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Jack Brabham will have to rely on signals relayed to him from his team manager. How he drives will depend upon where Moss and I are in the race. If we are behind, he can well afford to slack off. He also may rely on either his teammate Masten Gregory, who, with 10 Grand Prix points, has nothing to lose so far as the championship is concerned, or on New Zealander Bruce McLaren if Gregory has not fully recovered from earlier injuries. The Cooper factory, not feeling favorably disposed toward Moss, who will drive almost any make, could start Gregory with a half-filled fuel tank and/ or a more powerful but perhaps unreliable engine. With less weight to carry, Gregory might drive faster than he need to in order to push Moss and me into going too fast and running the risk of destroying our machinery. He also might be sent in to steal the fastest lap—and a very valuable point—from Brabham's two leading contenders.
If Moss is winning the race, Brabham will have to put his foot down to finish in second position and the team manager will put out a signal to Gregory to do the fastest lap at Moss's expense. Should I be winning the race, Brabham will again have to push hard to get into third place, and do the fastest lap, or to finish second. If Moss and I retire, Brabham can saunter home, or even retire himself, without losing his lead in the championship point standings.
Moss will endeavor to lead from start to finish and try to shake Gregory off from the drop of the flag. I shall also try to win the race, but how I shall set about it will depend on the data obtained in the practice sessions. If tire wear is bad, I shall have to go flat out from start to finish to make up for lost time during tire changes. If I think I can get through nonstop and know that my rivals must change tires, I can afford to follow at a discreet distance until well into the race. If Masten Gregory sets the pace I shall have to judge whether he can go through to the finish at the same speed or whether he is just bait. He could afford to stop at half distance and wait in the pits until Moss or I did the fastest lap. He could then take the fast lap away from us with a high-speed burst on Brabham's behalf, with tire conditions and pressures, fuel level and engine tune exactly right for fast laps.
Signor Romulo Tavoni, the Ferrari team manager, may ask my teammates to try to take the lap record away from my rivals. They will also endeavor to stay in front of Brabham and Moss to push them down the points' table, but it will all be to no avail if I am not the first to see the checkered flag.
Although I have outlined the possible tactics of the three contenders, the race may well be won by other than these three. The resulting change in the possible finishing positions of Brabham, Moss and myself will give the team managers something of a headache.
At an event on which so much depends, it is as well to remember some basic theories and facts about race driving. It does not matter how fast one goes over a few laps of the circuit. If the car does not cross the finish line the whole object of the race is lost, and unnecessary pressing of the car can often result in a certainty becoming a failure. "Win the race at the lowest possible speed" is a good maxim, and an even more important one is "Never substitute recklessness for ability." If a driver's natural ability, plus the performance of his car, are not sufficient to win a certain race he should accept this fact. There is always another day, another race.
Sebring is an airfield and road circuit of 5.2 miles and varies in width from 60 feet on the runways section to 24 feet on the private and perimeter roads which complete the course. The surface consists of concrete, asphalt and in parts macadam, but it is rough in a number of places and abrasive. The perimeter roads are rather narrow in contrast to the wide-open spaces of the airfield runways, the latter being delineated by barrels every 15 yards or so, and this permits cars to dodge between the barrels to make a wider sweep of certain corners when attempting really quick lap times. Of the 12 corners in the 5.2 miles, three are very slow (25 to 35 mph) and the remainder vary between medium speed (70 to 90 mph) and fast (100 mph upwards). As with all airfield circuits, Sebring is flat and featureless and does not compare with the classic circuits to be found on the continent of Europe. These are true road-racing courses, consisting of everyday roads. Most of the English circuits are basically like Sebring's. We are not permitted to close public roads for racing.
The real importance of Sebring is, however, the fact that the organizers are the first in America to tackle the very difficult task of putting on a full Grand Prix event. Not satisfied with this, they took on the added responsibility of requesting that it should count for the world championship, and they have done much to provide a common meeting ground for American and European drivers. Grand Prix driving could use the spectator boost that would come with greater American interest in the European variety of road racing. The midget and Indianapolis drivers may like what they see at Sebring.
It has been rumored in the press that my future in racing depends upon the outcome of Sebring. If I win the championship, perhaps I am expected to retire? The advent of family responsibilities (my wife and I have a new daughter) has probably led to this line of thought. I am a dentist and do not have to motor-race for my livelihood. Every year, consequently, I find myself weighing the pros and cons of continuing racing. No doubt I shall do so again.
But much else than consideration of my own future depends upon Sebring. Its success or failure will provide a pointer as to the future of American road racing and the possibility of eventual integration of American and European formulas to form a common basis for competition. Who will win the first Grand Prix of the U.S.? Only one thing is certain. The winner will truly have earned his victory.