1957 12 Hours of Sebring

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The 1957 12-Hour Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance for The Amoco Trophy took place on 23 March, on the Sebring International Raceway, (Florida, United States). It was the second round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. This was sixth running of the 12-hour race, and with the growing popularity of sports car racing in post World War II America, the event was finally coming into its own since its creation in 1952.

Besides the governor of Florida, LeRoy Collins, who proclaimed March 18–23, 1957 as International Sports Car Race Week, thus gaining additional media attention for the event, the people of New York and Detroit were well aware of the significance of this race. For weeks leading up to the event, national newspapers and magazines who fed the public’s interest by reporting on the international celebrities who would drive in it, like Marquis de Portago of Spain and Count Wolfgang von Trips of Germany.[1]

Just days before the race, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile issued an appendix to its rules concerning the race, mandating that during the first tyre change, the team had to use the spare tyre that all the cars were required to carry. While this didn’t the affect the Corvette and some other cars, but for the Ferrari and Maserati, it was a major problem, as on their cars, the wheel on the front and rear of the cars were of different sizes. Ferrari’s Peter Collins, a representative from Maserati and the organiser, Alec Ulmann then met with the FIA to discuss this problem. Collins told the press that these changes were in violation of FIA’s own rules concerning how such changes were adopted. Supposedly any rule changes had to be unanimously approved by all the competitors or it is rejected. It is assumed that this argument carried the day with the FIA, and the race saved. The even-vocal Collins also had a few words to say about the use of 55 gallon oil drums outlining the track. Despite the Englishman protested that their use was “very, very dangerous…” and that they should be “banned”, Sebring continued to use them for several more years.[2]



A massive total of 86 racing cars were registered for this event, of which 76 arrived for practice. Only these, 66 qualified for, and started the race. Of the several media stories circulating about this race was that Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company would challenge the European dominance by entering four Corvette sport cars. One of these would be a radically new car, the magnesium-alloy bodied Super Sport (SS), with its 4,638 c.c. engine complete with lightweight aluminum cylinder heads. In addition to this elegant metallic-blue SS, there was a practice SS built, equipped with a standard Corvette engine and a plastic body. Despite looking shabby, it was very fast and in the days prior to the event, other race drivers were constantly asking Chevy competition director, Zora Arkus-Duntov for a chance to drive one of the SS’s. He would only a selected few to drive one of these. After finishing practice in their Maseratis, both Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss were allowed by Duntov to take a courtesy run in the practice car. Within two laps, Fangio broke the course lap record.[3][4]

The other story ahead of Sebring, was the defection of Fangio to Officine Alfieri Maserati from the Scuderia Ferrari. Fangio had won this event for Ferrari in 1956. In their attempt to lure Fangio from Ferrari, Maserati offered to supply him with no less than six brand new race cars for testing. He picked a 450S for the race, which he eventually drove to victory at Sebring. Meanwhile, back at Maranello, the burden for winning for Ferrari at Sebring fell on the shoulders of Eugenio Castellotti, who partnered Fangio in 1956. However, on 14 March, Castellotti was testing a Formula One Ferrari at the Aerautodromo di Modena when he was crashed heavily, dying instantly from his injuries.[5]

Prior to the race, a small crowd of photographers was snapping away at the Renault Company pits. It seemed that Gilberte Thirion and Nadège Ferrier, who were scheduled to drive an 845cc Renault Dauphine, were posing for the press, while only few photographers were seen elsewhere down the pit lane. Perhaps, the likes of Fangio and Collins, were not as pretty as these female drivers.[6][7]

Meanwhile, Lotus Cars had brought four Lotus Elevens over from Norfolk. Their designer and founder, Colin Chapman had an innovative way of financing the works team effort at Sebring. All four entries were pre-sold to American customers. If you purchased an Eleven, you got to drive it in the race, but you couldn’t take possession of the car until after the race. Therefore, during the race it was a Factory Lotus, however afterwards, the car yours, or what’s left of it was yours.[8]


Because they was no qualifying sessions to set the grid, the starting positions were decided according to engine size with the 4.6 litre Corvette of John Fitch and Piero Taruffi in first place. Next was another Lindsay Hopkins entered Corvette of Paul O’Shea and Pete Lovely. In fact Corvette’s held the first four places. Next in line were the two 450S Maseratis, followed by a half dozen Jaguar D-types.[9]


