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Sebring Triumph 1959 Independent Entry

Here are some photos taken at Sebring at the 12-hour race in 1959. I worked for a TR dealer, Annapolis Motors in the Washington DC area from '57 through '64.

In the early part of 1959 my boss and the owner of a suburban area TR dealership, called United Motors, agreed to jointly enter a car in the '59 race. The car, a 1958 TR3A was rebuilt from one that had been damaged on board ship on its way to the US. The engine came from an earlier car in which the prior E production champion Harold Hurtley, had been killed in a race at Lime Rock late in 1958. It was built at RC Automotive, Alexandria Va., an engine modification machine shop where coincidentally, I had worked prior to Annapolis Motors.

Originally they had hoped for some serious backing from the factory but, in the end, with the exception of about 4 sets of wheels and tires, we were pretty much on our own. (These were flown in to Tampa the day before the race}

The original drivers were to be Charlie Kolb and Gaston Andre, both of whom were E modified drivers at the time but had previously driven Triumphs. The pit crew consisted of the service manager of United, one Archie Archibald, myself and a couple of mechanics from each dealership. In addition we had the usual group of suspects who helped out in many different ways in order to get the free trip to the races.

Here are some photos that I have from this race and will try to tell you something about each one. As all this occurred some 40+ years ago I can't guarantee complete accuracy but I'll do my best.

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This is what a real, live, amateur pit crew looked like in the ‘50’s. The folks involved are, from L to R Henry Knuppel, part time mechanic and full time CIA agent. (yeah, really!) Next is Mac Ross, a damned good mechanic and ex track roadster, midget and sprint car driver (also my brother). The third fellow is Bob Garretson a TR mechanic who worked for me. Finally the last fellow is Bob Hunt a real live physicist who came along for the ride. Both Mac and Bob are no longer with us.

 

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These are some of United motors mechanics working on the car prior to the race. The red roadster in the background is mine. We drove it to Fla. and back. How about the Porsche and the Studebaker in the background?

 

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This is a view of the MG pit next to ours. The damned little rascals were really fast. The pits had a kind of viewing stand on top of them where we could watch the race when we weren't busy and this picture was taken from there. Note the water standing in the pits. I believe this was taken during practice.

 

smTR3Ross1.jpg (5656 bytes)
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This is a drivers change late in the afternoon. Kolb has just entered the car and the co-driver, having helped with the belts, is exiting the car. The fellow you can just see in the cowboy hat leaning in the car is me. (Driver pep talk or something) Note the water still standing in the pit it had just stopped raining. If I remember correctly it rained every afternoon at Sebring. The lights on the door were controlled by the driver and each one meant something, (like I need fuel or have engine problem, etc.)

About 8 pm the front rocker arm, stand, stud broke and the driver brought it in. We stole the stud from my car and replaced it but we lost a lot of time. The drivers were already weary of being passed by assorted Ferraris, Maseratis, etc. so I think they were kind of glad when it was over.

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Here is a picture of Rosebud, my second (or is it third?) childhood hobby. She is a 1960 TR3A rebuilt as a late 50’s – early 60’s SCCA racer.

Doug Ross
Submitted 3/2001