1970 12 HOURS OF SEBRING RACE | STEVE McQUEEN’S BRUSH WITH VICTORY

Steve McQueen at the 1970 Sebring 12 Hour Race drove with his left foot in a cast due to a motorcycle accident. He had to have the foot wrapped in asbestos cloth because the plaster cast was transferring too much engine heat to his foot. His crew is re-wrapping his foot making final adjustments to make it as comfortable as possible.

“Steve McQueen at the 1970 Sebring 12 Hour Race drove with his left foot in a cast due to a motorcycle accident. He had to have the foot wrapped in asbestos cloth because the plaster cast was transferring too much engine heat to his foot. His crew is re-wrapping his foot making final adjustments to make it as comfortable as possible.” –Louis Galanos

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I’ll be the first to admit that any reference to Steve McQueen these days can seem pretty freakin’ cliche. So what.  Seriously though– the fact that McQueen (partnered with Peter Revson) raced with a broken left foot in a cast and came in 2nd to Mario Andretti is pretty amazing in my book.  Throw in some pretty cool insider commentary by the photographer Louis Galanos, and remembrances from others at the race, and you’ve got an amazing trip back in time that combines the best of vintage Hollywood and racing history.

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Steve McQueen screwing around before the Sebring, Florida 12-Hour Race (Tri-X).  You can clearly see that his left foot is in a cast.

Steve McQueen screwing around on a scooter before the Sebring, Florida 12-Hour Race (Tri-X). You can clearly see that his left foot is in a cast. ©Al Satterwhite

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Steve McQueen with a journalist in the pit area at the 1970 Sebring 12 Hours.

Steve McQueen was talking to a journalist when I took the photo. I was a race worker at the 1970 Sebring race and had access to the pits. Out of courtesy to him I pointed to my camera and asked him if I could take his photo. All he said was, ‘OK, but don’t ask me to pose.'”  –Louis Galanos

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“Steve McQueen with some of the Porsche mechanics at the legendary 1970 Sebring 12 Hour race. From left to right are: Kurt Mayer, Steve McQueen, Gerd Schmid and Dieter Wurster. Steve entered his Solar Productions Porsche 908/02 in the race and much to their surprise he and his co-driver Peter Revson came in second being beaten only by 23 seconds. Probably the best Sebring ever.” –Louis Galanos

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During March 12, 1970, one of the most hotly contested races in the history of the Sebring 12 Hour was run, pitting the legendary Mario Andretti against the upstart team of actor Steve McQueen and partner Peter Revson.  McQueen’s upcoming role in the feature film Le Mans motivated him to campaign his “Little Porsche” 908 against a seemingly invincible field of the world’s greatest cars and drivers.  As the field thinned, the team of McQueen and Revson found themselves battling it out for the win as the race closed to it’s final thirty minutes.

After 227 laps, Andretti’s #19 Ferrari 512 S was forced to retire due to gearbox problems.  Mario literally jumped into the team’s #21 Ferrari  and drove “like a man possessed”,  crossing the finish line for the win just scant seconds ahead of the McQueen-Revson Porsche.  Following this race,  the bonding company for the movie forced McQueen to stop racing,  much to his dismay.  However, the “little Porsche” #48 was used as the camera car for the on-track race sequences in the film.

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On the long airport straight at Sebring we see the #48 Porsche 980/02 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson. The red #23 Ferrari 312PB was driven by Tony Adamowicz and Luigi Chinetti. The car that looks like it is trying to come up between the Porsche and Ferrari is the #73 Austin-Healey Sprite driven by Janet Guthrie, Rosemary Smith and Judy Kondratiff. To the far left is the #47 Porsche 908/02 of Hans Laine and Gijs van Lennep. Only two cars finished the race. The McQueen Porsche finished 2nd and the Guthrie Austin-Healey finished 19th. Note: This Austin-Healey Sprite body style became known as the Sebring Sprite.

