The Classic 12hrs of Sebring is the end of the year motorsport event. The event brings classic race machines and classic warbirds together at Sebring International Raceway.

 

It is that time of the year for all gearheads, the end of the motorsports season. No more Formula One, World Endurance Championship, IMSA, etc. While we wait for the 2018 24hrs of Daytona to kick-off the racing year. The Classic 12hrs of Sebring is ready to fill that void. It is a great event to attend; you get a variety of legendary cars racing each other. The track feels like you own it (especially on Sunday, the last day the race cars run).

The Classic 12hrs of Sebring feels different than other events; you have warbirds flying (some low altitude fly-bys) above you while race cars are competing on the ground at the same time. I will always consider myself an ambassador of motorsports, and this is a great event to attend. If you enjoy motorsports, especially endurance racing the atmosphere at Sebring is hard to beat. One is capable of being up close to cars that you never imagined to see close up. The only drawback of the event is it makes you want to buy a classic race car with a pro racing pedigree to enter this event, in my case the 1986 Toyota Celica GTO (I’m a Toyota nerd what can I say -shrugs-).

The Road Trip to Sebring

 

The trip to Sebring International Raceway is a typical road trip through Florida, a lot of flat, green land, some cows, and horses not much of a scenic drive at the time but the payoff is always reaching Sebring. It is rare to have such a legendary race track so close. Sebring has a historic charm only an old race circuit can provide, and its minimalism is part of the appeal. The race circuit has the necessary safety additions to protect drivers and spectators. A few more additions here and there but Sebring is mostly untouched. Sebring feels like a time warp every time we go to a simpler time in racing.

Unique Racing Action

 

Sebring Raceway is a challenging and fun track to drive, ask anyone who is a veteran of turn 17’s bumps. This event is unique. It is not every day you see a 1968 Chevy Camaro keep up with Can-Am cars but that is some of the things you see in vintage racing, and I for one cannot get enough of all the match-up differences in some classes.

Chevy Camaro is keeping up with Can-Am cars.

Just a Ford GT40, BMW and a Mazda MX-5 racing in the same class no big deal, the Mazda was not being pulled by much throughout the race.

A Car Guy’s Mini-Travel Guide for Sebring Raceway

 

An older Sebring International Raceway track map but a clear and less congested map (easier to read and use).

 

As you pass through the main entrance of Sebring Raceway, you are on the Midway section you run parallel with the start/finish line straight, and for this event, in particular, you have the freedom to park almost anywhere. You should always start your day at Sebring (if you arrive early enough) by crossing the bridge over the main start/finish line straight and check out the pit area for race cars and ramp area for vintage airplanes. It is a great mix to see vintage planes and vintage race cars next to each other and of all places a race track located at a  former training base for WW2 planes. We recommend going to this area first because in the morning the aircraft leave the ramp area and take off to fly around the racing action below. 

 

It is an exciting feeling seeing warbirds in the background and a Lola preparing before a race.

 

Now a Warbird up front and the back of a Ford GT40 in the far background.

 

VP Race Fuels and a Vintage plane make for a great photo op.

 

The Gurney Bend

 

Once you are done making your way through the staging area for the planes, start heading back to the start/finish line main straight bridge and to what I consider one of the best viewing spots at Sebring Raceway, the Gurney Bend. This turn and the ensuing straight is where all the cars fly past you at wide-open throttle, high-speeds, and late braking at the end of the straight into Turn Seven make for a fantastic viewing experience. Another positive of this area is there is a shady area (always great to find in the Florida heat), and the low fence and hill gives an unobstructed view of the track. We have been to Sebring Raceway many times, the Gurney Bend and Turn Seven hairpin are must-do stops every time. 

 

The Gurney Bend and Turn 7 hairpin just past the Mobil 1 Bridge.

 

Modern top of the line race machinery

 

More recent past racing machinery, a Porsche that was by far one of the fastest older Porsches I’ve seen at Sebring

 

The vintage race cars you come to the Classic 12hrs of Sebring to see at wide-open throttle.

An Art In Motion History Lesson

 

I am a nerd for history, so you can imagine my geek out over motorsports history at a Classic 12hrs of Sebring Race, seeing more recent race cars in the same pits as classic and sometimes iconic race cars is a rare treat for this car guy. I always wondered how an endurance prototype race car would do against an open-wheel race car, and that happened as well at this event, this time the prototype won. 

 

The legendary Audi prototype vs. … 

 

The open-wheel racer. The battle between these two was fun to watch and not something you see at motorsports events.

The Racing Atmosphere Of The Past

 

The low-key and almost grassroots atmosphere must have been a magnificent way for these teams and drivers to end the season. It was low stress but fun and intense racing. Too many times on television I see vintage race cars bought at auctions and rarely seen or used again, all race cars should always do one thing, and that’s to go fast on a racing circuit. It is a shame for purebred classic race cars to end up locked up in a museum or warehouse somewhere. To get started up a few times and back in storage they go. These vintage race cars are at home at legendary tracks like Sebring Raceway. We all owe a round of applause for HSR (Historic Sportscar Racing) for hosting and creating an event like this. 

 

The car above was in the film “Le Mans” starring the “King of Cool” Steve McQueen.

 

That is always a great view for the engine nerds like myself.

Racing Is For Everyone

 

We at Sexto Elemento are car nerds; there is no better way to describe it. We enjoy spectating and driving just about any motorsport events we can. Sebring is growing as one of my favorite tracks because of the atmosphere. It is not common to be so close to the action. Only an older and historic race track creates that aura of how racing was in the past. We hope to drive in Sebring and experience the rollercoaster ride of the Turn 17 bumps. From everyone I’ve heard (pro or grassroots) there is nothing like driving Sebring. I want to add there is nothing like spectating a 12hrs of Sebring race. Most notably going to the Green Park area at night and the party that ensues when the sun goes down. 

 

When we say racing is for everyone we mean it! What is better than man’s best friend and man’s biggest love/hate relationship (the automobile)?

 

Low Budget, No Problem

 

We want to show that even with a low-budget a car guy can have fun in many different ways. All of us cannot afford to be gentlemen racers or buy ex-Le Mans race cars. We can enjoy hearing and seeing them race. We want to show racing is for everyone if you can’t race former pro race cars, race at the local club level. You can’t afford that then autocross. If that is too much then build a basic sim rig (wheel and pedals), computer and race online. We live in a time that we can accommodate a budget for our passion. Until the next time, we will always be an ambassador for cars and motorsports. We hope to inspire more track day drivers (real or virtual), no matter the skill level or budget.

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