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New Historic Car Race – Classic 12 Hours Sebring

1966 Ford GT40 Peter Falkner
1966 Ford GT40

Following the success of the Classic 24 Hours at Daytona, Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) announced a new 12-hour endurance race for historic race cars at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Scheduled for December 2016, the new ‘Classic 12 Hours of Sebring, Pistons and Props’ will celebrate the venerable 12 Hours of Sebring and nearby historic Hendricks Field.

The HSR Classic 12 Hours of Sebring, Pistons and Props, Presented by Alan Jay Automotive Network will follow the same concept as HSR’s Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, which ran for the second time at Daytona International Speedway in November 2015.The popularity of the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona provided the inspiration behind the similar event on the iconic grounds of Sebring International Raceway. While the 24 Hour at Daytona is America’s premier 24-hour race, the Twelve Hours of Sebring has gained equally legendary status as the oldest major sports car race in the United States.

An entirely unique aspect of the Classic 12 Hours of Sebring, Pistons and Props, however, will be the simultaneous celebration of Sebring’s rich military and civil aviation history that is as much a part of the 12 Hours of Sebring as the race itself.

HSR President David Hinton commented, “We met with Wayne Estes (Sebring International Raceway President and General Manager) during the recent Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA and decided even before the final checkered flags flew that we had to do a similar event at Sebring International Raceway. Wayne and his team here at Sebring then had the amazing idea to make this not only a celebration of the 12 Hours but also the rich aviation history and heritage of the very facility on which we race each year. We look forward to what will certainly be a unique and exciting event.”

The on-track activity for the Classic 12 Hours of Sebring, Pistons and Props, will be similar to the format of the Classic 24 Hour, with run groups of period correct race cars from the last 50 to 60 years competing on the same circuit used each March for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Dan Curry, 1985 Porsche 962 HR-1 Picasa
Dan Curry, 1985 Porsche 962 HR-1

Preliminary plans for the aviation celebration call for a vintage aircraft “fly in” on Friday and airplane and facility tours throughout the weekend. The lasting connection between historic race cars and aviation will also come to life again with sports cars and classic airplanes parked next to each other on the ground of Sebring’s Hendricks Field.

A United States Army Air Force base, Hendricks Field officially operated from January 1942 until December 31, 1945. During its operation the base trained hundreds of combat crews, primarily in B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers.

Originally called the Sebring Basic Flying School, the base was renamed Hendricks Field in honor of Lt. Laird W. Hendricks, Jr., a Floridian and West Point Graduate who was killed in England while training Royal Air Force pilots prior to the United States entering World War II.

Sebring‘s motorsports heritage began with the running of the Sam Collier Six Hour Memorial Grand Prix on December 31, 1950. Founder and Promoter Alec Ulmann then established the first 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952. The race quickly evolved into America’s most important international road racing event.

Sebring International Raceway’s 3.74-mile road course still utilizes portions of the original Hendricks Field concrete taxiways and runways. In addition to the annual 12-hour classic, the road course is utilized over 300 days per year for club events, testing, racing schools and other activities.

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[Source: HSR; photo: Peter Falkner; Michael DiPleco]