On the long airport straight at Sebring we see the #48 Porsche 980/02 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson. The red #23 Ferrari 312PB was driven by Tony Adamowicz and Luigi Chinetti. The car that looks like it is trying to come up between the Porsche and Ferrari is the #73 Austin-Healey Sprite driven by Janet Guthrie, Rosemary Smith and Judy Kondratiff. To the far left is the #47 Porsche 908/02 of Hans Laine and Gijs van Lennep. Only two cars finished the race. The McQueen Porsche finished 2nd and the Guthrie Austin-Healey finished 19th. Note: This Austin-Healey Sprite body style became known as the Sebring Sprite. –Louis Galanos

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The Steve McQueen - Peter Revson Porsche 908/2 at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring.

“This is the Porsche 908/2 that Steve McQueen co-drove with Revlon heir Peter Revson to a 2nd place finish behind the Ferrari 512S of Mario Andretti. Revson did most of the driving due to McQueen’s bandaged foot. Peter Revson died not long after this race in a Formula 1 accident. McQueen used this same car as a camera car and entrant in the 1970 24 Hours of Lemans. The racing footage was eventually used in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans that was released in 1971.”  –Louis Galanos

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Steve McQueen Porsche Sebring 1970

The “McQueen 908″ that was up for auction last August in California was withdrawn because of questions about authenticity. It seems that the owner couldn’t prove that his car had enough original parts to be considered authentic. –Louis Galanos

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Mario Andretti in his Ferrari 512S Spyder at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring. This car led most of the race and retired with gearbox problems 21 laps from the finish allowing the Porsche 908 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson to take the lead. Andretti jumped to the #21 team Ferrari 512S to eventually win the race by 22 seconds. Reason: The 512 had a V12 4994 cc engine while the Porsche had a V8 with only 2997 cc's. Remarkable that the Porsche came in second. Andretti thinks that McQueen's co-driver Peter Revson was the reason the car remained competitive for the whole race. According to Andretti, Revson drove 8 of the 12 hours.  --Nigel Smuckatelli

“Mario Andretti in his Ferrari 512S Spyder at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring. This car led most of the race and retired with gearbox problems 21 laps from the finish allowing the Porsche 908 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson to take the lead. Andretti jumped to the #21 team Ferrari 512S to eventually win the race by 22 seconds. Reason: The 512 had a V12 4994 cc engine while the Porsche had a V8 with only 2997 cc’s. Remarkable that the Porsche came in second. Andretti thinks that McQueen’s co-driver Peter Revson was the reason the car remained competitive for the whole race. According to Andretti, Revson drove 8 of the 12 hours.” –Louis Galanos

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Mario Andretti wasn’t very happy about McQueen getting so much attention, “I remember they kept announcing, ‘Steven McQueen! Steve McQueen! Steve McQueen!” Andretti said in a phone interview, “They never mentioned Revson, and Revson drove the lion’s share of that race because Steve had a broken foot. Revson was doing a phenomenal job, obviously, but he never got mentioned. So that sort of motivated me somewhat.”

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The Martini & Rossi vehicle bridge just yards from the start/finish line. The car in the picture is the #19 Ferrari of Mario Andretti and Arturo Merzario. The car was leading at the time I took the photo. The car had mechanical problems later and Andretti jumped to the #21 Ferrari 512 for the win just 22 seconds ahead of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson's Porsche.

The Martini & Rossi vehicle bridge just yards from the start/finish line. The car in the picture is the #19 Ferrari of Mario Andretti and Arturo Merzario. The car was leading at the time I took the photo. The car had mechanical problems later and Andretti jumped to the #21 Ferrari 512 for the win just 22 seconds ahead of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson’s Porsche.

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The parade lap at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring. On the left is the NART Ferrari 312P Coupe of Mike Parkes and Chuck Parsons. The car finished 6th. On the right is the #48 Porsche 908/02 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson. The car finished 2nd only 22 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. That is McQueen seen driving in this photo.

