During this period two of the four factory Porsches eliminated themselves—one when Lodovico Scarfiotti overrevved his engine to the breaking point. The other threw a valve right through the crankcase. That made things even enough for Roger Penske to think his two Camaros, which were only supposed to be going for a win in their class—the over-two-liter Trans-American division—might have a chance against the other Porsches. But the Porsches did not falter, and Penske settled for third and fourth places overall, 16 and 20 laps behind the Siffert-Herrmann car.
The most serious Porsche challenge came from a pair of GT-40 Fords entered by John Wyer of England, who is not unknown in Dearborn. Although the Fords were competing in the "sports" class like the Lolas, the only thing Wyer was really concerned with was beating the Porsches. "Nobody cares, really, whether you win your class or not," he said in very English English. "The only thing anybody cares about is overall."
The trouble was, the drivers of his No. 1 car, Jackie Ickx of Belgium and Brian Redman of England, had never seen Sebring before last week, and the 5.2-mile course, a succession of long straights and tight, sharp turns, is something no driver, however talented, can learn in a week. During practice, Ickx logged 25 laps, Redman but 12. After just 45 minutes of the actual race, Redman busted his clutch.
At the U-turn at the end of the back straight, Redman went in too deep and spun out. Then in the excitement he engaged the clutch before the car was moving forward.
"It was gone like that," Redman said. "Poof."
The other GT-40, driven by Britain's David Hobbs and Australia's Fred Hawkins, challenged until just after 6 p.m., the eight-hour mark, retiring with suspension damage. Hawkins, however, most definitely had not retired. Half an hour later, flailing a can of beer and employing the language's best-known all-purpose verb, adjective and noun, Hawkins precipitated the most interesting discussion of the race.
Seems that three hours before, he had bounced off a little Porsche 911 (not one of the prototypes) that he found broadside in the Esses, a very quick left-right-left chicane about one-third of the way through the course. "The Porsche didn't cause the accident," Hawkins bellowed. "Those bloody birds did."
That was a reference to a girl team in an American Motors Javelin. "They drove like they were in a bloody funeral procession," said Hawkins. "One girl was ahead of the Porsche and motioned him past, then changed her mind—just like a bloody woman—and kept going. The Porsche hit her and spun and blocked the bloody track. I got off the road into the grass but I still couldn't miss the Porsche. Those bloody birds shouldn't be in the race. A woman's place is in the bedroom or the kitchen, and if she can't cook, send her back to the bedroom."
Half an hour after that, the girl involved, a striking blonde from Holland named Liane Engeman, told her version—dust, dirt and burned rubber doing very little to detract from her attractive features. "The Porsche was going too fast," she murmured. "It simply couldn't make the turn. I don't know what Hawkins was doing except making excuses for a mistake. This make me very mad."
"What color eyes do you have?" somebody asked.