Dramatic finishes are Sebring hallmark After 1,184 miles of racing over 12 hours, negotiating 5,440 turns and making more than 7,000 gear shifts, the GT2 class at last year's Sebring 12-hour classic was decided by a margin of just five seconds. The 55th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 17th, will add yet another chapter in the history of this legendary event, second only to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in international prestige.
Expect epic down-to-the-wire battles at Sebring. Over the past eight years, five times the overall victory margin at Sebring was less than 40 seconds. With four different classes of competition and a world-class field of cars and drivers, expect non-stop action on Sebring 3.7 mile, 17-turn circuit.
You can also expect the unexpected at Sebring. Since Stirling Moss helped drive a little Italian car known as an OSCA to a stunning upset in 1954, Sebring has been the playground of underdogs and innovators.
In 1965, Jim Hall drove his "home-built" Chaparral with an automatic transmission to a dominating win. In 1983, a GT class Porsche battled from 11 laps behind to win. Last year, the world's first diesel-powered Le Mans prototype, the Audi R10 TDI, recorded a historic win.
And who can forget the dramatic 1970 race, when an underpowered Porsche driven by Peter Revson and actor Steve McQueen nearly beat the Ferrari factory team, led by Mario Andretti? Although they fell just 22 seconds short, it proved private teams often have a chance against factory teams. Last year, Intersport Racing finished second overall behind Audi in their LMP2 class Lola-AER with Jon and Clint Field driving with Liz Halliday, posting the best overall finish ever by a woman in the history of international sports car racing.
And there has been plenty of heartbreak at Sebring. Eight times the leader at Sebring with just one hour remaining did not win. Dan Gurney's Ford dominated the 1966 race, but its engine seized on the last lap. As he tried to push the car across the finish line, another Ford driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby passed him with just 10 seconds remaining in the race. Gurney was then disqualified for pushing the car, losing his second-place finish as well.
This year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring features the competition debut of prototypes from Acura, Porsche and Mazda, all hoping to challenge the Audi juggernaut, winner of seven consecutive Sebring races. Corvette, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Panoz and several other makes will also compete in the American Le Mans Series season-opener.
Since the first running of Sebring's 12-hour sports car classic, 3,326 cars have entered Sebring. Usually, less than half the field survives the brutal circuit.
Gates open at Sebring on Wednesday, March 14th, and remain open 24 hours a day through Saturday. The 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit is America's most fan-friendly road racing facility, offering a wide range of viewing options and off-track activities for the entire family (kids 12 and under are always free when accompanied by a paying adult).
Tickets to the 55th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring are available by calling (800) 626-7223.