Sebring International Raceway
Central Florida’s Sebring International Raceway hasn’t always been one of the premier endurance racing venues in the world—originally it was Hendricks Field, where young pilots learned to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress. A few years after the war, the first race was held at the old airfield, and soon after Sebring hosted the first event it would become world-famous for: the 12 Hours of Sebring, a demanding endurance race inspired by the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of the reasons the race is considered so difficult is that part of the original concrete-slab runway—bumps, seams, and all—provides a brutish racing surface at Sunset Bend, a high-speed, large radius turn in between the Ullman Straight and the front straight where your suspension tuning will be severely tested. In its original configuration, it did not take long for Sebring to become the American venue of choice for European manufacturers to show off their latest creations—a tradition that continues to the present day, as top-flight prototype constructors like Audi and Peugeot often duel at Sebring to test their cars’ mettle before competing at Le Mans. However, Sebring has also been the scene for home-grown competitors to triumph; in 1953, an all-American Cunningham C4R took the checkered flag to become the first American car to win a WSC race—as a tribute, the corner after the Fangio straight is referred to as Cunningham. Another American victory occurred in 1966, when Shelby’s modifications to an experimental GT40 variant bested the stiff competition from Ferrari’s wickedly fast 330 P3, a preview of the 1-2-3 finish for GT40s later that year at Le Mans. Significant revisions in the late 1980s have allowed Sebring to be used year-round, separated from the airport that is adjacent to the course. The combinations of long straights, tight technical corners, and wide passing spots make racing challenging and exciting, as does the rough surface.