It’s not just a race day, it’s a race week in Sebring Florida.
When? It’s in March of each year.
Where? At the Sebring International Raceway, which is located adjacent to the Sebring Regional Airport, and that’s just south of town near the confluence of Kenilworth Boulevard in Sebring, which you can drive right down to take in race week in Sebring, and Haywood Taylor Boulevard. Turn left when you get to the end of Kenilworth, and Sebring International Raceway is on the right down just a ways.
What is race week in Sebring Florida?
I have to admit to being a non-car racing fan. When asked if I wanted to help Big Brothers of Sebring by volunteering at the track on Race Day, I did so to help, not for any particular interest in the spectacle. Oh my! Were my eyes opened.
Race week in Sebring Florida culminates in the world famous, and that’s not just a saying, Twelve Hours of Sebring endurance race. Visitors and driving teams arrive for days of racing practice, camping, partying until all hours, and just enjoying the spectacle of more than 40 racing cars and their teams and equipment readying for the the big race after four days of full time prep, and for some of the visitors, a week of hanging in.
The big race, the Sebring 12 hour endurance race is the oldest race of it’s type, and has been run continuously for 66 years and ends race week.
The Sebring 12 hours endurance race is currently sanctioned by IMSA. What’s IMSA you might ask? I did. From their website I gleaned, IMSA is “the International Motor Sports Association …The sanctioning body was founded in 1969 by John Bishop with the assistance of NASCAR President Bill France Sr.” If you want to know more about IMSA, visit their site: https://www.imsa.com
The cars racing at the race week in Sebring Florida are not meek and mild! These cars are fast, including prototype cars with up to 600 HP and top speeds of 200 mph, the GT Le Mans cars built on production models and tricked out to maximum potentials of 525 HP and 185 mph top speed, and the GT Daytona series built to the FIA GTS3 specs, and include “cheap seat” cars like the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche among many others others. These race at up to 175 mph and have power plants up to 520 HP.
Racing takes place on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Sebring, so visitors that buy the 4 day pass get to enjoy more than one race. Those that stay over the whole week may tend to party late into the evening.
This next photo was taken just after 7 a.m. on race day, and as we set up our stations for parking control, this person still slept merrily away, despite many voices, loud speakers, and non-stop cars and trucks going by on the main concourse scarcely a car’s width away.
We understand from some of the other longer-term volunteers that some visitors have been coming to race week for years and years. In some case, second an third generation. They reserve the same spot every year, and come prepared for the stay.
All the comforts of home are brought along in the camper or motor home, and pre-fabbed scaffolding is ready to go. The park rules ask that scaffolding be limited to 6′ high to help prevent tragedy. So I took this next photo. Oops! Looks like they didn’t measure carefully.
BBQ’s, propane stove, some folks bring couches, easy chairs, anything they think will make enjoying the all-week-long spectacle more enjoyable. It seemed common for folks to bring along portable coolers so they could transport their favorite drinks to their chairs along the spacious visitor viewing areas throughout the track. This next shot shows one person who felt that carrying their cooler was a bit too much work. And yes, this is a drink cooler built onto a lawnmower carriage.
After about 8 a.m. thinks really started getting busy at the race way.
Cruising cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other assorted vehicles up and down the main concourse is a tradition at Sebring raceway. All manner and shape of vehicles can be seen, and those particularly proud of their wheels “strut” – if the term can be used for cruising? – their stuff up and down the main drag all day long.
Some really “interesting” and well-decorated vehicles cruise too, and as they rolled by, cheers could be heard by pedestrians enjoying the show. This is an all-day, daily thing at Sebring race week.
Rolling bathtubs, living rooms on a flat bed, top-removed buses with full bars and barbecues, whatever can be dreamed up shows up when cruising at Sebring during race week.
It’s the pits at race week in Sebring Florida
One of the things I very much enjoyed, given that the main race lasted 12 hours and I had lots of time to wander, was checking out the pits. You access that area by walking over either of the two walk-overs provided for guests, one of which is shown below. When you do, be prepared for the incredible blast of noise as Sebring cars rocket by right under you on the start/home straightaway at awesome speed.
Once on the other side is the pit’s support row in which are major machine shops on wheels, and complete tire resurfacing, testing and balancing shop.
Continental Tire is a sponsor, and it’s their shop-on-wheels that can be seen in the pit row at Sebring. I watched them for along while. Golf cars towing tires just removed from the race cars were hauled to the pit row as soon as they came off the cars.
The Continental Tire line is duplicated, I expect, at racetracks around North America. Not all would be Continental, but Sebring certainly was.
And check out the fuel supply for the cars!
All day long cart after cart of fuel drums were taken to the track full, and then empties were brought back. No smoking, please!
Cross the pit support row, and you are just outside of a fence into which is access to the working pits. Access was limited to drivers, technicians and the privileged few that paid for the privilege.
The rest of us just peered in as cars zoomed into the pits and the technicians performed their magic.
They keep Sebring Raceway clean, all day!
I was impressed with the regular garbage pickup, grounds were mostly spotless all day, and most of the rest rooms had all-day full time attendants to ensure that they were clean and well stocked… all day, not just to start. That’s very well done for a venue that is open for days, and that has thousands of visitors from around the world staying for 24 hour stints.
All vehicles are checked on the way into the park to help ensure no firearms are brought in. They are not allowed, nor are fireworks.
In an out privileges are in place. As long as you have a ticket, you exit the main gates, and they will give you a pass to re-enter. No charge. Just in case you need to zip out to the local package store for something!
Here’s a very brief video link, the few second video I took of the cars passing one spot in the race. Yes, I said they were fast.
Spent some time at the Sebring 12 hour race today. My goodness these folks move fast! pic.twitter.com/KycitjGogv
As the staff summarized on their viewing guide, after a long week, ” the Sebring Raceway staff are going to bed at noon on Sunday! So, please go home, with all of your stuff, before then! “
Want more info? Visit: www.sebringraceway.com