More Than a Holy Grail
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY March 9, 2005 -- There are a handful of races in the world that are known by both race fans and the public: Indianapolis, Monaco, Le Mans, Daytona, and Sebring. For 65 years, the 12 Hours of Sebring has defined American sports car tradition.
"Sebring is the one major North American race that Dyson Racing has not won overall," states Rob Dyson, owner of the two Thetford/Norcold AER-powered Lolas entered in this year's version of the Florida enduro. "In 20 years of professional sports car racing, we have won the L.A. Times Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Six Hours of Watkins Glen and the 500 miler at Elkhart Lake. We have come in second twice at Sebring, and both results were at the time the closest finishes in the race's history."
Dyson Racing will tackle the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring with drivers James Weaver, Andy Wallace, Butch Leizinger, Guy Smith and Chris Dyson. "I have always enjoyed this race," says Chris Dyson. "Taking the LMP675 class win here in 2003 is one of my better memories. The track is tough and the event is hard because you run it as a sprint race. That in itself defines endurance."
James Weaver, a 24 Hour Daytona winner, concurs, "It is harder than Le Mans or Daytona. At Le Mans, you have a long straight to catch your breath, plus there it a shorter night. At Sebring, it is dark much longer. The track is the same color as the sand at the edge of the track, and it is very difficult to pick things out."
And there is the traffic. Andy Wallace, two time winner at Sebring with Toyota, affirms, "You have to make the right decisions without failure in traffic. I use to play football. You cannot go into a tackle half-heartedly, or you will hurt yourself. You have to be decisive. There are over 65 cars in the race. Every single corner, every single lap, there is going to be traffic."
Butch Leitzinger has won Daytona three times, and says the two races are similar. "It is an endurance race: hot with lots of traffic. The amount of work you do here and the car set up, is just like a 24 hour race. In order to win, you need to have a car that is consistently quick no matter what the track conditions are."
Guy Smith, winner of the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans, will partner Chris Dyson for Sebring. "We had a good test here after Daytona." says Guy. "I was very impressed with the performance of the car and the Michelin tires. It is a fast, comfortable car, and that is what you need for endurance racing."
"It is more than a Holy Grail," sums up Rob Dyson. "It is a challenge and a mountain to climb that we haven't been able to look down from yet. We have done this race twelve times, and have come close to the summit. I hope this is the year our guys can enjoy that view."
The Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring will be televised live in its entirety on the Speed Channel on March 19.