In the spectator paddock the Sebring party atmosphere was in full swing with one college fraternity blasting out rock and roll music on a turntable connected to car batteries. Piles of beer bottles continued to grow along with the piles of trash usually left behind by the crowd. The track had plenty of 55-gallon trash drums in the spectator area but they were seriously underused. The paper cups and other detritus of Sebring would eventually take several days to clean up. Not until the Earth Day movement started in California in 1970 would people at events like Sebring be more accepting of depositing trash, cans and bottles in proper receptacles. It was speculated by some in those days that a large number of the spectators at Sebring saw little if anything of the race. They were there to party.
As the sun dipped lower in the sky driving became more difficult because both the Hairpin turn and the last turn before the start-finish were on the western edges of the circuit and drivers drove directly into the setting sun. More than one driver of an open cockpit car was seen to take a hand off the steering wheel to shield his eyes from the sun’s glare. It would be at this point that some drivers were wishing for darkness.
After eight hours of racing (6 p.m.) the official results being sent by messenger to the grid from the timing shack showed the Rodriguez brothers in the lead. However, a later examination of the lap charts, after the race, would lead to several revisions and a reluctant admission of errors by Sebring officials. Today the officially accepted rankings at that hour list the Hill/Gendebien Ferrari first, the Ginther/von Trips Ferrari second and the Rodriguez brothers Ferrari third and that is the way it would stay until the flare signaling the end of the race would be fired into the air at 10 p.m.
Along the front straight a sign was produced at 6:15 p.m. by the chief starter with one word on it, “LIGHTS.” It was the official signal for drivers to turn on their lights. In anticipation of this practically all of the racers had the protective coverings removed from headlights and driving lights during their previous pit stop. That protective tape as well as screens in front of air intakes protected vital components from track debris. Parts of Sebring were paved with asphalt that sometimes would break up under the pounding of the race cars. Debris thrown up by leading cars could literally sandblast the fronts of cars and even driver’s helmets or occasionally puncture a radiator. On an occasion or two a competitor might drop a wheel off the pavement, on purpose, to kick up some rocks and sand to discourage a driver from following too closely.