Video: Re-live the dramatic 1966 12 Hours of Sebring

14th March 2019
Seán Ward

What would it have been like to watch the 12 Hours of Sebring live in 1966? And what would it have been like to have driven the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966, at a time when motorsport safety really wasn’t what it was now? Thankfully YouTube is on hand to help.

This week, motorsport fans around the world will turn their attention to a town in Florida called Sebring for the 67th 12 Hours of Sebring, or the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, as it’s officially known.

38 cars are scheduled to take part, with Daytona International Prototypes from Acura, Cadillac and Mazda at the front of the grid, and drivers like Brendon Hartley, Juan Pablo Montoya, Harry Tincknell and Timo Bernhard. Behind the DPIs you’ll find a duo of Oreca LMP2 cars fielded by two separate teams, and behind those you’ll find GT Le Mans (GTLM) cars and GT Daytona (GTD) cars, with drivers like Jan Magnussen, Nick Tandy, Lars Kern and Patrick Long at the wheel.

Wind the clock back to 1966, though, and it was all quite different. Everything about motorsport – cars, tracks, drivers, fuels, tyres – has changed an awful lot since the 1960s. Sure, the cars today still have four wheels and races are run at tracks with the same names, but safety has improved, cars produce more downforce, the tyres produce more grip, and so on.

The 1966 field was made up of 64 cars, ranging from Prototypes like the Ferrari 330P3 and Sport Prototypes such as the Shelby Cobra, to GT Cars like the Porsche 911. The long list of drivers included names like Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant, Phil Hill, Jackie Stewart, Lorenzo Bandini and Timo Mäkinen to name just a few.

All things considered, the race is best described as dramatic. Dan Gurney, who qualified in pole position with team-mate Jerry Grant, failed to get his car started at the beginning of the race, and therefore dropped back to last place immediately. Gurney clawed his way back into the lead for the final lap of the race when the engine blew. He pushed the car across the line to take 2nd position, but was disqualified for doing so.

Elsewhere, just four hours after the start of the race, Canadian Bob McLean, at the wheel of a Ford GT40, was killed when his car crashed, rolled and caught fire. Later, with just two hours of the race still to run, Don Wester in a Porsche 906 collided with Mario Andretti in his Ferrari 365P2. Wester flew off the track, killing three spectators instantly and injuring another who died three days later in hospital.

Image by Motorsport Images.

  • Sebring

  • Sebring 12 Hour

  • Endurance

  • Motorsport

  • Ford

  • GT40

  • Dan Gurney

  • Bob Bondurant

  • Graham Hill

  • Jackie Stewart

  • Jerry Grant

  • Mario Andretti

  • Bob McLean



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