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Sebring International Raceway
Specs:
Circuit direction:
Clockwise
Circuit length:
5.970 km
Number of turns:
15

Sebring Raceway is a mecca for sportscar fans the world over, having held its famous 12 Hour race since 1952. Built on the runways and connecting roads of a former US Army Air Base, what was once a temporary affair is now a permanent facility used year-round for testing and club racing.

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Sebring

Airbase origins

The airbase on which it stands was built at the height of World War Two, when the city of Sebring donated land for a new air training school. In June 1941, construction crews moved in and began creating the runways and barracks, with a networks of buildings, roads and sewerage systems that effectively made it a small self-contained city.

Shortly before completion, the orders came through that the base was to be expanded to become the first Combat Crew Training School in the United States for heavy bombers, requiring much more robust and enlarged runways. To withstand the pounding of the giant B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, engineers poured multiple slabs of concrete to form the runways, which cris-crossed the site in four directions. Named Hendricks Field in honour of a fallen flight instructor, the base spent the rest of the war training hundreds of pilots for B-17, B-24 and later, B-29 Superfortress flight crews.

History within the 24H SERIES

It was in this guise that Sebring first came to the attention of the racing community. One day in 1949, sportscar racers Sam Collier and Bob Gegen were flying overhead when they spotted the airfield below and decided to take a closer look. On landing, they asked to see the person in charge. and asked if it would be possible to hold a race on the grounds there. Allen Altvader, who ran the air terminal, said it would be a matter for the city council to decide but took them on a tour of the facility.

The first course was very primitive – essentially marked out with hay bales and featuring a pit area that was little more than lashed together trestle tables – but the event had proved enough of a success to be repeated 14 months later in what would become its now traditional early season date.

In its more familiar guise as a 12 hour endurance race, the revised course used a different combination of the former army base's roads alongside the North/South and East/West runways. This was to become the classic Sebring layout and was a true test of endurance. The bumpy concrete sections took their tolls on the cars, while the night time running on the maze of roads often played tricks on the drivers – many would become disoriented and lose time navigating their way back onto the proper course.

Information

Location:
113 Midway Drive, Sebring, Florida 33870, USA
Time Zone:
EST (UTC-5)
FIA Grade:
2

The track underwent ownership changes in the 1990s. Firstly it was acquired by Scandia Racing boss Andy Evans, who subsequently sold it to Don Panoz in 1997. Under Panoz's stewardship, there has been further investment, which has seen the construction of the Château Elan Hotel overlooking the hairpin and the creation of separate club and school courses.

In September 2012 the Panoz Motorsport Group was sold to NASCAR, which thus became the new owner of Sebring Raceway. The famous 12 Hours continues, now part of the NASCAR-sanctioned United SportsCar Championship, while 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 teams also continue to use Sebring for winter testing due to the warm climate.

The introduction of the FIA WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring for 2019 brought the need for a second paddock to be constructed with its own separate pitlane along the Ulmann Straight. The start and finish remained in its traditional place, however.