At the halfway point the Greenwood Vette sat on jack stands as its crew did open heart surgery on the transmission. Of the eight Corvettes that started the race, the DeLorenzo and Chicken Ranch Corvettes were the only survivors still on track, running strong in eighth and ninth behind three Porsches, and the factory cars of BMW and Ferrari. It was still Andretti and Ickx setting the pace with the Munich team of BMW keeping everybody honest.
After lunch, Ansley’s ladies from the Chicken Ranch made their way to the Green Park, an area of the infield, for a stage show. The show had been promoted by the ladies handing out flyers with the time and location of the show, which was organized and sponsored by Pimp, a men’s adult magazine. A motorcycle gang provided security. The top of a big yellow box rental truck served as the stage for what turned into a XXX act as the handouts had promised. Not only did this divert a large number of fans from the race at hand but also a contingent of the press. A number of photographers documented the event while members of the Sheriff’s department looked on. In the next issue of Pimp, photos from the show and the race appeared as a sixteen page spread. Ansley’s Chicken Ranch Team would get more ink in this and other magazines than any other team.
While the sun set behind the Martini Rossi Bridge and the track cooled, Ickx set the fastest lap of the race just before twilight turned into night with a time of 2:48.251, a speed of 110.638 MPH just 0.314 one hundreds of a seconds off the qualifying pole time. Yes, the Ferrari was running a hell of a pace for a twelve-hour race.
With less than two hours left in the race, Ickx pitted the leading Ferrari for a routine stop and informed Andretti that the transmission was barking when engaging first gear and suggested no longer using first except for the pits. As Andretti left the pits, Wietzes brought the second team car in for its last stop and driver change. Few knew it but at this time in life, Minter was somewhat night blind and tonight it would cost him. On his first lap back out after making Tower Turn onto Flying Fortress Straight, Minter would spin to avoid a slower car without any tail lights. Minter, now talking into the radio, something that he was rather famous for, was totally disoriented and did not know where the track was located. He later told me the story. He sat there in the dark until he saw a set of headlights. While headed for what he thought was the track, he ran through a worker’s station. He laughed as he told me that all he saw was the white overalls scattering. The lights turned out to be another car off track and also lost in the dark. Once again a set of headlights appeared and Minter headed for them with the other lost soul in tow and damn, this time both of them ran through the worker station again. That was one of Minter’s favorite stories even though that little adventure ended up costing him the race.
The Spirit of Sebring Vette, after a lengthy rebuild of its transmission, was back on track with Mike Brockman at the wheel. Exiting the Hairpin, its transmission locked solid like it had been wielded in place. Brockman could not get it out of gear and the workers could not move the car. This brought out the safety car for the first and only time during the race. A motorcycle gang, partying in their usual campsite on the outside of the Hairpin, saw the situation and vaulted the fence to assist the corner workers. Having sufficient numbers they simply manhandled the car off the track. All this was done quite efficiently and the pace car went back in after only two laps.