Sebring Wrap-Up: Please Help Me, I’m Falling. Taylor, Cadillacs Stay Strong; GTLM Surprise

I need help. I am slowly rekindling my love for sportscar racing. The IMSA Weather Tech Sportscar Championship is growing on me.  Will I go to more races?  Probably not. I have a full Indycar schedule.  However, I will pay more attention to them when they race with Indycar.

This year’s 65th running of the Sebring 12 hour race was a fascinating event. Going in, I was wondering if the Cadillacs would be as strong here as they were at Daytona. This track is very different than Daytona. The results were basically the same.  Wayne Taylor Racing (below) swept the 36 hours of Florida while Action Express finished second again.  The difference was Taylor dominated and won without any last minute controversy.0318171253i

In GTLM, the Ganassi Ford GT’s were expected torepeat their Daytona victory, but issues allowed the #3  Corvette (below)  to prevail. The Corvettes struggled at Daytona, and the #4 Vette retired around the midpoint of this  race.0316171534

Why am I starting to like this series? I used to follow sportscars as avidly as I do Indycar when I was younger. I began to focus on Indycar more and sportscars got pushed to the side.  I like the diversity of engines and chassis. I like the fact that a driver who has no chance at the overall win can still win his class. I like that there are lots of cars racing at once.  I’m finding the races getting easier to follow.

Sebring- the town, the track, the race- is my favorite sportscar event. The track is old and looks very similar to how lit looked in the 60’s.  Fan amenities were somewhat improved this year. They could use a couple more video boards.  Club 12  was a nice addition. It had a full bar and a very nice menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I explored some viewing spots for the first time this year. Last year I discovered the turn 7 grandstand just outside the hotel. This stand is on the hairpin with a view of the straight leading to the turn and a good view of the straight as they exit the turn. I crossed the bridge and walked down to Turn 9. From the mound inside the hairpin, you get a nice look at the approach to the turn, then watch the quick acceleration toward turn 8. Walking toward Turn9 and looking back to the hairpin is an action-packed place to watch the race.  I will spend more time there next year. My goal is to get all the way around the track both inside and out. I may need to live a long time.

The fans at Sebring are a mix of serious race fans and serious party fans. They remind me of the 60’s at IMS.  I also saw some incredible camping setups. One site had a mini kitchen set up complete with a sink with running water.  Many sites are made to resemble living rooms. Campers cover virtually every inch of the grounds. The gates open Wednesday, the day before the event begins. Many fans camping arrive several days before and wait for the track to open.

In just three short years, Sebring has earned a place on my annual calendar. I ran into more Indycar fans that I know this year as well. I have also made some friends among the sportscar crowd. It doesn’t hurt the appeal of the race that some Indycar drivers participate. St. Pete and Rolex 24 winner Sebastien Bourdais came up just a bit short in his bid for the Florida sweep.

I recommend a trip to the Sebring 12 hour. It is a fun weekend. Endurance racing has always had an intrigue for me. I am glad I can watch it unfold in person.

Greatest 33 Non-winners update- I have narrowed the field to 48 drivers. I am compiling stats for them and will have the list out next week so both my readers can create their grids.

 

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