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While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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How a Tiny Crosley Hotshot Beat Ferrari and Jaguar To Win the First Sebring Race

Posted January 11, 2022 5:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Crosley Hotshot

Briggs Cunningham prepared his stable of entries. Luigi Chinetti and Alfredo Momo looked over the Ferrari they would drive. John Fitch, Jim Kimberly, Fred Wacker, Phil Walters and Bill Spear, they all circulated through the pits as exhaust notes from Jaguars, Astons and MGs rapped, roared and rumbled. The former Hendricks Army Airfield buzzed with activity as American sports car racing's most well-known names of the time gathered for the first race of what was billed as America's counterpart to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, each driver and car owner as confident as the rest of their abilities to win the race.

Even the trio gathered around a 1949 Crosley Hotshot way down at the back of the 28-car field, a car that had only been entered in the race a day before and that had an advantage the far more powerful cars ahead of it didn't: math.

Alec Ulmann had taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans many times before World War II and after immigrating to the U.S. looked for a place to replicate the famed race. Though its surface was bumpy and better suited to the B-17 bombers that flew out of the base during the war, Ulmann decided to focus his efforts on the runways and access roads of what had become Sebring's municipal airport. His initial effort, slated for December 31, 1950, didn't have the length of Circuit de la Sarthe (3.5 miles versus 8.4) or the duration (six hours versus 24) but it would have a Le Mans-style running start, the blessing of the SCCA, the aforementioned drivers and owners, and an index of performance.

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Re: How a Tiny Crosley Hotshot Beat Ferrari and Jaguar To Win the First Sebring Race

01/11/2022 11:17 PM

Never met any of the guys mentioned in the first paragraph, but I did get to drive a John Fitch Corvair once. He modified Corvairs like Shelby modified the Mustangs. I have to admit that the 4-speed shifter on the Corvair sucked, but the handling was unbelievable for a '60s era car. Very fun car to drive!

My dad worked for Fred Wacker for a number of years. Fred was the president of Ammco Tools, the brake & front end equipment company.

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