The classic American 12 Hours Sports Car Race at Sebring in Florida is upcoming on March 14/15, 2020 and this will mark the 50th Anniverary of an amazing comeback race win for Ferrari and for Mario Andretti and his teammates in the 1970 race. The above picture is of Mario, one of America’s greatest drivers, in the 512 S #19 Team Ferrari entry that was on the pole for that 12 hour endurance test. The #19 Big Red Machine would lead a good portion of the race until deep into the night before the finish and suffer gearbox issues for a number of laps with Arturio Mezzario at the wheel and then would fail some laps short of the end. At that point of the race, underdogs Peter Revson and Hollywood Superstar, Steve McQueen in a privately entered Porsche 908 spyder, took over in the lead.
Earlier in the race a great picture of Mario in the Ferrari 512 S and Steve McQueen in the Porsche 908 Spyder #48.
So when the gearbox let go on the #19 Ferrari, Mario figured his racing for a win that day/night was over for another year and was actually ready to leave the track when Team Manager Mauro Foeguerri grabbed him and said they were going to put him in the third Team Ferrari 512 that was lying in 3rd place and the current driver was not fast enough and Mario would replace him at the next stop. Sound familiar to a famous movie to be filmed later that year, right?…..So Mario, always a very hard charger, was put into the #21 Ferrari 512 S that was down over a lap to the 908 Porsche that Revson was now driving to the end. Mario said he drove like a man possessed and unlapped himself and put the red machine in the lead. But the drama did not end there. With just a few laps to go, the fuel light came on and the reserve was not enough to finish, so he had to pit for a splash of fuel to get to the end. Doing so, the lead again went back to Peter Revson in the #48 white Porsche and there pits, including Steve McQueen and their team started to think they had it in the bag. But Mario again drove like a Bat Outta Hell and caught and passed the slightly under powered 3 litre Porsche to pull off an amazing comeback win just before the end of the 1970 race.
The #21 race winning Ferrari 512 S during daylight hours at the Webster Corners catches a Mustang AS/Trans Am class car.
Even to this day Mario will say that the Sebring 1970 win in the Team #21 Ferrari 512 S was one of his best and memorable drives and race comebacks of all the many of his races of a VERY long career in motorsports.
With the 2020 Sebring race coming up in the next 2 weeks, we will see what kind of drama takes place. It is now so amazing that the ENTIRE race is run as a sprint, like Mario’s last laps all those years ago, and many times after 12-24 Hours the races are won be just a few seconds with many cars still on the same laps.
Until next time,…………TACH IT UP….!!!