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HISTORY: Sebring 1966 - 2010

posted Oct 26, 2010, 2:24 PM by Elisa Myer   [ updated Sep 6, 2013, 6:54 AM ]
From Ken Breslauer's Sebring book,

"At about the three-hour mark, The Comstock Racing Ford GT40 driven by Canadian Bob McLean lost control at the big bend approaching the hairpin, rolling several times before striking a telephone pole and bursting into flames. McLean was killed and the car was destroyed."

According to the contemporary Autosport race report,

"Oulette  came in with the Comstock GT40 Ford, brake pads were changed and off went Bob McLean. Coming down towards the hairpin, McLean braked, but apparently something went wrong and the entire rear-end locked up. The car spun wildly, hit a telegraph pole, went end over end and burst into flames. The unfortunate McLean was killed instantaneously."

As we can see from oldtransamdriver, period race reports are frequently questionable, often being based on second or third hand accounts even on the spot.

In fact Sebring 1966 was a bad day at the races as the famous Ferrari suffered locked rear wheels due to transmission problems in the NART Ferrari 365P2 and collided with Don Wester's Porsche 906 causing it to crash and killing 4 spectators who were in a restricted area. This tragedy resulted in course modifications thereafter and allegedly was the reason that Ferrari did not attend the 1967 race for fear of legal repercussions

The CP&A issue of May 7 as an article by John Crittenden on the 1966 Sebring incidents. His description of the crowd behavior and of the overall atmosphere is frightening :

« Three youths stood on one of the bridges which runs above the track, throwing ice-filled cardboard cups downward at the open cockpits of the race drivers who were hanging onto cars going 140 miles per hour. »

« The mushroom of smoke out of McLean’s crash brought a wave of people springing out of the finish line bleachers, and from the entire grandstand area, running toward the hairpin turn a half-mile away. To see them run was to see the beast in man, 2,000 people in instant reaction with a single emotion : ghoulish curiosity. »

« If we locked everybody who was drunk, said policeman, there wouldn’t have been enough jails in Florida to hold them. »

« This was not a picnic or county fair atmosphere, but an asylum. »

Other similar scenes including groups of people crossing the track at night to get on the scene of an accident, someone trying to set the MG bridge on fire, etc. must have made any cop around quite edgy to say the least.

Incidents continued after the end of the race :
« At 3 a.m. Sunday, the officers hustled the last lingering fans off the grounds. All that was left was 4,700 acres of empty beer cans.
 And at the track hospital, in a small locked room, five bodies under sheets of canvas. » 
1 driver and  4 spectators killed.  

Quite an awful race all around. 

the Racing Sports Cars website has a photo of the car from the accident - http://www.racingsportscars.com/wm/photo/1966/WM_Sebring-1966-03-26-018a.jpg

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