rest of the race.
Most of the time during the race John was upstairs with the Newmans charting. With them were Steve’s wife, Edie, and Jack Reddish of Solar Productions and his wife.
To this day John feels that the #48 Porsche won by almost a full lap. He thinks that the Andretti Ferrari 512s passed the #48 car to get on the same lap between timing and scoring and the finish line. But the clock ran out before Mario crossed the finish line (trailed by the Revson/McQueen Porsche). The flagman waived the checker flag believing that Mario’s Ferrari was the leader.
Although not critical of timing and scoring, John believes they were caught out early in the day when Peter Revson spun out and stalled thus missing a half-lap on the watch but a full lap according to the timing and scoring flip clock.
After the Victory Lane celebration and ride to the airport hanger on the Porsche; John, the Solar crew and the McQueens returned to Mr. McQueen’s motor home (a real luxury in those days.) The group asked if Steve wanted to protest the results. He said (roughly), “I had a blast. We finished second overall and won our class. NO!”
And that’s the way Steve wanted it – no turmoil. He thought he’d be made out to be a spoiled movie star instead of a racer and the latter was far more important to him.
[Source: Lou Galanos]