1959 12 Hours of Sebring

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The 1959 12-Hour Florida International Grand Prix of Endurance for the Amoco Trophy took place on 21 March, on the Sebring International Raceway, (Florida, United States). It was the opening round of the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This was eighth running of the 12-hour race.



A massive total of 81 racing cars were registered for this event, of which 74 arrived for practice. Only these, 65 qualified for, and started the race. Reigning champions, Ferrari had eight of their new 250 TRs in Florida, of which three were works machines (1959 model) for their squad of drivers; Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Chuck Daigh, Olivier Gendebien, Jean Behra and Cliff Allison. Their main opposition would come from a single works Aston Martin.[1]

David Brown sent just one Aston Martin DBR1/300 over from England for Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori. Also on the entry list were some quick looking Lister-Jaguar entered by Briggs Cunningham with himself, Walt Hansgen and Stirling Moss amongst their squad. The work outfit also brought a car for Moss and paired him with Ivor Bueb.[2]


Because there were no qualifying sessions to set the grid, the starting positions were decided according to engine size with the 3.0 litre Aston Martin DBR1 of Shelby and Salvadori being given first place.[3]


Most of the 40,000 spectators expected a battle for sole Aston Martin and the Ferrari. Although early on, there was a great scrap, the Aston retired after just 32 laps with gear lever problems. This meant it really was a Ferrari battle at the front of the field for almost all the race. The official result lists the winner as the no. 7 Ferrari of Gurney, Daigh, Hill and Gendebien, but that’s not the whole story.[4][5]

For the opening four and half hours, the Ferrari of Hill and Gendebien led until suffering from a broken differential. That put the Gurney/Daigh car in front. Behra/Allison were in second, followed by Moss/Bueb. And then the heavy rain arrived and the race became intriguing. With cars sliding off all over the place, one of the most dramatic accidents come just after the six-hour mark when Robert Rollason’s Stanguellini 750 Sport collided with a pole that supported a bridge. The car hit the pole while sideways throwing it up into the air before splitting in half, and ending up on its roof. It required a number of track marshals to flip it back onto its wheels, so that Rollason could escape uninjured.[6][7][8]

The conditions made it difficult for even the very best to keep their cars under control. The works Lister-Jaguar with Moss behind the wheel, despite struggling for most of the race, came alive and moved up through the field passing both the Ferraris. After five hours, Moss led Behra and by now the little Porsche of Wolfgang von Trips and Jo Bonnier had moved into third. At this time, Scuderia Ferrari decided to call on the experience of Hill and Gendebien and added them the Gurney/Daigh car. Although the fans were not happy, this was a team event and Ferrari wanted to win. Then Moss was disqualified for illegal refuelling.[9][10]

With the better drivers now driving the no.7, Hill passed Behra for the lead and the car held on to first place until the flag dropped. After 12 hours of racing, the Scuderia Ferrari of Gurney, Daigh, Hill and Gendebien won ahead of their team-mates Behra and Allison. Car number 7, took an impressive victory, completing 188 laps, covering 977.6 miles after 12 hours of racing, averaging a speed of 81.181mph. Second place went to the second Ferrari, albeit one lap adrift. The podium was complete by works Porsche of von Trips and Bonnier who were four laps behind the winners.[11][12]

Official Classification[edit]

Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos No Class Driver Entrant Chassis Laps Reason Out
1st 7 S3.0 United States Dan Gurney
United States Phil Hill
United States Chuck Daigh
Belgium Olivier Gendebien
Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 250 TR 59 12hr 02:31.8, 188
2nd 9 S3.0 France Jean Behra United Kingdom Cliff Allison Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 250 TR 59 187
3rd 31 S2.0 West Germany Wolfgang von Trips Sweden Jo Bonnier Porsche Auto Co. Porsche 718 RSK 184
4th 34 S1.5 United States Bob Holbert United States Don Sesslar Cyrus L. Fulton Porsche 718 RSK 182
5th 32 S1.5 United States John Fitch East Germany Edgar Barth Porsche Auto Co. Porsche 718 RSK 181
6th 12 S3.0 United States E.D. Martin United States Lance Reventlow Edwin D. Martin Ferrari 250 TR 58 174
7th 14 S3.0 United States Ed Lunken
Switzerland Gaston Andrey
United States Augie Pabst James Johnston Ferrari 250 TR 58 174
8th 35 S1.5 United States Jack McAfee United Kingdom Ken Miles Precision Motors Porsche 718 RSK 173
9th 70 GT3.5 United States Howard Hively United States Richie Ginther Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 250 GT California 171
10th 37 S1.5 United States Ernie Erickson United States Ed Hugus Chester J. Flynn Porsche 7118 RSK 170
11th 33 GT1.6 West Germany Huschke von Hanstein Netherlands Carel Godin de Beaufort Porsche Auto Co. Porsche 356A Carrera GT 164
12th 3 S3.0 United States Walt Hansgen United States Dick Thompson B.S. Cunningham Lister-Jaguar 164
13th 19T S2.0 United States Lloyd Casner
United States Dan Collins
United States Jim Hunt North American Racing Team Ferrari 500 TRC 164
14th 25 GT2.0 United States Bobby Burns
United States James Cook
United States Roy Jackson-Moore A.C. Cars, Ltd. AC Ace 164
15th 4 S3.0 United States Briggs Cunningham
United States Russ Boss
United States Lake Underwood
United Kingdom Stirling Moss
B.S. Cunningham Lister-Jaguar 164
16th 44 GT1.3 United States Jake Kaplan United States Charlie Rainville Jake Kaplan Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider Veloce 162
17th 59 S750 France Gérard Laureau France Paul Armagnac Deutsch & Bonnet DB-Panhard HBR4 162
18th 60 S750 Argentina Alejandro de Tomaso
United States Isabel Haskell
United States Denise McCluggage
Mexico Ricardo Rodríguez
Alejandro de Tomaso Osca S750 161
19th 48 S1.1 United States Frank Baptista
United States Art Tweedale
United States Charles Wallace Elva Engineering Co. Elva-Climax Mk IV 160
20th 15 GT3.5 Cuba Alfonso Gomez-Mena Cuba Juan Montalvo Auto Sport Club, Havana Ferrari 250 GT LWB 160
21st 45 GT1.3 United States Pete Lovely
United States Sam Weiss
United States Jay Chamberlain Team Lotus Lotus Elite 160
22nd 24 GT2.0 United States Arch Means
United States Ross Wees
United States Charles Kurtz A. C. Car Ltd AC Ace 159
23rd 49 S1.1 United States Burdette Martin
United States Chuck Dietrich
United States William Jordan Elva Engineering Co. Elva-Climax Mk IV 158
24th 23T GT2.0 United States Lonnie Rix United States Ed Rahal A. C. Car Ltd AC Ace 158
25th 26 GT2.0 United States Max Goldman
United States Sydney H. Arnolt
United States Ralph Durbin S. H. Arnolt Arnolt Boldie 155
26th 22 GT2.0 United States Mike Rothschild United States Arch McNeill Fergus Motors (Morgan M.) Morgan Plus 4 155
27th 28 GT1.6 United States Ray Saidel United States Gus Ehrman Hambro Auto Corp. MG A Twin Cam 155
28th 64 GT750 United States Bill Rutan
United States Paul Richards
United States Ray Cuomo Roosevelt Auto Co. Inc. Fiat-Abarth 750 Record Monza 152
29th 62 GT750 Italy Lanzo Cussini Italy Remo Cattini Roosevelt Auto Co. Inc. Fiat-Abarth 750 Record Monza 150
30th 65 GT750 United States Bob Kuhn United States Jim Jeffords George F. Schrafft Fiat-Abarth 750 Record Monza 149
31st 54 GT1.0 United States Phil Stiles Canada Hugh Sutherland Hambro Auto Corp. Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite 149
32nd 63 GT750 Italy Mario Poltonieri Italy Alfonso Thiele Roosevelt Auto Co. Inc. Fiat-Abarth 750 Record Monza 147
33rd 40 S1.5 United States Charles Moran, Jr. United States George Rand Charles Moran, Jr. Lotus-Climax Eleven 145
34th 29 GT1.6 United Kingdom John Dalton United States Jim Parkinson Hambro Auto Corp. MG A Twin Cam 145
35th 51 GT1.3 United States Harry Blanchard United States Skip Callahan Harry C. Blanchard Lancia Appia Zagato 144
36th 53 GT1.0 United States Ed Leavens United States Harold Kunz Hambro Auto Corp. Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite 142
37th 58 S750 France Henri Perrier United States Bill Wood Deutsch & Bonnet DB-Panhard HBR4 141
38th 55 GT1.0 Canada Fred Hayes
United States John Colgate
United States John Christy Hambro Auto Corp. Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite 141
39th 43 GT1.3 United States Bob Pfaff
United States Wynn Kramarsky
United States Louis Comito
United States Tom O’Brien
Louis Comito Alfa Romeo Giuletta Veloce 140
40th 52 GT1.3 Switzerland Peter Baumberger
United States Walter Cronkite
United States Warren Rohlfs Charles Kreisler Lancia Appia Zagato 140
41st 18 S2.0 United States Jim Hall United States Hap Sharp Carroll Shelby Sports Cars Maserati 250S 138
42nd 42 GT1.3 United States Bob Rubin
United States Louis Comito
United States Bob Grossman Robert Grossman Alfa Romeo Giuletta Veloce 134
DNF 10 S3.0 United States Rod Carveth United States Gilbert Geitner North American Racing Team Ferrari 250 TR 58 130 Collision
DNF 21 GT2.0 United States Charles Kolb
United States Gene Hobbs
United States Fred Moore Standard Triumph Motor Co. Triumph TR3 128 Valve
NC 80 GT1.0 United States Fred Lieb United States Smokey Drolet Turner Sports Cars, Ltd. Turner 750 Sport 128
DNF 27 S2.0 Canada Harry Entwistle Canada Bob Hanna Autosport, Ltd. Lotus-Climax 15 126 Electrics
NC 47 S1.1 United States Tom Fleming
United States Harry Dager
United States Bill Schade Team Lotus Lotus-Climax Eleven 123
NC 30 GT1.6 United States Ray Pickering
United States Sherman Decker
United States Jack Flaherty Hambro Auto Corp. MG A Twin Cam 121
DNF 38 S1.5 United States Carl Haas
United States Jay Middleton
United States Frank Campbell Automobile OSCA Osca S1500 115 Wet ignition
NC 16 GT3.5 United States George Reed
United States George Arents
United States Don O’Dell RRR Enterprises Ferrari 250 GT LWB 110
NC 56 S1.1 Ricardo Rodríguez United States Frank Bott Automobile OSCA Osca S950 106
DISQ 2 S3.0 United Kingdom Ivor Bueb United Kingdom Stirling Moss The Lister Corp. Lister-Jaguar 98 Illegal refuelling
NC 20 GT2.0 United States Robert Samm
United States Fred Moore
United States John Bentley Standard Triumph Motor Co. Triumph TR3 98
DNF 66 S750 United States Robert Rollason United States Sandy MacArthur Sandy MacArthur Stanguelliin S750 Bialbero 97 Accident
DNF 57 GT1.0 United States Howard Hanna United States Richard Toland Deutsch & Bonnet DB-Panhard HBR4 82 Engine
DNF 61 S750 United States Alan Markelson United States Rees Makins Automobile OSCA Osca S750 82 Electrics
DNF 8 S3.0 Belgium Olivier Gendebien United States Phil Hill Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 250 TR 59 77 Differential
DNF 11 S3.0 Mexico Pedro Rodríguez United States Paul O’Shea Mexican National Auto Club Ferrari 250 TR 58 66 Engine
DNF 46 GT1.3 United States Jay Chamberlain United States Sam Weiss Team Lotus Lotus Elite 65 Engine
DNF 36 S1.5 Argentina Roberto Mieres
Argentina Pedro von Döry
Argentina Anton von Döry Count von Döry Porsche 718 RSK 34 Camshaft
DNF 50 S1.1 United States M.R.J. Wyllie
United States Margaret Wyllie
United States Skip Lange M.R.J. Wyllie Elva-Climax Mk. IV 34 Suspension
DNF 1 S3.0 United Kingdom Roy Salvadori United States Carroll Shelby David Brown-Aston Martin Aston Martin DBR1/300 32 Gear lever
DNF 41 GT1.3 Mexico Fred van Beuren
Mexico Mario Mercader
Mexico Javier Velásquez Fred T. van Beuren Alfa Romeo Giuletta Veloce 31 Accident
DNF 39 S1.5 France Jean Lucas France Jean-François Malle Los Amigos Cooper-Climax Monaco T49 20 Oil loss
DNF 17 GT3.5 United States Duncan Forlong
United States David Schiff
United States Joe Sheppard Joe Sheppard-David Schiff Aston Martin DB2/4 11 Piston
DNS 5 S3.0 United States Ed Lawrence
United States Ralph Durbin
United States James Cook Rallye Motors Maserati 300S Fatal accident
DNS 19 S3.0 United States Lloyd Casner United States Jim Hunt North American Racing Team Ferrari 250 TR
DNS 23 GT2.0 United States Lonnie Rix
United States George Avent
United States Ed Rahal A. C. Car Ltd AC Ace practiced only
(Road accident)


