The 1970 12 Hours of Sebring is judged by many to be the greatest Sebring race of all time. The driver line-up alone was larger-than-life, featuring Mario Andretti, Peter Revson, Dan Gurney, Jacky Ickx, Brian Redman, Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert, Mike Parkes, Vic Elford and Francois Cevert, among many others.
Although Porsche easily won the season opening 24 Hours of Daytona, Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 512S proved to be very strong at Sebring. Starting from the pole, Andretti led an uneventful race until the 10 hour mark when his Ferrari 512’s differential bearings failed.
The lead then went to the Rodriguez/Siffert/Kinnunen Porsche 917, who was followed by Peter Revson and Steve McQueen in a Porsche 908 and the remaining Ferrari 512 driven by Nino Vaccarella and Ignazio Guinti.
With 90 minutes remaining, the leading Porsche 917 then suffered mechanical issues, vaulting the Revson/McQueen Porsche 908 into the lead, still trailed by the Nino Vaccarella/Guinti Ferrari 512.
Although the Porsche 908 carried a virtually insurmountable lead, driver Peter Revson was exhausted from driving the overwhelming majority of the race. Further, the Ferrari was far superior to the Porsche.
Ferrari team manager Mauro Forghieri thought the Ferrari may have an opportunity, but it would have to pick up the pace significantly. For that job, he looked to Andretti. His directive was simple – pass the Revson Porsche for the win.
Despite it being nighttime and not fitting properly in the car, Andretti heroically lapped the 3.7 mile track up to six seconds a lap faster than Vaccarella or Guinti’s best times. As directed, Andretti caught Revson’s Porsche with a couple laps to spare, resulting in a 22 second victory for Ferrari.
At the time, Andretti’s close victory represented the closest 12 Hours of Sebring finish ever.
The following gallery of pictures originally taken by Michael Keyser and Balfour Walker comes courtesy of Autosports Marketing Associates, Ltd.
1970 12 Hours of Sebring – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: photo credit: Autosports Marketing Assoc.]