Collins, in a Ferrari 315 S was the first away with Moss not far behind, but the engine in Moss’s Maserati 300S sputtered for a brief moment, handing Collins a commanding lead. The rest of the field followed with the small Dauphines bringing up the rear. By the end of lap one, Collins was already ten seconds clear of Moss, with the Maserati 450S of Behra not far behind.[10][11]

Within the first 60 minutes, the new Corvette SS began to experience brake troubles and pitted to have these checked, while there also changed their tyres. The Briggs Cunningham Jaguar D-Type, driven by Bill Lloyd was the first the retire with engine problems, as Collins continued to lead with Behra now in second, just a few seconds down on Collins. Moss was now running in third, with Portago fourth in his Ferrari 315 S. Masten Gregory and Phil Hill rounded out the top six, in their Ferraris. As the cars moved into the second hour, the heat started to take its toll on both the cars and the drivers alike. The Maserati 150S of Lloyd Ruby blew its engine and retires. Behra moved into the lead, now ahead of Collins by over a minute at the two-hour mark, with Portago, Moss, and Gregory completed the top five.[12][13]

During the third hour tragedy struck, when Bob Goldich, driving an Arnolt Bolide, crashed at the Esses, flipped his car several times. He died instantly of a fractured skull and broken neck. When news of Goldich’s death reached Stanley Arnolt, he withdrew the rest of his team. This marked the first death of a driver in the history of the Sebring race.[14]

A Maserati 450S, similar to the race winning car of Fangio & Behra, at the 2010 Annual Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance

At 13:15 Behra pitted and handed to 450S over to Fangio. During his spell, Behra had broken the lap record several times, and at this point, had a fairly large lead over teammate Moss. The Ferraris of Collins and Portago were third and fourth with Carroll Shelby now in fifth in a Maserati.[15]

By 15:00, the Corvette SS was listed amongst the retirements. Word from the pit lane, was that persistent overheating problems led to the withdrawal, although the official classifications show the cause to be failed rear suspension. Fangio was still leading and Moss finally decided to hand his car over to his co-driver, Harry Schell. At 15:19, Portago brought his Ferrari with serious brake trouble. The mechanics couldn’t seem to remedy the problem and let the car back onto the track with Luigi Musso behind the wheel. Portago reported that the car had “no brakes”. By the end of the hour, Mike Hawthorn brought his Jaguar D-Type for a brake change.[16]

At the half-way point, Maserati Factory team had Fangio leading the race, but a major mistake by the team, led to a disqualification. It seemed that Fangio and Shelby were running low on fuel. Shelby brought his 250S and had begun refuelling when he was told to get back on the track because Fangio was due in. After Fangio was serviced and cleared the pits, Shelby returned to the pits for the remainder of his fuel, but was immediately disqualified. There was a FIA rule, that stated you had to drive at least 20 laps before you can come in for more fuel, and the Maserati team had forgotten this rule.[17]

After 10 hours of racing, Fangio was still leading with Hawthorn, Portago and Schell following. That order hadn’t changed in over an hour. The Ferrari of Portago had to pit because of a problem with his fuel pump, which cost him 30 minutes. Moss continued to gain on the leaders. By 21:00, Fangio was still at the wheel of his car and was now four laps ahead. Because of pit stops and driver changes Moss was now in second with Hawthorn dropping to third, Gregory fourth and Walt Hansgen now in fifth. In the factory Ferrari, Collins was way off the pace due to failing brakes. The small but reliable Porsche 550s were now in 8th, 9th and 10th position.[18]

With just 30 minutes to go, there was some commotion in the Maserati pits. It seemed that during the scheduled final pit stop a mechanic had spilled a large quantity of fuel on Fangio’s seat. In typical Italian fashion there was a lot of yelling and hand gestures, meanwhile, the team manager went off to find a replacement seat. They found one and Fangio returned to the race with his lead reduced. With less than half-hour to go and everyone in the Maserati pits was holding his breath.[19]

