Sebring International Raceway

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Sebring International Raceway
Sebring logo.png
Sebring satellite.png
LocationHighlands County, east of
Sebring, Florida, U.S.
Time zoneUTC-5 (UTC-4 DST)
Capacityopen seating without capacity limitation
OwnerNASCAR via IMSA Holdings, LLC[1]
OperatorSebring International Raceway, LLC
Opened1950
Major eventsIMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
12 Hours of Sebring
FIA World Endurance Championship
1000 Miles of Sebring
GP Road Course (6th variation) (1999–present)
SurfaceAsphalt/Concrete
Length3.74 mi (6.02 km)
Turns17
Race lap record1:41.800 (#7, Toyota Gazoo Racing, 2019, LMP1)
Club Road Course
Length1.703 mi (2.74 km)
5th variation (1991–1998)
Length3.722 mi (5.99 km)
Turns18
Race lap record1:49.425 (Stefan Johansson, Yannick Dalmas, Ferrari, 1997, LMP1)
4th variation (1987–1990)
Length4.109 mi (6.612 km)
Turns17
Race lap record1:55.767 (Derek Daly, Nissan, 1990, IMSA)
3rd variation (1983–1986)
Length4.86 mi (7.821 km)
Turns17
Race lap record2:11.416 (Whitney Ganz, Hawk-March, 1986, IMSA)
2nd variation (1967–1982)
Length5.195 mi (8.36 km)
Turns17
Race lap record2:27.067 (Bobby Rahal, March, 1982, IMSA)
1st variation (1952–1966)
Length5.192 mi (8.356 km)
Turns17
Race lap record2:54.6 (Dan Gurney, Ford, 1966, WSC)
Original circuit (1950–1951)
Length3.3 mi (5.31 km)
Turns12
Websitewww.sebringraceway.com

Sebring International Raceway is a road course auto racing facility in the southeastern United States, located near Sebring, Florida.

Sebring (pronounced "sea-bring") Raceway is one of the oldest continuously operating race tracks in the U.S., its first race being run in 1950. Sebring is one of the classic race tracks in North American sports car racing,[citation needed] and plays host to the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The raceway occupies a portion of Sebring Regional Airport, an active airport for private and commercial traffic that was originally built as Hendricks Army Airfield, a World War II training base for the U.S. Army Air Forces.

History[edit]

Sebring Raceway occupies the site of Hendricks Army Airfield, a training base for B-17 pilots in operation from 1941 to 1946. After the war, Russian-American aeronautical engineer Alec Ulmann[2] was seeking sites for converting military aircraft to civilian use when he discovered potential in Hendricks' runways and service roads to stage a sports car endurance race similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race Ulmann was inspired to somewhat re-create in the United States. Sebring's first race was held on New Year's Eve of 1950, attracting thirty race cars from across North America.[3] The Sam Collier 6 Hour Memorial race was won by Frits Koster and Ralph Deshon in a Crosley Hot Shot that had been driven to the track by Victor Sharpe.

The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952, shortly growing into a major international race. In 1959, the track hosted the U.S.' first Formula One race (the successor to historic European Grand Prix motor racing), held as that year's installment of the historic United States Grand Prix competition. However poor attendance and high costs relocated the next U.S. Grand Prix to Riverside International Raceway in southern California.[4]

Press box

For much of Sebring's history, the track followed a 5.2-mile (8.4 km) layout. After a disastrous 1966 12 Hours with five fatalities, the track was widened and lengthened 50 yards (46 m) for 1967 with the removal of the Webster Turn between the hairpin and the top of the track and replacement with the faster Green Park Chicane. This was closer to the hairpin and allowed a flat-out run through a very fast corner to the top of the track and the runway. Another dangerous section was the Warehouse straight, where the organizers installed a left-right turn to move the track away from the warehouses and buildings after a crash where during that 1966 12 Hours a privately-entered Porsche went into one of the warehouses (this area was off-limits to non-track personnel) and into a crowd, killing four spectators.

The circuit was changed and shortened in 1983 to allow simultaneous use of the track and one of the runways, and major changes in 1987 allowed use of another runway. Further changes in 1991 accommodated expansion of the airport's facilities, allowing the entire track to be used without interfering with normal airport operations and bringing it close to its current configuration. The hairpin was removed in 1997 due to a lack of run-off, and replaced with what became known as the "safety pin". Gendebien Bend was also re-profiled to slow the cars' entry to the Ullman straight.[5]

Final Hours of Sebring 2011

The track is currently owned by IMSA Holdings, LLC through its subsidiary Sebring International Raceway, LLC via its purchase of the Panoz MSG in September 2012.[6] It is currently leased by the Sebring International Raceway, LLC, which acquired the facility from Andy Evans in 1997.[7]

The track is often recognized for its famous, high-speed "Turn 17",[citation needed] a long, bumpy, fast right hander that can make or break a car's speed down the front straight. The corner can fit up to 3 cars wide.

