12 Hours of Sebring!
Head across Alligator Alley and take a right on Highway 27. That takes you to the middle of Florida and the home of Sebring International Raceway. The track opened in 1950 on an airfield and was styled after those used in European Grand Prix motor racing. The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held around March 1952. The race is famous for its “once around the clock” action, starting during the day and finishing at night. It is known as preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the track’s extremely bumpy surface, combined with our hot weather, is a test of a car’s reliability. In recent years, six overall victories have been achieved by the Audi A8, one fewer than the record seven wins of the Porsche 935. Notable Jaguar wins were in 1955, with Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters driving the fabulous Jaguar D-Type.
The Sebring experience has been one that our own SFJC George Hervert has become an expert in. Now in his 12th year of visiting the event, George (and his RV companions, Don and Dave) have come to know the ins and outs of how best to enjoy Sebring. “If you know the best places to get situated on the congested circuit, you can get the most of the weekend,” says George. “We got an early start on Friday and got the best vantage point to enjoy the show.”
And what a show it was. This was a highly competitive 2021 event, punctuated by several collisions and blow-outs. In the end, the No. 5 Cadillac of JDC-Miller Motorsports were victorious. After being involved in multiple incidents, the winning Cadi dropped two laps behind at one point. Sebastien Bourdais and his all-French team, fended off a last minute charge by runner-up Harry Tincknell, attempting to deliver a second consecutive Sebring victory for the No. 55 Mazda. Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac, but the car was relegated to the back of the Dpi class because of a drive time infraction, putting Dane Cameron in the final podium position with the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura and co-drivers Olivier Pla and Juan Pablo Montoya.
As Bourdais told NBCSN pit reporter Kevin Lee, “If you want to look why (the victory was) improbable, the rear wing is missing. After the restart, I lost the rear element, and the center of pressure shifted about 6-8 percent forward. I thought I was going to crash it going into the last corner. And I had no idea I’d be able to drive it. I just hung in there.” In addition to No. 5 suffering damage, there were seven entries in the top Dpi division, and every car sustained significant damage in at least one major incident, but yet each took a turn at the front and being highly competitive for the victory. A tremendous victory considering the “bone rattling” surface of the raceway.
Just this past weekend, a group of us visited the Revs Institute in Naples (thanks Gold Coast British Car Club for the organization). As the Rev’s site describes it, “it is a place to see society through a different lens. It is an invitation into a working educational institution dedicated to the study, preservation, conservation and restoration of historically significant automobiles.” More than a mere museum, Rev’s has both a collection of rare and innovative automobiles of our time, plus physical and digital archives that honor our passion for motoring. This was my first time at Revs (part of the Collier Collection) Really, truly, for anyone visiting South Florida, put this on your list. You could literally spend 5 hours there. Knowledgeable docents are in every room and able to provide great information on the cars and some anecdotal histories that make the entire trip very memorable. Amongst the collection are the 1952 Cunningham C-4RK, a 1937 Delehaye Type 135MS Special Roadster, a 1914 Mercedes Type 18/100 Grand Prix, 1955 Jaguar D-Type, and the truly unique 1950 Cadillac Series 61 Le Man “Le Monstre.” If you are planning a trip to Rev, book your tickets ahead of time to make sure 1) they are open 2) it is not already booked that day. COVID-19 protocol is in effect.
Happy Spring everyone! Next stop, Amelia!