12 Hours of Sebring
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
|American Le Mans Series|
|Venue||Sebring International Raceway|
|Corporate sponsor||Mobil 1|
|First ALMS race||1999|
|Most wins (driver)||Tom Kristensen (6)|
|Most wins (team)||Scuderia Ferrari/SpA Ferrari (8)|
|Most wins (manufacturer)||Porsche (17)|
The 12 Hours of Sebring is an annual motorsport endurance race for sports cars held at Sebring International Raceway, on the site of the former Hendricks Army Airfield World War II air base in Sebring, Florida. The event is perennially the opening round of the American Le Mans Series and in the past has been a round of the now defunct World Sportscar Championship and IMSA GT Championship. In 2012, the race was the opening event of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The race is also a leg of the informal Triple Crown of endurance racing, which links the three largest sports car races together in a rough equivalent of Golf or Tennis' Grand Slam with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona forming the other legs.
The track opened in 1950 on an airfield and is a road racing course styled after those used in European Grand Prix motor racing. The first race was a six-hour race on New Year's Eve 1950, with the next race held 14 months later as the first 12 Hours of Sebring. The race is now considered one of the premier endurance races in the United States and is famous for its "once around the clock" action, starting during the day and finishing at night. From 1953 to 1972 the 12 Hour was a round of the FIA’s premier sports car series which was contested under various names including the World Sportscar Championship and the International Championship for Makes.
In its early years, the Sebring circuit was somewhat of a makeshift effort; combining airport runways and narrow 2-lane service roads. The 1966 event was a turning point in Sebring history, as the facilities and the safety of the circuit were heavily criticized, as 5 people were killed during the race, which was more people killed in the race's 16 year history. In those days, safety wasn't really taken into account and there were no safety measures to protect the spectators, electric poles, houses and other things from the race. 33-year old Canadian Bob McLean crashed heavily while approaching the Hairpin; his Ford GT40 Mk.I rolled several times, struck a utility pole and then exploded, landing in a ditch. McLean perished in the flames, the ill-equipped track marshals had no chance to save him. And in another incident Mario Andretti in his Ferrari 365 tangled with Don Wester's Porsche 906 on the Warehouse Straight near the Webster Turns, killing 4 spectators and then crashing into a warehouse next to the track. The facilities were upgraded and the circuit layout was changed, including eliminating the Webster Turns and creating the Green Park Chicane further down the track to move the straight further away from the airport warehouses. The circuit was made safer and there were no fatalities until 1980; safety issues never plagued the circuit or the event ever again.
The race has a rich history, as legendary drivers such as Mario Andretti, Briggs Cunningham, Juan Manuel Fangio, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Jacky Ickx, Geoff Brabham, Stirling Moss, John Morton, Steve Millen and Lake Underwood, and manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, MG, Toyota, Jaguar, Cunningham, Audi and Ford have all been victorious.
It is known as an excellent preparation for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the track's extremely bumpy surface, combined with south-central Florida's perennial hot weather, is a true test of a car's reliability. In recent years, six overall victories have been achieved by the Audi R8, one less than record seven wins of the Porsche 935.
The event 
Fans are allowed to camp inside the green of the race track, starting several days before the actual race. Both general admission and, for a fee, reserved camping exists. RVs and cars are allowed into the track. Fans that show up during the week (and in some cases months before the actual race) can watch the many practice and qualification races, as well as a vintage race. There are several classes of tickets, ranging anywhere from full-access to simply the (usually Saturday) actual race. The tickets are numbered, and there are designated numbered tickets needed to access pit areas, press and spectator boxes, and certain parts of the track. Attendance is usually over 100,000 spectators.
Within the track is a Midway, containing everything from souvenirs and official merchandise, to hot coffee and cold beer. Attractions are also featured in the midway and differ from year to year; In recent years Spring Break attractions have been set up to draw in college students on break during the week of the race. Radio promotions for the race are not uncommon to hear in Florida weeks before the race, advertising to both race fans and spring breakers.
Race results 
The 1966 race had Dan Gurney leading at the last lap, when his engine of his Shelby American Ford Mk II seized near the end. Gurney pushed his car over the finish line, beat only by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. However, his actions were ultimately determined to be against the rules and he did not receive credit for his finish.
In 2005, the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R and Aston Martin DBR9 made their race debut in the hotly contested GT1 class, with Aston Martin winning its class for the first time in 49 years at Sebring ahead of the two Corvettes. Corvette had dominated the class the past three years with its previous generation C5R.
The all-new Audi R10 TDI won the 2006 edition of the race, the car's first ever run in competition. The victory set the stage for an even more momentous win by the R10 in its next race, the Le Mans 24 Hours later in the year. The much-hyped Porsche RS Spyder campaigned by Penske Racing dropped to take 2nd place in its LMP2 class, behind the Intersport Lola car. The GT1 Corvette C6R team got their revenge against the Aston Martin, although the second Corvette came within 1/3 of a second of the podium in the closing laps of the race.
2007 saw Audi again winning in the R10 TDI despite requiring more frequent refueling due to changes in American Le Mans series rules intended to even the field between gasoline and diesel powered engines. In addition to an overall win, Audi also set a track record in 2007 with Marco Werner behind the wheel in qualifying.
|1||Porsche||18||1960, 1968, 1971, 1973, 76–88, 2008|
|2||Ferrari||12||1956, 58-64, 1970, 1972, 1995, 97-98|
|3||Audi||11||00–07, 2009, 12-13|
|Riley & Scott||1996|
|1||Tom Kristensen||6||99-00, 05-06, 2009, 2012|
|2||Rinaldo Capello||5||01-02, 2006, 2009, 2012|
|3||Frank Biela||4||2000, 03-04, 07|
|Allan McNish||2004, 2006, 2009, 2012|
|5||Mario Andretti||3||1967, 1970, 1972|
|Hans-Joachim Stuck||1975, 1986, 1988|
Overall Winners 
- ^A The car was in fact, a Porsche 935 K3 that has been modified with a single plug cylinder head and a front nose to resemble a Porsche 934 to comply to IMSA GTO specification.
- ^B These races were stopped for a period of time due to heavy rain and/or accidents. The race clock was not stopped for these periods and counted towards the 12 Hours.
- ^C Race record for most distance covered.
- ^D Technically the race "winner" in 1950 was the Crosley Hot Shot of Fritz Koster / Ralph Deshon, entered by Victor Sharpe Jr. of Tampa. While the Wacker / Burrell Allard did cover more distance, the race was run under the "Index of Performance" handicapping rules and the Crosley, with a much smaller engine than the Cadillac-powered Allard, is listed in the Official Sebring Record Book as the winner.
- McCluggage, Denise (February 20, 2012). "Racing Through History". Autoweek 62 (4): 66–67.
- Watkins, Gary (March 19, 2012). "Fab Five". Autoweek 62 (6): 77. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- Sam Collier Memorial Sebring Grand Prix of Endurance Six Hours, www.racingsportscars.com Retrieved on 31 July 2012
- Starkey, John. 930 to 935: The Turbo Porsches. Renwick & Starkey Ltd. ISBN 0-9665094-1-2.