At 10 p.m. fireworks appeared over the track. This signalled the end of the race and a tremendous victory for Maserati. Coming home in first were Fangio and Behra at the wheel of their Maserati 450S with the Moss/Schell Maserati 300S in second, having reduced the lead down to just two laps. The podium was complete by the Jaguar D-Type of Hawthorn, co-driven by Ivor Bueb, the English pairing salvaging some honour for the Coventry marque. In fourth, Gregory and Lou Brero, who had earlier collapse due to heat exhaustion, were the first Ferrari to finish. Hansgen and Russ Boss were fifth in a Cunningham Jaguar D-Type, Collins and Maurice Trintignant were sixth in the first of the factory Ferrari 315 S, Portago and Luigi Musso were seventh in the other factory Ferrari 315 S, Art Bunker and Charles Wallace were eighth in a Porsche 550 RS, Jean Pierre Kunstle and Ken Miles were ninth in another Porsche 550 RS. Howard Hively and Richie Ginther rounded out the top ten in their Ferrari 500 TRC. Bunker and Wallace also came away with a first in the Index of Performance which rated cars according to performance.[20][21]

It was later revealed that Fangio had to get medical attention for painful burn blisters, from his waist down to his knees on his right side. It seems that the insulation that surrounded the exhaust pipes, which ran along the driver’s side of the car, had worn away, leaving Fangio’s lower body exposed to very, hot temperatures.

Official Classification[edit]

Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos No Class Driver Entrant Chassis Laps Reason Out
1st 19 S5.0 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio France Jean Behra Maserati Factory Maserati 450S 12hr 00:03.374, 197
2nd 20 S3.0 United Kingdom Stirling Moss United States Harry Schell Maserati Factory Maserati 300S 195
3rd 5 S5.0 United Kingdom Mike Hawthorn United Kingdom Ivor Bueb Jaguar Cars North America Jaguar D-Type 193
4th 15 S5.0 United States Masten Gregory United States Lou Brero George Tilp Ferrari 290 MM 193
5th 7 S5.0 United States Walt Hansgen United States Russ Boss B. S. Cunningham Jaguar D-Type 188
6th 11 S5.0 United Kingdom Peter Collins France Maurice Trintignant Ferrari Factory Ferrari 315 S 187
7th 12 S5.0 Spain Alfonso de Portago Italy Luigi Musso Ferrari Factory Ferrari 315 S 186
8th 44 S1.5 United States Art Bunker United States Charles Wallace Bunker & Pry Porsche 550 RS 185
9th 45 S1.5 United States Jean-Pierre Kunstle United Kingdom Ken Miles J. Kunstle Porsche 550 RS 184
10th 28 S2.0 United States Howard Hively United States Richie Ginther Temple Buell Ferrari 500 TRC 179
11th 59 S1.1 United Kingdom Colin Chapman
United States Dick Dungan
United States Joe Sheppard Lotus Company Lotus Eleven 174
12th 4 GT5.0 United States Dick Thompson Switzerland Gaston Andrey John Fitch Chevrolet Corvette C1 173
13th 47 S1.5 United States Harry Beck
United States Otto Linton
United States Hal Stetson OSCA of Italy Osca MT4 1500 170
14th 31 S2.0 Belgium Jan de Vroom
United States David Cunningham
United States George Arents J. de Vroom Ferrari 500 TRC 169
DNF 42 S1.5 United States Norman Scott United States Frank Bott Norman Scott Porsche 550 RS 168 Gearbox
15th 3 GT5.0 United States John Kilborn
United States Dale Duncan
United States Jim Jeffords Lindsay Hopkins Chevrolet Corvette C1 168
16th 2 S5.0 United States Paul O’Shea United States Pete Lovely Lindsay Hopkins Chevrolet Corvette SR-2 166
DNF 41 S1.5 West Germany Hans Herrmann United States Jack McAfee Porsche Company Porsche 550 RS 165 Gearbox
17th 36 S2.0 Venezuela Juan Fernández
Venezuela Lino Fayen
Venezuela J. L. Droullers A. C. Car Company AC Ace 161
18th 58 S1.1 United States Tom Hallock United States Max Goldman Cooper Company Cooper-Climax T39 159
19th 34 GT2.0 United States Bob Oker United States Ed Pennybacker Standard-Triumph Triumph TR3 159
20th 55 GT1.3 United States Jack Kaplan United States Charlie Rainville Jack Kaplan Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider Veloce 158
21st 33 GT2.0 United States Mike Rothschild United States Robert Johns Standard-Triumph Triumph TR3 156
22nd 35 S2.0 United States Joseph Hap Dressel
United States William F. Woodbury
United States Don Cullen A. C. Car Company AC Ace 154
23rd 49 GT1.6 Canada Alan R. N. Miller
United States Rowland Keith
Canada Ed Leavens Hambro Automotive MG A 154
24th 52 GT1.3 United States Sherman Crise United States Alan Markelson Sir S. Oakes Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider Veloce 153
25th 18 GT3.5 United States Fred Windridge
United States Rundle Gilbert
United States George Reed C. Kreisler Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 153
26th 25 GT3.5 United States Gilbert Gietner United States Ray Cuomo Hambro Automotive Austin-Healey 100 Special 151
27th 51 GT1.6 United States David Ash
United States John van Driel
United States Gus Ehrman Hambro Automotive MG A 150
28th 56 S750 United States Herman Behm
United States Sandy MacArthur
United States Carl Haas Behm Motors Stanguellini S750 Bialbero 149
29th 32 GT2.0 United States Robert Grier United States Bob Kennedy Robert Grier Morgan Plus 4 147
DNF 72 S2.0 United States John B. Mull United States Evelyn Mull A. C. Car Company AC Ace 146 Rear axle
30th 71 S2.0 United States James Cook
United States Leonard Karber
United States Ralph Durbin J. Cook Arnolt -Bristol Bolide 146
31st 40 GT1.6 West Germany Huschke von Hanstein West Germany Herbert Linge Porsche Company Porsche 356A Carrera 144
DNF 29 S2.0 United States Ed Lunken United States Charles Hassan E. Lunken Ferrari 500 TRC 143 Fuel leak
32nd 61 S1.1 Puerto Rico Victor Merino
Puerto Rico Rafael Rosales
Puerto Rico Luis Pedrerra Puerto Rico Club Lotus-Climax Eleven 141
33rd 17 GT3.5 Venezuela Chester Flynn United States Ed Hugus C. Flynn Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 138
34th 64 T1.0 France Maurice Michy France Maurice Foulgoc Renault Company Renault Dauphine 138
35th 65 T1.0 Belgium Gilberte Thirion
France G. Spydel
Switzerland Nadège Ferrier Renault Company Renault Dauphine 138
36th 50 GT1.6 United States Stephen Spitler United States William Kinchloe Hambro Automotive MG A 137
NC 66 T1.0 Belgium Paul Frère France Jean Lucas Renault Company Renault Dauphine 134
DNF 16 GT3.5 Belgium Olivier Gendebien United States Gene Greenspun Harry Kullen Ferrari 250 GT Europa Farina Coupé 111 Engine
DNF 14 S5.0 United States Phil Hill West Germany Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari Factory Ferrari 290 MM 106 Electrics
DNF 24 GT3.5 United States Ray Jackson-Miller United States Elliot Forbes-Robinson Hambro Automotive Austin-Healey 100 Special 105 Engine
DNF 23 GT3.5 United States Phil Stiles United States John Bentley Hambro Automotive Austin-Healey 100 Special 98 Fuel line
DISQ 74 S1.5 United States M. R. J. Wyllie
United States Charles Moran
United States Margaret Wyllie C. Moran Lotus Eleven Le Mans 89 Assistance
DNF 27 S2.0 United States Lance Reventlow United States Bill Pollack Lance Reventlow Maserati 200S 88 Engine
DNF 60 S1.1 United States Jay Chamberlain United States Ignacio Lozano Lotus Company Lotus Eleven 77 Fuel leak
DNF 67 S750 Argentina Alejandro de Tomaso United States Isabelle Haskell Argentine Auto Club Osca MT4 750 70
DISQ 21 S3.0 United Kingdom Roy Salvadori United States Carroll Shelby Maserati Company Maserati 250S 68 Illegal refuel
DNF 63 S1.1 United States G. Storr United States Hal Ullrich B. Stevens D.B. HBR5 67 Engine
DNF 26 S2.0 United States Jim Kimberly United States Ted Boynton James Kimberly Maserati 200S I 58 Gearbox
DNF 22 S3.0 Sweden Jo Bonnier Italy Giorgio Scarlatti A. V. Dayton Maserati 150S 55 Engine
DNF 38 S2.0 United States John Weltz United States Robert Gary S. H. Arnolt Arnolt-Bristol Bolide 51 Withdrawn
DNF 8 S5.0 United States Pat O’Connor United States Jack Ensley Jack Ensley Jaguar D-Type 50 Rear axle
DNF 37 S2.0 United States Bob Ballenger United States Jim Peterson S. H. Arnolt Arnolt-Bristol Bolide 49 Withdrawn
NC 54 GT1.3 United States Louis Comito
United States Bob Rubin
United States Bruce Kessler L. Comito Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider Veloce 42
DNF 39 S2.0 United States Bob Goldich United States S. H. Arnolt S. H. Arnolt Arnolt-Bristol Bolide 40 Fatal accident
DNF 30 S2.0 United States William Helburn United States Jim Pauley W. Helburn Ferrari 500 TRC 38 Cooling system
DNF 9 S5.0 Cuba Alfonso Gomez-Mena
Cuba Santiago González
United States Ernie Ericksson Alfonso Gomez-Mena Jaguar D-Type 37 Engine
DNF 43 S1.5 United States Ed Crawford United States Phil Stewart E. Crawford Porsche 550 RS 35 Gearbox
DNF 10 S5.0 United States Pete Woods United States Bobby Unser R. V. Milosevich Jaguar D-Type 35 Rear axle
DNF 1 S5.0 United States John Fitch Italy Piero Taruffi Lindsay Hopkins Chevrolet Corvette SS 23 Suspension
DNF 46 S1.5 United States Lloyd Ruby United States Bobby Burns R. Burns Maserati 150S 20 Valve
DNF 70 GT2.0 United Kingdom Jim Roberts United States Ed Pennybacker Triumph Company Triumph TR3 10 Suspension
DNF 6 S5.0 United States Bill Lloyd United States Briggs Cunningham B. S. Cunningham Jaguar D-Type 2 Engine
DNS 53 GT1.3 United States Frank Aldhous
United States Daniel Watters
United States Jack Brumby A. Martinez Alfa Romeo Giulietta did not start