Skip Barber Racing School held numerous programs at the facility, including a scholarship opportunity for young racers.

The World Endurance Championship runs a round called the 1000 Miles of Sebring, run concurrently with the famed 12 Hours. This race was first run in 2019, with Toyota Gazoo Racing winning overall.

Track configuration[edit]

Sportscars at Sunset Bend at Sebring International Raceway during 2018 12 Hours of Sebring.
Track map.

Sebring International Raceway consist of three tracks: the Full Circuit, the Short Circuit, and the Club Circuit. The course of the track itself is 3.74 miles (6.02 km) long. It is a seventeen-turn road course with long straights, several high-speed corners, and very technical slower corners. Many of the turns and points along the track are named for the early teams and drivers. Due to Florida's flat nature there is very little elevation change around the track and little camber on the surface, providing a challenging track for drivers, especially when it rains.

The track layout from 1952 to 1966 (1st variation). Length: 5.38 mi (8.356 km) Lap record: Dan Gurney, Ford GT40, 2:54.6, 1966

Sebring is renowned for its rough, bumpy and changing surfaces. The course still runs on old sections of World War II-era landing fields that were constructed of concrete sections with large seams. The transitions between sections are quite rough and often, sparks fly from the undercarriages of the cars as they traverse them. Much of the track has intentionally been left with its original concrete runway surface. The 12 Hours of Sebring is renowned as a race that is even harder on machinery and drivers than Le Mans, and is seen as an ideal preparation run for the famed French race.

The track surface has 3.04 miles (4.89 km) of asphalt and 0.7 miles (1.1 km) of concrete. Mario Andretti, a 3-time 12 Hours winner, said that one of the hardest parts about the original Sebring track was "finding the track to begin with." There had been many accounts of drivers retiring due to accidents at night, quite simply because they got lost on the runway sections and couldn't find the track again. Some drivers got lost even during the day, mostly because the track was poorly marked down with white lines and cones.[8]

Events[edit]

Sebring is most notable for hosting the 12 Hours of Sebring, sanctioned by the FIA and IMSA, as part of many major endurance racing series, including the World Sportscar Championship, Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, ALMS, and now, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This race is the second of four races in the Michelin Endurance Cup.

The track also hosts the Legends of Motorsport and Historic Sportscar Racing series, and is the winter home of the Skip Barber Racing School. Many IndyCar, sports prototype, and Grand Touring teams use Sebring for winter testing due to the warm climate.

Audi R15 at Sebring 2011

Sebring in pop culture[edit]

Sebring Raceway is featured in the video games Pitstop II, iRacing,[9] The Crew, Forza Motorsport 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Forza Motorsport 4,[10] Forza Motorsport 5,[11] Forza Motorsport 6,[12] Forza Motorsport 7, Total Immersion Racing[13] and Sports Car GT.[14] There are also end-user created versions for GTR2, GTR Evolution, GT Legends, rFactor, [15] rFactor 2,[16] Grand Prix Legends and NASCAR Racing 2003 Season. In board gaming, Sebring was also featured in the first expansion for the Formula D board game by Asmodee games. People have also recreated this track using the new course maker in Gran Turismo 6.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NASCAR Makes Big Purchase and Plans Merger: A Fan's Reaction". Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "Alec Ulmann Is Dead at 82; Pioneer in Sports Car Racing". The New York Times. April 26, 1986. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "Forgotten History: The First Sebring Race 12/31/1950". Archived from the original on October 11, 2004. Retrieved November 8, 2004.
  4. ^ "History of Formula 1 - The United States Grand Prix (USGP)". ddavid.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  5. ^ 12 Hours of Sebring Archived March 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "NASCAR Makes Big Purchase and Plans Merger: A Fan's Reaction". Archived from the original on March 22, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  7. ^ "The TACH Report: USRRC Announces '98 Sched, Panoz Buys Sebring From Andy Evans, GM Has New Longer Range Battery For EVs". theautochannel.com. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  8. ^ About Sebring Raceway Archived March 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Sebring International Raceway - iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations". iracing.com. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  10. ^ "Forza Motorsport 4 - Tracks - Sebring International Raceway". Forza. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Forza Motorsport 5 - Tracks - Sebring International Raceway". forzamotorsport.net. Archived from the original on October 21, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Forza Motorsport 6 - Tracks - Sebring International Raceway". forzamotorsport.net. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  13. ^ Strohm, Axel (17 May 2006). "Total Immersion Racing update". GameSpot. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Sports Car GT". Archived from the original on September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  15. ^ "Sebring". Archived from the original on March 19, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  16. ^ "Sebring V2.02 by Virtua_LM". www.internationalsimracing.com. Archived from the original on March 19, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°27′18″N 81°21′00″W / 27.455°N 81.35°W / 27.455; -81.35