I had never seen such a collection of weird-ass race cars. It was obvious at tech that the word had gotten out: there is a Sebring 1974 Race and it was a real outlaw. There were just two categories, GTO and GTU. Charlie Rainville and Billy Cook were given the job of finding eighty cars out of the hundred plus that showed up for tech to make the field. “Homologated hell, does it have rubber tires,” Rainville asked with a big smile. This task was solved by gridding the top seventy qualifiers and then having a ten-lap shoot-out race for the last ten spots on Friday afternoon.
The first practice session was cut short due to Gordy Offjaw crashing in a big way for no apparent reason on the back straight. Offjaw would die two years later in a mental intuition. This is another story for another time.
Night practice was nothing less than three hours of chaos and carnage highlighted by James Brolin hitting a hog – the four-legged kind. And yes, James Brolin the movie star. The hog was guest of honor the next night at a barbecue.
Friday started with an early two-hour practice session followed one hour later with the only qualifying session. Tony DeLorenzo in the big 482ci Bud Corvette drew first blood on his second lap out by bettering his pole winning time from ‘73 by over a second. The ink was not dry when Milt Minter, last year’s fastest race lap holder, swatted DeLorenzo’s mark with a speed of 108.960 mph. Yes the Ferraris were fast, to no one’s surprise. Greenwood, in what the fans were calling “The Bat Mobile,” got in the record books until Andretti went out and moved the bar higher yet. From there it was a shoot-out between the two Ferraris, Minter and Andretti back and forth with Andretti ending up on top with a time of 2:47.937 for a speed of 110.910 MPH. After qualifying Minter said, “Damn! I would have been fast if it had not been for Andretti.” Typical Uncle Miltee.
At 2:00pm there was a ten-lap race for the last ten spots on the grid. Forty-two cars started this shoot-out. John Greenwood was in the middle of an engine change. Like Greenwood most had things to do but like Greenwood almost everyone sought a location to watch the race from. Greenwood and I made it to the top of a transporter. Our effort was rewarded by a show that ranked with a good figure-eight race.
1974 12 Hours of Sebring Grid
1. Andretti / Ickx, Ferrari Boxer, 2:47.937
2. Minter/ Wietzes, Ferrari Boxer, 2:48.676
3. Peterson/Redman, BMW CSL, 2:49.238
4. Greenwood/Brockman, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:49.643
5. DeLorenzo/Durst, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:49.793
6. Follmer/Donohue, Porsche Carrera, 2:50.114
7. Haywood/Gregg, Porsche Carrera, 2:50.985
8. Keyser/Holbert, Porsche Carrera, 2:51.163
9. Felton/ Ramsey, Chevrolet Corvette, 2:51.897
10. Posey/Stuck, BMW CSL, 2:51.915