Spankey Smith provides the shots. Tierno made it to Florida. Nicholas and Vail ended up in jail trying to get there. Sherm Decker showed the Brits what a really fast race driver from the US could do.
Phil Hill’s #7 Ferrari TR 59/60 splashes through the rain. This was later in the day as Hill and Gendebien started in #8 but the car failed after 77 lapts. Dan Gurney and Chuck Daigh started #7.
Just after the start Gendebien handles the #8 Ferrari TR 59/60. I love the side pipes carrying the V12 sounds to the crowd.
Practice day from above the pits. The #9 Ferrari of Jean Behra and Cliff Allison is looked after as the pontoon Testa Rossa of E.D. Martin and Lance Reventlow goes past.
No idea what number car this will become. A photo taken on Thursday as the cars are unloaded. Just a photo of a magnificent design that is ageless. The Ferrari Testa Rossa 59/60.
Practice preparations. It look serious on the #14 of E D Lunken, Augie Pabst and Gus Andrey. They would finish 7th overall. Could this be the same #14 Testa Rossa 58 that Hill and Gendebien won Sebring in 1958?
Carroll Shelby rolls down pit lane in the Aston Martin DBR-1. Later in the year Shelby and Roy Salvadori would team together to win LeMans.
While it isn’t every year, Sebring can get rain. Here Lance Reventlow takes his Testa Rossa down the main straight to 6th place.
Shelby leads Moss in tha Aston vs Lister battle that would continue in the US all year. The only change were the protagonists - it was George Constantine in the Aston and Walt Hansgen in the Lister.
At the same time the Ferrari’s were being unloaded so was the single Aston Martin DBR-1.
This beautiful factory car was driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori. While the car did not last at Sebring Shelby and Salvadori did take a DBR-1 to victory later in the year at Le Mans. This particular car did win the Nurburgring 1000 with Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman.
The dead car park. The Moss/Bueb Costin Lister and the #8 Ferrari sit abandoned at the end of the pits. The Lister would go on to glory with Walt Hansgen fighting George Constantine through all 1959.
Some things never change. The pit straight at Sebring in 1959. In 1969 or 2009 or 2019 it was much the same. Always near or over 100,000 come to celebrate Spring at the Sebring 12 hour.
Here is Moss in the Costin Lister he shared with 2 time LeMans winner Ivor Bueb.
Walt Hansgen and DickThompson in one of Cunninghams “knobbly” Lister-Jags finished 12th.
Bueb, Moss and a team member talk over who will start the race.
While a head popped up in front of the camera, we know that Moss stood aside while Ivor made the Le Mans start.
The Porsche RSK of Wolfgang von Trips and Joachim Bonnier finished a surprising 3rd overall just 4 laps behind the winning Ferrari.
Ken Miles takes his RSK past the dead car park. Miles co drove with Jack McAfee to 8th overall and 3rd under 1.5 liters.
Don Sessler in his RSK he shared with Bob Holbert. They were quick and only beaten by the factory RSK. Sessler took this easily identifiable car to a great season in 1959.
No, Ernie Erickson is not racing, he is taking the car to the grid. He and Ed Hugus would take this Porsche RSK to 10th overall.
Art Bunker’s RSK resting in a very neat VW hauler. Bunker brought the car but it only practiced and never started.
A Mechanic does a quick pit stop oil check on one of the Lotus entries.
Jean Behra smokes while poking a journalist. Porsche's von Hanstein smiles at the joke.
Carroll Shelby (L) is pensive, Roy Salvadori chats with a friend.
Olivier Gendebien (hat) Phil Hill (behind) on the grid, were the winners.
Paul O'Shea in striped sweater Who are the others? O’Shea shared a Ferrari Testa Rossa 58 with Pedro Rodriguez.
The Rodriguez brothers give the photographer some “stink eye” as Momma Rodriguez looks on. Pedro shared a Ferrari with Paul O’Shea. Ricardo co drove an OSCA with Alejandro deTomaso and Denise McCluggage.