Class Winners[edit]

Class Winners
Sports 3000 – Class D 7 Ferrari 250 TR 59 Gurney / Daigh / Hill / Gendebien
Sports 2000 – Class E 31 Porsche 718 RSK von Trips / Bonnier
Sports 1500 – Class F 34 Porsche 718 RSK Holbert / Sessiar
Sports 1100 – Class G 48 Elva-Climax Mk IV Baptista / Wallace / Tweedale
Sports 750 – Class H 59 D.B.-Panhard HBR4 Laureau / Armagnac
Grand Touring 3500 – Class 9 70 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Hively / Ginther
Grand Touring 2000 – Class 7 25 AC Ace Burns / Jackson-Moore / Cook
Grand Touring 1600 – Class 6 33 Porsche 356A Carrera GT von Hanstein / de Beaufort
Grand Touring 1300 – Class 5 44 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider Veloce Kaplan / Rainville
Grand Touring 1000 – Class 4 54 Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite Stiles / Sutherland
Grand Touring 750 – Class 3 64 Fiat-Abarth 750 Record Monza Rutan / Cuomo / Richards


Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Championship Points
1 Italy Ferrari 8
2 West Germany Porsche 4
  • 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 3 results out of the 5 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.


Further reading[edit]

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

World Sportscar Championship
Previous race:
1958 RAC Tourist Trophy
1959 season Next race:
Targa Florio