The car windows of the car immediately go down as we arrive. Waiting in line at Sebring International Raceway on the day of The Classic 12hrs Of Sebring is unique. The sound of Porsche flat-sixes roaring by, the rumble of pony car V8s, and to top it off the sound of radial engine vintage warbirds starting up. Sebring is the perfect backdrop for this event. The name suits it well, Pistons & Props. The Classic 12hrs Of Sebring interwinds and displays their history of being WW2 airfield turned iconic racetrack. The event is the farewell to motorsports for the year. Every event I attend at Sebring endears me more to this track. Sebring represents the best mix of old-school and new-school motorsports.

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We were waiting in line, all you could hear were racecars and warbirds engines in the distance.
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The Wall Of Champions at the entrance of Sebring International Raceway.
Arriving and being welcomed at the area between the Gurney and Fangio Terraces and competitors paddock.
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Sebring Raceway is a perfect backdrop for a P51 Mustang, an airfield turned iconic racetrack.

Racecars and Warbirds sum up The Classic 12hrs Of Sebring – Piston & Props Event.

 

The Feel Of Old School Motorsports

Modern (pro) motorsports have too many restrictions for cars, tracks, and spectators. Of course, rules for safety are paramount, but sanitizing motorsports too much can ruin the allure of it. Modern (pro) racetracks are billion dollar resorts, which do have their place. I will always prefer a classic track either as a driver or spectator. Classic tracks tend to put you closer to the racing action, and you can feel the history as you walk through them. Sebring International Raceway is the perfect mix of old-school motorsport feel with just enough modern touches, mainly for safety. When you drive or spectate at Sebring you know legends have been here; it is hallowed racing grounds.

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An example of some new touches at Sebring, a new bridge being built to enter Green Park.
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You can see the spectators viewing area of The Gurney Bend and race track distance. The hill and low fence make for unobstructed viewing of the entire Gurney Bend and entry to Turn 7.

 

Racecars & Laidback Atmosphere

Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) hold these events around the U.S.A to give these classic cars a backdrop to be the stars of the show again. It is unique to see the 1960s to just retired race cars race in their specific group. The 1960-70s class race battles in 2018 are the closest we will ever get to time travel and see the Porsches, Lotus, and Fords battle it out. It always a pleasant site to see former professional racing cars in a laid-back motorsport atmosphere. The fan has access to areas usually blocked off, like the Fangio and Gurney Terraces.

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Cars, fun, and stress that about sums up all motorsports, even at a laid-back event.
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Porsches were battling it out on the Start/Finish Line straight. You cannot have a sportscar race without Porsches.
A Lotus staging before the race. A fun tidbit the dash is signed by Colin Chapman.
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Colin Chapman signature.
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Staging time right before the cars are let out onto the track.
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Lola getting stagged before the race.

The feeling of The Classic 12hrs of Sebring event is that of going to a car meet with friends, just at a race track and classic icons racing around. Most of the cars you see have a professional racing pedigree either in IMSA or an FIA sanctioning series. It is not a common site in motorsports to see pro machines and teams laid-back and opening their garages to fans.

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The legendary Audi Prototype’s beastly internals on display before a race.
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The open cockpit of the Audi prototype welcomes you in.
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The naked front end of the Audi is suspension and carbon fiber art every angle you look.
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The Jagermeister Porsche has always been one of my favorite Porsches just behind the 917.
Some of you may have to zoom in to read but it is worth it, a very famous Porsche.

 

Planes, Pit Bikes and (Racing) Automobiles

The most import part of this event is the legendary cars you will see. Road racing Ford Mustangs signed by Carol Shelby, Lotus signed by Colin Chapman, Audi prototypes that won Le Mans, Nissan Skyline GTR from Super GT and much more. As DIYers, we enjoy seeing the cars on the track and walking the paddock and seeing how these race cars work. There are not many places you see a leaf-spring 1960s Ford Mustang and then a Super GT Nissan Skyline near each other. To see how road race tuned leaf-spring suspension works, and the radical suspension on the Skyline is great for this suspension nerd (i.e., me).

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The Nissan Skyline (R34) Super GT was a great sight to see for this Japanese car nerd.
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This is the suspension wizardry front and back for this Skyline (aka Godzilla).
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The rear suspension magic.
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Inside Godzilla, ah what it would be like to fire up this monster and go wide-open-throttle at Sebring Raceway. The closest I’ll get is on a racing sim. Sadly, for the two days I went I never saw it run on the track 🙁

To see the leaf-spring Mustang hound the Ford GT40 shows that the driver mod is the most important thing in racing. The classic 12hrs Of Sebring is a Pro-Am event. The driver fields are a mix of current and past professional and enthusiasts. The enthusiast’s drivers following a pro driver will learn more in one race than what they may learn all year. The drivers race hard but clean. The best type of racing is low politics and high fun, for spectator and drivers.

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The Ford Mustangs pestering the Ford GT40 almost every race.
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Caroll Shelby signature on the dash.
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Leaf-springed grip beast, it was a pleasure to see old, ancient school suspension still perform well.

 

A New Racing Tradition – Historic Sportscar Racing

Every year The Classic 12hrs Of Sebring grows, and it is becoming the farewell to road racing until The 24hrs Of Daytona. The event keeps the pros sharp, the enthusiast drivers and spectators happy. Some teams come from all over the U.S.A to attend this event. We are lucky to see iconic cars at wide open throttle. Then, you add the vintage warplanes, and you have a perfect event for Sebring. The combination of all these factors leads it to become a new tradition in historic racing. The west coast has Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and we have HSR’s The Classic 12hrs Of Racing.

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Racing action time, a Porsche hitting the curbs a little too hard.
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Newer endurance prototype versus a legend.
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The fully dressed Audi ripping through all of Sebring Raceway’s corners.
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The Oldsmobile racing through Turn 3 & 4 at Sebring.
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The Jagermeister Porsche exiting Turn 17 onto the Start/Finish Line straight.
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It is a weird feeling looking into the Gurney Bend and not seeing a Bridge there. A new one being built for the back to back events at Sebring, WEC and IMSA.
How do you get a Porsche’s attention for a pitstop? By hanging Micky Mouse by his feet of course.
See? It works. I will say that is an original idea that no driver will forget or confuse.
The best way to leave Sebring Raceway is with a reminder of more racing. The WEC 1000 and The 12hrs Of Sebring, back to back events in March.

Quick Notes For Spectators:

HSR’s The Classic 12hrs Of Sebring Event is usually held in late November, early December.

The best day to go is Saturday (in our opinion) due to the mix of daytime and nighttime racing. Sunday around 10 am the warbirds take flight above the racing action. Sunday is the better deal and fewer people, but you may miss some cars. Some of the teams pack up early and leave on Sunday.

Prices: Saturday ($35), Sunday ($25)

Weather: It is Florida, so it is unpredictable but usually nice weather, cooler mornings (60s Farenheight) and warmer during the day (70s to 80s Farenheight).

Traffic: None, short lines if any to get into the Sebring International Raceway

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