As the results came in from timing and scoring for the first hour of racing it showed the Siffert/Bell Porsche in first but that would change soon when the four penalty laps were deducted. The Donohue/Hobbs Ferrari was second, Andretti/Ickx Ferrari third, Rodriguez and Oliver fourth in their Porsche and fifth was the Vic Elford, Gerard Larrousse Martini 917.
Within minutes those rankings would change as cars came in for scheduled pit stops and driver changes but the Elford/Larrousse 917 would stay in the top 5 for the rest of the race.
Back in the pits NART driver Swede Savage was trying his best to replace a dead battery by himself. The NART mechanics were already engaged in trying to get another car up and running. Later he and co-driver Peter Revson would work together in switching out an anti-sway bar.
Because they had the largest contingent of Ferraris at Sebring in ’71 The NART pits seemed to attract several fans who hung around for hours watching the action and hoping to get a glimpse of the kind of yelling and disorganization mostly common to the factory Ferrari teams. For them it was light entertainment and they were not disappointed when George Eaton came in for a scheduled pit stop and driver change for his NART Ferrari 312 P.
Just minutes before there had been a little panic in that same pit when relief driver Luigi Chinetti, Jr. couldn’t find his helmet. Some thought it had been stolen and Chinetti began trying on other helmets but none would fit. All of this was accompanied by a lot of hand gestures, yelling and cursing and when Eaton jumped out of the car and into the pit he was told he had to go out again because of the helmet problem.
Being the stalwart fellow that he was Eaton got back into the now fueled car and back into the race. Not long after one of the crew said that Chinetti’s helmet was probably in the NART house trailer. Someone had placed it there thinking that Chinetti was in it taking a nap before his stint at the wheel.
At the Hairpin Turn the lunch wagon had just departed after dropping off boxed lunches to the corner marshals when Greg Young’s Ferrari came into the turn a little too fast due to brake fade. He barely made it through the turn going off the pavement and his car made contact with the sandbank on the other side of the track. The sandbank at that point was like a ramp and the Ferrari was launched into the air traveling some distance before landing on its nose. It then pivoted and landed on its top in a shallow culvert which prevented Young from opening the driver’s side door.
Three corner marshals were already running toward the car before it hit the ground and as they approached they could see that the driver was trapped and there was the odor of gasoline fumes in the air.
With the help of others, they lifted the car high enough for Young to begin exiting the car. As the driver was crawling away from the car it erupted in flames forcing all to retreat but the driver was safe and no one was burned. Young was examined by medical personal arriving on the scene but all he had was a few bruises. He was indeed very lucky that day. For their heroic actions the corner marshals were later honored with the Hayden Williams Sportsmanship Award.
Author’s Note: In the litigious world we live in tracks like Daytona and Sebring now prohibit corner marshals from “going over the wall” onto a hot track to assist any drivers involved in an accident. Their only “approved” action is to radio for help from emergency trucks stationed around the track. In my opinion, as an experienced corner marshal, if that policy had been in effect at Sebring in 1971 then Greg Young might not have survived that accident.