The parade lap at the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring. On the left is the NART Ferrari 312P Coupe of Mike Parkes and Chuck Parsons. The car finished 6th. On the right is the #48 Porsche 908/02 of Steve McQueen and Peter Revson. The car finished 2nd only 22 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. That is McQueen seen driving in this photo.

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70 Sebring038- Sebring - McQueen 8x10

 

“Believe it or not, Steve McQueen and his co-driver Peter Revson (seen here looking over lap charts) may have won Sebring in 1970. How did I come to this conclusion? I wrote an article for Sports Car Digest about my meeting Steve McQueen at the race in 1970. One of the readers responded with a very credible story that puts forth the premise that the McQueen/Revson Porsche 908 actually won and not the Ferrari 512 of Mario Andretti.”–Louis Galanos

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Steve Mcqueen Dakota Jacket

Steve McQueen in the Gulf-branded Dakota racing jacket that became an icon.  Five-time world champion driver and legend Juan Manuel Fangio meets Steve McQueen during the filming of the movie Le Mans.via

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McQueen sitting on the pit wall during practice at the 1970 Sebring 12 hour race.

McQueen sitting on the pit wall during practice at the 1970 Sebring 12 hour race. ©Al Satterwhite

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Peter Revson, a hugely talented driver with a fascinating life story.

Peter Revson, a hugely talented driver with a fascinating life story.

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Samuel Morris Revson was a Russian Jew who left his home country to avoid being conscripted into the Czarist army and to find a new life in America. His three sons Joseph, Charles and Martin all became involved in a cosmetics company they established in 1932. Martin was the sales manager and owned 10% of the shares. Revlon was a huge success. Martin married a nightclub singer called Julie Phelps Hall in 1938 and settled in the glamorous Westchester neighborhood, where their son Peter was born in February 1939.

Peter Revson grew up surrounded by money, went to the best schools and ended up at Cornell University, in upstate New York. His father left the business in 1958 and so young Peter was never involved in the cosmetics industry. After he graduated he went off to Hawaii where in 1961 he started competing in a Morgan. Gradually racing took over and in 1962 he went into partnership with a former Cornell classmate Timmy Mayer to establish the Rev-Em Formula Junior team, which was run by Tim’s brother Teddy.

In 1963 they decided to go to Europe to take part in Formula Junior races. Revson did well and by the end of the year had had his first taste of F1 in the Gold Cup at Oulton Park. Timmy Mayer was killed early in 1964 when racing in the Tasman series and Revson Racing, run by Reg Parnell, ran a Lotus-BRM for Revson in 11 events, including six World Championship races. There were no very impressive results and in 1965 Revson raced only occasionally in Europe, in Formula 2 and Formula 3 cars, winning at Monaco. But he enjoyed more success in sports cars in America. For the next five years he concentrated on CanAm.

His younger brother Doug was killed in a Formula 3 accident in Denmark in 1967 but this did not dampen his enthusiasm for the sport and in 1969 he finished fifth at Indianapolis and won an Indy car race at Indianapolis Raceway Park in aBrabham-Repco.

In 1972 he returned to F1 with the Yardley McLaren team, which was by then being run by Teddy Mayer, and in 1973 he showed his class by winning the British and Canadian Grands Prix, the former in most impressive style under difficult conditions. However, despite his success, Peter had a slightly strained relationship with Mayer and determined to prove himself away from McLaren. He signed to drive for the Shadow F1 team in 1974 but was killed testing in preparation for the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami when his car suffered a front suspension failure.

