From the motorsport archive: on this day in 1953


Rain during practice showed the concrete surface could get “phenomenally slippery”

From aircraft on the track to Geoff Duke’s crash, the World Sportscar Championship was off to a hot start

The fourth 12-hour endurance race at Florida’s Sebring airfield was momentous, being round one of the inaugural FIA World Sportscar Championship season. 

Most of the 81 cars entered were American or British. The fastest on pure pace were the three DB3s from Aston Martin and Cunningham’s sole Chrysler V8-engined C-4R and on formula the little DB HBR Panhards and Osca MT4s. 

Rain during practice showed the concrete surface could get “phenomenally slippery”, so we felt it was fortunate that race day proved to be fine and hot. 

Reg Parnell’s DB3 was first to move but stalled, leaving him dead last, and then to add injury to insult he was squeezed off, smashing into a marker barrel. 

Peter Collins was having better luck in his DB3, duelling with John Fitch in the C-4R, and after an hour Parnell had passed everyone to sit behind them in third. After three hours they came in. 

Collins gave the lead car to Geoff Duke – who promptly crashed while avoiding a backmarker who swerved in a braking zone. Both this and Parnell’s crash highlighted that blue flags should’ve been used. 

More worrying, mind, were the ice-cream men and aircraft crossing the track! Parnell’s reliever, George Abecassis, couldn’t catch the C4-R, Phil Walters winning by one lap. Neither car won the title, though, as Ferrari showed up from round two.

Source: Autocar

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