Sebring Urban Legends: Fact or Fiction?

You may have heard these stories before from Sebring veterans. As best as we can determine, here is the truth:

A child was born in Green Park during the Sebring 12 hours:
FICTION
We have no evidence this ever happened. Remember, we are talking about a child being bornin Green Park, not conceived.

Several drivers once started the 12 Hours without permission, sneaking on to the track during the first lap.
FACT
Six drivers of reserve entries in 1955, unhappy they were not allowed to start, decided to go on the track at the start, they did one of two laps and then got off the track.

A Ford GT involved in a fatal accident back in 1966 is buried at the track.
FACT
This is the most widely repeated Sebring "legend," and its basically true. The Ford GT driven by Bob McLean, in which he was killed during a fiery accident approaching the hairpin in 1966, was buried at nearby ranch property. There was very little left of the car, but it is not clear whether the entire remnants were buried. The remains of an Alfa Romeo also are buried near the circuit. We're not telling where.

Peanuts comic strip artist Charles Schulz painted the 1964 Sebring poster.
FICTION
The artist in 1964 was named Charles Shultz, but note the last name is spelled different than the Peanuts creator.

Even though there was no Sebring race in 1974, hundreds of fans showed up anyway.
FACT
The actual number of fans who showed up that year is disputed, somewhere between 500 and 5,000. We doubt it was more than a 1,000.

One of the victims of the Charles Manson "family" in 1969 was hair salon entrepreneur Jay Sebring, who named himself after the famous 12-hour race.
FACT
Sadly true. His real name was Thomas Kummer, but he chose Jay Sebring because he liked the name of the famous Florida sports car race.

Jim Morrison, the lead singer for the Doors, attended the Sebring 12 hours.
FACT
By all accounts, Morrison attended the 1962 and/or 1963 race. Remember, he was born in Melbourne Florida and attended St Petersburg Junior College and Florida State University.

Tom Kristensen waved to his friends at Turn 10 during a caution period while leading the 1999 Sebring 12 Hours.
MAYBE
Some fans swear he did. Tom will only say "I could have, I might have."

Dale Earnhardt had a "secret" test in a factory Corvette at Sebring shortly before he died.
FACT
Earnhardt and his son tested with the Corvette team in December 2000.

The famous B-17 named "Memphis Belle" landed at Hendricks Field during Word War II.
FACT
The Memphis Belle landed at Hendricks Field as part of a War Bond drive and moral booster for the crews training in Sebring.

A Led Zeppelin concert scheduled at Sebring Raceway was cancelled at the last minute.
FICTION
In 1975, Led Zeppelin, BTO and the J. Geils Band cancelled a concert appearance at Palm Beach International Raceway, not Sebring.

The race was once red-flagged because an alligator was on the track.
FICTION
Alligators have made their way on to the track at Sebring, but not during the race.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was seen at the Sebring 12 Hours?
FACT
Jobs attended the 1980 race (Apple sponsored a car that year).

The race was once yellow-flagged because the track was running out of fuel for the teams.
FACT
In 1983, a yellow flag was needed to allow a fuel truck to cross the track to bring more fuel. There were 83 cars in the race that year!

When preparing for the construction of the new pits in 1999, workers found live WWII era ammunition from Hendricks Field.
FICTION
Never happened. Nor did they find Jimmy Hoffa.

A spectator was able to sneak out onto the track in a street car and race during a supporting event at Sebring.
FACT
It happened in December 1959 prior to the US Grand Prix Formula One race.

Sebring promoter Alec Ulmann planned to move the Sebring 12 Hours to West Palm Beach?
FACT
In July of 1966, Ulmann officially announced the race was moving to the new Palm Beach International Raceway. Of course, that never did happen. He also attempted to move the race to Fort Lauderdale in 1958.

Roger Penske's Chevrolet Lola was stolen after the 1969 Sebring 12 Hours.
FACT
While towing the car back from Sebring, the team stopped near Ormond Beach, where it was stolen (most of it was eventually recovered).

A movie starring Robert Redford was filmed at Sebring Raceway.
FACT
Portions of the 1975 movie "The Great Waldo Pepper" were filmed at the Sebring Airport and Raceway.

The car that won the first ever race at Sebring in 1950 was actually a spectator's car.
FACT
Victor Sharpe of Tampa drove his Crosley Hot Shot to the Sam Collier 6-hour Memorial race in 1950. He was convinced to loan his car to drivers Ralph Deshon and Fritz Koster. They ended up winning the race, which was run on a handicap formula.

A spectator once arrived six months early to get in line for the race.
FICTION
The earliest arrival was by Patrick Taylor of Palm Bay, Florida, who arrived on December 26th 2003, nearly three months before the race.

A funeral hearse once did a lap around Sebring with a casket in the back.
FACT
After he passed away, the legendary "Big Stan" Durrance was given a lap around Sebring in a hearse, complete with the checkered flag being waved.

Walter Cronkite drove in the 12 Hours of Sebring and witnessed a fatal accident on his very first lap.
FACT
Cronkite competed in the 1959 Sebring 12 Hours driving a Lancia, and on his first practice lap he witnessed Edwin Lawrence's fatal accident at the Hairpin. Lawrence was also taking his first ever lap at Sebring, and lost control of his Maserati at the Hairpin. His family still attends the race every year.

Drivers would actually get lost at night on the old 5.2-mile circuit, some recording laps over 10 minutes trying to find the circuit.
FACT
The old runway portions of the circuit were nearly impossible to negotiate at night, and many cars wandered aimlessly trying to orient themselves back on the proper line.

The first African-American driver to compete at Sebring wrecked his race car the night before the race driving on a local road and was unable to start.
FACT
Frank Mabry had entered an Austin-Healey Sprite in 1962 and was scheduled to start, but wrecked his car the night before. Earlier in the week, the NAACP had threatened to protest the event unless he was allowed to compete, as race officials had originally assigned him as a "reserve" entry.

The Pace Car for the 1985 Sebring 12 Hours was stolen right before the race.
FICTION
Actually, it was stolen right after the race, but recovered a few hours later.

During the first Sebring race, the Governor of Florida was given a lap of the circuit by a race official while the race was in progress.
FACT
Gov. Fuller Warren took a tour of the circuit during the race!

The husband of the infamous Marge Schott, former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, nearly won the 12 Hours of Sebring.
FACT
Charles Schott finished second in the first 12 Hours in 1952, driving a Jaguar. He died of a heart attack in 1968 and Marge inherited his car dealerships.

A serial killer competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Fact
Christopher Wilder drove in the 1983 Sebring 12 Hours. A few months later he was fleeing from police in a nationwide manhunt after he was connected to the killings of several young women. He killed himself when he was caught near the Canadian border.

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