Class Winners[edit]

Class Winners
Sports 5000 – Class C 19 Maserati 450S Behra / Fangio
Sports 3000 – Class D 20 Maserati 300S Moss / Schell
Sports 2000 – Class E 28 Ferrari 500 TRC Hively / Ginther
Sports 1500 – Class F 44 Porsche 550 RS Bunker / Wallace
Sports 1100 – Class G 59 Lotus-Climax Eleven Chapman / Sheppard / Dungan
Sports 750 – Class H 56 Stanguellini Sport Bialbero 750 Behm / Haas / MacArthur
Grand Touring 5000 – Class 10 II 4 Chevrolet Corvette Thompson / Andrey
Grand Touring 3500 – Class 9 II 18 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Windridge / Reed / Gilbert
Grand Touring 2000 – Class 7 II 34 Triumph TR3 Oker / Pennybacker
Grand Touring 1600 – Class 6 II 49 MGA Miller / Leavens / Keith
Grand Touring 1300 – Class 5 II 55 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce Kaplan / Rainville
Touring 1000 – Class 4 I 64 Renault Dauphine Michy / Foulgoc


Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Championship Points
1 Italy Maserati 14
2 Italy Ferrari 11
3 United Kingdom Jaguar 7
4 West Germany Porsche 1
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included in this set of standings.

Championship points were awarded for the first six places in each race in the order of 8-6-4-3-2-1. Manufacturers were only awarded points for their highest finishing car with no points awarded for positions filled by additional cars. Only the best 4 results out of the 7 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.


  1. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hour-grand-prix-profile/1
  2. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hour-grand-prix-profile/1
  3. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/entry/Sebring-1957-03-23.htm
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  5. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/3
  6. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/entry/Sebring-1957-03-23.html
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  8. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/3
  9. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/entry/data/Sebring-1957-03-23.html
  10. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1957/57seb.html
  11. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/4
  12. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1957/57seb.html
  13. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/4
  14. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/4
  15. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/4
  16. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/5
  17. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/4
  18. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hour-grand-prix-race-profile/5/
  19. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1957-sebring-12-hour-grand-prix-race-profile/5/
  20. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1957/57seb.html
  21. ^ http://www.sportscardigest.com/1956-sebring-12-hours-grand-prix-race-profile/5
  22. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1957/57seb.html
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-22. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
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  25. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1957/57seb.html
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-22. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
  27. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/race/Sebring-1957-03-23.html

Further reading[edit]

  • Alec Ulmann. The Sebring Story. Chilton Book Company. ASIN B0006CUAP2.

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