Bruce Kessler, in the USAC jacket, also gives Spankey a look.
Big Band leader Paul Whitman was a big race fan. He wrote and composed music and led one of America’s most popular dance bands of the 20’s and 30’s. His big hit was the introduction of George Gershwins “Rhapsody In Blue” which Whiteman used as his theme song.
The Ultimate Sportsman Briggs Cunningham sits in one of his Lister Jaguars. In the fall of 58, just a few months before Sebring, Cunningham guided his yacht “Columbia” to the America’s Cup championship. Cunningham was one in a lifetime.
The US Navy flew the BMC team of MGA’s to Sebring. You must keep in mind that Sebring was a big WWII Air Force training airport. Thousands of B-17, B-24 and B-29 Super Fortress pilots trained at Sebring.
The 3 race MGA twin cam coupes and the P training car sit under the fuselage of the mother ship that brought them to the US.
Prior to the start, mechanics and crew get the #28 and #29 cars ready for 12 hours. All 3 cars would finish - in their number sequence 28-29-30.
Leaning hard into what might be the first turn, the two twin cams stay in formation. Note the huge Navy transport parked behind the fences.
And they are off. The MGAs are under way with just 11 hours and 59 minutes to go.
Gus Ehrman and Ray Saidel drove the number 28 twin cam coupe to 27th overall and second under 1.6 liters. BARC member Sherm Decker was listed as a co-driver.
A practice morning shows everyone pretty relaxed. It would not be so on Saturday morning.
The #30 car had BARC member Sherm Decker in it. Decker was only supposed to “support” the designated drivers but was so quick the factory had to put him in the car during race conditions.
The Dalton/Parkinson MG enjoys a few moments of dry track.
It was wet for much of the race. Here the 29 of Yank Jim Parkinson and Brit John Dalton kicks up some spray.
All the racs were housed in car dealerships or body shops scattered around the city of Sebring. There were no covered pits or buildings at the track in those days. Note the custon hood scoop to take fresh air into the cockpit.
Sherm Decker (middle) looks out at his first visit to Sebring. Good friend and MG driver Hank vanDuesen (white coat) went with Sherm.
An ambulance attends to a rolled over car as the #30 MGA follows two of the sprites through the esses.
A rare color shot of almost the entire BMC team of MGA’s and Sprites.
The rest of the Sprites sit on pit row. Even in 1959 Sebring loved its vintage cars.
Team Sprite in front of their Florida HQ. Usually used as the showroom for Willys-Jeeps. Look that marque up.
Oops, number 55 loses it and spins in the back country of Hendricks Field, aka Sebring.
Ricardo Rodriguez pushes his OSCA on pit road. Ricardo had just turned 17 the month before the Sebring race.
Beautiful DB Panhard of water czar Henry Perrier and William Wood. The French car would finish 3rd in Sport 750.
This OSCA never or Alan Markleson and Rees Makins never made the finish.
Bill Rutan, Ray Cuomo and Paul Richards took this Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth to first in the GT750 class.
Behind the #24 A C Bristol is barc member Charlie Kurtz. Charlie, Archie Means and Ross Wees finished 2nd in GT 2 liter. All three would have great success in SCCA racing with A C Bristols.
Pete Lovely, Jay Chamberlain and Sam Weiss took this Lotus Elite all 12 hours to second in their class. All 3 were west coast drivers and all had great careers.
The Lotus Elite was a fore runner of all Chapman productions cars. Beautiful lines, fiberglass bodies, small engines, light and fragile.
The Lotus 11 of Tom Fleming, Bill Schade and harry Dager finished the race but had problems finishing 44th overall.
Note the Lotus has Team Lotus on the side. Often Chapman would sell an American a race car and put the caveat it had to race at Sebring.
A very new Lotus 15. Driven by William Entwhistle and Robert Hanna. Not a good day for #27 finishing 51st with only 126 laps.