About Sebring International Speedway
Sebring International Raceway, a pivotal player in the sports car racing revolution, invites you to become part of the legacy and exciting future.
Sebring International Speedway
Located adjacent to Sebring Regional Airport, Sebring International Raceway is home to one of the most famous races in the world – the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. In 2019 the race was voted the No. 1 motorsports event in North America in a prestigious fan poll conducted by USA Today.
Sebring International Raceway was established in 1950 and is North America’s oldest permanent road racing facility. It is therefore known as the Birthplace of American Endurance Racing. The circuit sits on what was once a WWII B-17 combat crew training base known as Hendricks Field. Nestled among the orange groves and cattle ranches of Central Florida, Sebring International Raceway has hosted the legendary 12-hour endurance classic since 1952, which is now part of the prestigious IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It was the site of the first-ever FIA World Championship Sports Car Race in 1953, and in 2012 hosted the inaugural race of the FIA WEC, which returned in 2019 to run the day before the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. Sebring is also known as one of the most versatile testing facilities in the motorsports industry, offering a variety of circuit configurations for club and corporate events, private testing, and racing schools.
The first Sebring race was held on New Year's Eve in 1950 and lasted six hours. Two years later, the race was moved to March and became a 12-hour endurance race promoted by Russian-born Alec Ulmann. Ulmann encouraged world-famous drivers like Sterling Moss of England, World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina and Indy 500 winners like Bob Sweikart to compete at the new circuit. Ulmann also brought in factory teams from Ferrari, Porsche and Jaguar which featured drivers and crews from all over the globe. In the 68-year history of the race, the most famous names in racing have won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, including Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Juan Manuel Fangio and many other legends of the sport. Hollywood actors including Steve McQueen and Paul Newman have also competed in this historic race.
Sebring International Raceway, and the adjacent Sebring Regional Airport, occupy the site of the former Hendricks Army Airfield, a training base for B-17 pilots from 1941-46. After the war, Russian-American aeronautical engineer Alec Ulmann sought sites for converting military aircraft to civilian use when he discovered the potential of Hendricks' Field runways and service roads for a sports car endurance race similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race first run in 1923 in Le Mans, France. Ulmann was inspired by Le Mans and desired to create a similar event in the United States. Sebring's first race, under Ulmann’s direction, was held on New Year's Eve of 1950 and attracted 30 race cars from across North America. The Sam Collier 6 Hour Memorial race was won by Frits Koster and Ralph Deshon in a Crosley Hot Shot that had been driven to the track by a spectator, Victor Sharpe.
The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952 and in a short period of time grew into a major international race. In 1959, the track hosted the United States’ first Formula One race held as that year's installment of the historic United States Grand Prix. For much of Sebring's history, the track followed a 5.2-mile layout. After a disastrous 1966 12 Hours the track was widened and lengthened 50 yards for 1967 with the removal of the Webster Turn between the hairpin and the top of the track and replacement with the faster Green Park Chicane. This was closer to the hairpin and allowed a flat-out run through a very fast corner to the top of the track and the runway. The circuit was changed and shortened in 1983 to allow simultaneous use of the track and one of the runways, and major changes in 1987 allowed use of another runway. Further changes in 1991 accommodated expansion of the airport's facilities, allowing the entire track to be used without interfering with normal airport operations and bringing it close to its current configuration.
Given that large sections of the Raceway include the original Hendricks’ Field concrete surface, Sebring is renowned for its rough, bumpy and changing nature. Because of its bumps, and its enormous crowds, Sebring is a favorite of both drivers and fans. Drivers find the demanding surface separates drivers and makes extreme driving conditions one of motorsports greatest challenges. In fact, many drivers have commented that a 12-hour race at Sebring is far more grueling than 24-hour contests at either Le Mans or Daytona.
The track is owned by IMSA Holdings, LLC through its subsidiary Sebring International Raceway, LLC. IMSA Holdings is itself a subsidiary of NASCAR.
A Heroic Field
- Former winners read like a Who’s Who of motor racing: Mario Andretti, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Al Holbert, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Rahal and Tom Kristensen.
- Sebring is also famous for celebrity participation. Steve McQueen nearly won the race in 1970, while James Brolin, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman and even journalist Walter Cronkite have competed in the race.
- Sebring winners include major manufacturers such as Porsche, Ferrari, Nissan, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota.
- For six decades, Sebring has been a staple of the international sports press, from the cover of Sports Illustrated to ESPN to The Wall Street Journal.