From Runways to Raceway - Sebring Tradition Spans 64 years
Sebring, FL -- A harbinger of spring, Sebring annually ushers in the international sports car racing season with the running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Nestled among the orange groves and cattle ranches of central Florida, Sebring may seem an unlikely place for America's premier sports car endurance race. Second only to Le Mans in International stature, Sebring attracts the world's finest sports car teams on the third Saturday of every March to battle on the famous 3.7 mile concrete and asphalt circuit.
Sebring's road course originated from a WWII B-17 training base known as Hendricks Field, constructed in 1941. While few remnants of the air base remain, the track still utilizes portions of the old Army Air Force airfield runways.
In 1944, the legendary Memphis Belle B-17 landed at Hendricks Field on a publicity tour. Less than ten years later, Ferraris, Jaguars and Maseratis had replaced the Flying Fortresses on the expansive concrete runways.
Sports car enthusiast and aviation businessman Alec Ulmann promoted the first sports car race at Sebring in 1950, and established the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952.
"The evolution of Sebring raceway from a military airbase to the biggest sports car race in North America is a remarkable story," stated Sebring President and GM Tres Stephenson. "There has been so much history made here; every year adds a new chapter."
Only once over the past 54 years Sebring's 12-hour classic not been held. That was in 1974, when the energy crisis resulted in cancellation of the event. Several hundred spectators showed up anyway, proving just how powerful the Sebring tradition had become.
Over the past five decades, 3,251 cars have competed at Sebring, driven by over 2,750 different drivers from 29 different countries. Former winners at Sebring include Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, Al Holbert, A.J. Foyt, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Bobby Rahal and Stirling Moss.
Gates open at Sebring on Wednesday, March 16, and remain open 24 hours a day through Saturday. Sebring International Raceway offers a wide variety of camping and viewing options. For detailed ticket information visit sebringraceway.com or call toll-free 800-626-7223.