The Rodriguez brothers had been racing at Sebring for several years. The first time they raced at Sebring they were too young to legally drive in Florida but could drive a race car because they had obtained an F.I.A. race license in their native Mexico. Ironically in 1961 Stirling Moss could not drive himself to the track because his British driving license had been suspended for one year for dangerous driving in his native England. Like the Rodriguez brothers, when they were young, he had to be chauffeured to the track.
Belgian Olivier Gendebien arrived at the track for practice in a foul mood. It seems that he had been stopped for speeding on his way south and had to pay a $150.00 speeding fine before he could continue on his way. To keep that in perspective, $150.00 in 1961 is the equal of almost $1200.00 today. Gendebien would be co-driving a factory Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa 61 with Phil Hill.
Adding an air of nobility to this event would be Count Wolfgang von Trips of Germany. His full name was Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximilian Reichsgraf Berghe von Trips. Some in the pits at Sebring in ’61 nicknamed him Wolfgang von Crash because of the numerous accidents he had in racing. Tragically von Trips would die at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza six months after Sebring when his Ferrari went off the track and into a barrier. Not only did he die but fifteen spectators were also killed. Some believed his fate to die young had been determined since the plane he was to take to the U.S.A., following the Italian Grand Prix, crashed in Scotland.