America’s premier sports car endurance race started at an abandoned WWII Army Air Corps base in Florida. “The 12-Hours of Sebring” is one of the most important racing events in the U.S. Inaugurated in 1952, Sebring took its place among the ’50s-era international endurance races on which the World Manufacturers’ Championship was then based, these being the Mexican Road Race, Le Mans, the Targa Florio, the Mille Miglia and the Tourist Trophy. Here’s how it all began:
The person behind Sebring was one Alec Ulmann. Born in Russia in 1903, Ulmann was educated in Switzerland and then in the U.S. where, in 1925, he graduated from the Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering. Alec was active in sports car racing during the 1930s as an official. The Sports Car Club of America was founded in February, 1944, and Ulmann joined that July. Alec lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, with his aviation products business based in New York City. In 1948, he was appointed SCCA “Activities Chairman” and he officiated at a number of events in the area. He was the chief steward at the 1948 Watkins Glen road race, the first U.S. sports car road race after WWII.
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