1960 12 Hours of Sebring – Race Profile Page Seven
On lap 21 Ginther and Daigh set a new record average of 94.479 mph. This broke the record of 93.6 mph set by Stirling Moss in an Aston-Martin in 1959. Five laps later the Cooper Monaco Maserati of Hap Sharp and Jim Hall swallowed a piston just after turn one and the driver parked the car and began the trek back to the pits. One lap after that the Briggs Cunningham, John Fitch Corvette suffered a rear hub failure going into the Webster turns. Just as driver Fitch was going into the hard turns of Webster a wheel snapped off the Corvette causing the car to roll over. Witnesses said that Fitch was out of the car before it finally came to rest, chasing the errant wheel that was rolling towards the track surface and endangering the other drivers. Fortunately Fitch was not injured but he knew that media legend Walter Cronkite was broadcasting the race nationally on the radio from the pits. He quickly returned to the pits and tried to find a phone to call his wife in Connecticut and tell her he was okay.
At the start of the lunch hour the Moss/Gurney Maserati continued to lead with the Ginther/Daigh Ferrari second, the Hansgen/Crawford Maserati third, the Rodriguez brother’s Ferrari fourth and then three of the Porsches. This would be the hottest time of the day and pit stops and driver changes became more frequent as the heat took its toll on man and machine alike. Even the pit crews were suffering in the heat as some of the Germanic and previously very pale crews, began to show the effects of too much sun. Wives and girlfriends were being dispatched to vendors in the paddock or into the town of Sebring to find sun-tan lotion. Unfortunately in those day the stuff had little or no sunblock. No doubt when they got back to a very cold Europe they would have to explain their red and pealing sun burns.
The drivers and crews were not the only ones suffering from the heat as the first aid station in the spectator infield began to experience brisk business. Manned by volunteer Red Cross and Civil Defense workers they treated over 90 race fans for a variety of ailments including sun burn, cuts, bruises, excessive alcohol consumption, fainting brought on by the heat and minor burns from camp fires and cooking fires. The worst case was a race fan who took a header off the top of one of one of the grand stands and had to be transported to a hospital for observation.
The high track temperatures increased tire wear and pit stops usually included a complete set of new tires. Tire vendors in the paddock were hard pressed to keep the teams supplied. Out on the track bits of black tire rubber were being thrown onto the track surface with noticeable deposits on the outside of the Hairpin and Webster turns. Any car going wide in those turns might lose traction and end up in a sand bank. The better prepared driver usually carried a shovel in the trunk or behind the driver’s seat in case one needed to dig one’s self out.