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RELATED TSY POSTS:

STEVE McQUEEN | HOLLYWOOD’S ANTI-HERO & TRUE SON OF LIBERTY

STEVE McQUEEN | LE MANS & BEYOND GRATUITOUS 1970s RACING GOODNESS

JACKIE STEWART | THE FLYING SCOT’S OLD SCHOOL FORMULA ONE STYLE

VINTAGE RACING STYLE | LEGENDARY DRIVERS CRUSHING IT ON AND OFF THE TRACK

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25 thoughts on “1970 12 HOURS OF SEBRING RACE | STEVE McQUEEN’S BRUSH WITH VICTORY

  1. Gorgeous! Just enthralled by this story. Also love that McQueen was in a Porsche. When I was a real little kid I used to daydream that they might make the Porsche 959 street legal and that Dad would get one. Still holding out.

  2. That speculation about the McQueen team winning was known at the time. A corner worker approached Steve at the end of the race saying that he thought he’d won and encouraging him to submit a protest, but McQueen was happy with his 2nd place and didn’t protest, not wanting to look the spoiled Hollywood type — a class act.

    Oh, and Indian Summer Vintage, the 959 IS now street legal.. thanks in large part to Bill Gates, who owned his for many many years without being able to street it. After a fair bit of court time, the case now is that if a car is sufficiently rare as to make crash testing impractical, exemptions can be granted, even for cars younger than 25 years. So you might want to give your Pops a call and try and convince him again. ;)

  3. Pingback: #68: King « Indian Summer Vintage

    • ASB,

      Take a look at Minidoodle and let us know what you find.

      I always wanted one of those mini-bike kits. In the early 80’s dad bought me a clapped-out 70’s era racing kart. Of course I was pissed, especially after finding out it belonged to my cousin. I wanted a mini-bike, not an old go-kart. Nevertheless, the kart wasn’t too shabby; it had a ported Briggs and Stratton 5hp with a larger carb or something. Though there wasn’t really a seat, or full floor for that matter, the feeling of riding that close to the ground at 60mph around my neighborhood was something I’ll never forget. So, screw a minibike.

  4. Pingback: The Kretz Racing Legacy | Father and Son AMA Hall of Famers « The Selvedge Yard

  5. Hi,
    Greats pictures!!!!!
    When you wrote: “Steve McQueen in the Gulf-branded Dakota racing jacket that became an icon.”, you forgot to mention about who is in the picture with Steve…… just a man that won 5 times the F1 world Championship!!!!!
    Cheers, Eddie.

  6. Pingback: REQUIRED VIEWING “BULLITT” | THE GRANDDADDY OF CAR CHASE SCENES « The Selvedge Yard

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  8. Soooo interesting!!! And I just perused the March 26, 1960 issue of the Saturday Evening Post with a great article and pics “The Spectacle of Sebring,” by Ken W. Purdy. I’m actually attending this years race and can’t wait. As a side note, is Brad Pitt channelling Steve? The hats, the bikes…jsut struck me with these photos.

  9. Have you read “Go Like Hell,” by AJ Baime? It’s about how Ford and Shelby set out to beat Ferrari in the mid-1960s, and is a great read for anyone intersted in sports car racing in that era.

  10. I was at this race. I was 9 years old. I have the official program from the race. I remember it like it was yesterday. I am 48 now. I was amazed to find these pictures on your site. Awesome. Brings back many memories. It was my first race. Although Revson drove most of the race it was amazing that McQueen drove at all with a broken foot.

  11. Pingback: STEVE McQUEEN | HOLLYWOOD’S OWN TRUE SON OF LIBERTY « The Selvedge Yard

  12. Pingback: JACKIE STEWART | THE FLYING SCOT’S OLD SCHOOL FORMULA ONE STYLE « The Selvedge Yard

  13. Superb! What an amazingly high standard of posts! Mcqueen was an icon in so many ways…..Somehow modern car racing seems to have lost the glamour of the late sixties. Amongst other things, it was the idea of most of them getting a beer together after racing these comparative death traps!! Loving your work, amigo. Thanks also for an immaculately reverential and insightful Jackie Stewart post. Big shout from Scotland!

  14. Pingback: JAMES “HUNT THE SHUNT” | THE 1970′s HIGH-FLYIN’ LOTHARIO OF FORMULA 1 « The Selvedge Yard

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