Narrowing down the list of Sebring’s greatest drivers to a top 12 is virtually impossible. A total of 3,706 drivers have competed in Sebring’s 12-hour classic. Only 120 have won overall.
So many legends have raced at Sebring: Fangio, Moss, Hill, Hobert, Ickx, Gurney, Andretti, Donohue, Foyt… the list goes on and on.
Remember that we are only considering a driver’s Sebring results for this prestigious list. Obviously, drivers with more starts at Sebring have an advantage.
Some drivers, however, had remarkable success at Sebring despite only limited starts.
The legendary Juan Manuel Fangio entered the race only three times, but led in all three times and earned two victories. Olivier Gendebien started only six times, but won three straight years and finished second.
And how about Bruce McLaren, who won the 12 hours, the Sebring F1 race and a Sebring GT supporting race. Sadly, he is one of many drivers who had their careers cut short.
Some drivers fall into the Sebring “bad luck” category. Derek Bell, David Brabham and James Weaver have a combined 16 overall podium finishes, but no wins.
Stirling Moss won overall once, but two other times he was disqualified while leading (for somewhat minor and questionable infractions). Stefan Johansson has two overall wins, but with a little luck his three other podium finishes could have been wins.
Many drivers seldom ran for overall honors during their Sebring carerrs, but instead toiled in carious classes. They too deserve consideration.
Here’s the Top 12:
Tom Kristensen – A record six overall wins, plus a class win, make TK our pick for number one. In addition, he set the fastest race lap four times, more than anyone in Sebring history. Of course, we must give props to his many Audi co-drivers.
Mario Andretti – Mario won Sebring three times and finished second once. His final hour heroics in the 1970 race will always be part of Sebring lore.
Al Holbert – Two wins and six podium finishes make Al Holbert deserving of this list.
Andy Wallace – A record ten overall Sebring podium finishes, including two wins.
Hans Stuck – Three overall wins and two class wins. He also remembered for his amazing drive in the rain back in 1993.
Hurley Haywood – A record 28 Sebring starts, including two overall wins.
Phil Hill – Three overall wins and a second place finish at Sebring.
Rinaldo Capello – Second only to Tom Kristensen with five overall wins.
Jim Downing – Three class wins and an amazing 10 class podiums, many driving cars he built himself.
Johnny O’Connell – Sebring’s all-time winner (class wins + overall wins) with eight class victories and an overall win, plus a record 12 class podiums – that is a lot of trophies!
David Brabham – Second place overall a frustrating three times, but his three class wins and nine combined podium finishes make him deserving of this list.
For the number 12 slot, we have these “Honorable Mentions”: Derek Bell, Allan McNish, Brian Redman, Juan Manuel Fangio, John Paul, Jr., Frank Biela, Olivier Gendebien, Geoff Brabham, Emanuele Pirro, Lucas Luhr, Stefan Johansson, Oliver Gavin, Ron Fellows, Olivier Beretta, Jacky Ickx, Hans Herrmann, Bob Wollek, Phil Walters, John Morton, Bruce McLaren, J.J. Lehto.
Of course, there are many names not mentioned that are certainly deserving. And many new names are on the horizon…