This Is Going To Be One Of The Greatest Sports Car Endurance Weekends Of All Time
By Wayne Estes, President & General Manager
Sebring International Raceway
Sebring’s loyal ticket holders have been calling with great regularity asking when tickets to the 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the inaugural WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring would go on sale.
Sports car racing fans’ anticipation is over the top. Truly, this is going to be one of the greatest sports car endurance weekends of all time in which both of the world’s top sports car series run separate, grueling, endurance races just hours apart.
WEC competitors will run their longest race, but for Le Mans itself. Sebring fans will get to see one of the greatest road racing champions in Fernando Alonso, trying to put his Toyota Hybrid Prototype into Sebring’s Winners Circle, as he did earlier this year at Spa and Le Mans. WEC touts the most technologically advanced sports cars in the world.
Drivers and teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will roll into Sebring after the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 2018 season, which was one of the most competitive in IMSA history. All IMSA teams will be on Michelin tires in 2019, and the prototype class will be split into two divisions, one for DPi and another for P2 cars, certainly creating a more interesting competition among both kinds of cars. Across all classes, IMSA boasts the most manufacturers in any racing series.
Packed in the schedule around the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and WEC practice, qualifying sessions, and races (that will run well into the night all four nights), will be the renamed Michelin Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge races set for Thursday and Friday.
So, that’s the show But there is so much more to the story.
Bringing these two great series together is a bold idea. Many people asked, “How are they going to do that?”
So, here is the view from the Sebring Raceway side of the table.
Just days after Hurricane Irma blew through Florida, we received word that IMSA’s Jim France, Ed Bennett and Scott Atherton met with ACO/WEC’s Pierre Fillon and Gerard Neveu in Miami and developed the idea of back-to-back 12 hour races at Sebring. The following day, WEC announced the event at its final race in Mexico.
WEC officials visited the 2018 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and realized just how great the iconic and historic Sebring race is and modified the WEC race format, shifting to a 1000-mile Friday afternoon-evening event, making way for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to bring down the curtain on another Sebring milestone.
The devil truly is in the details, and it took far longer to work out those details than either side imagined.
An all-new pit road would be required, as well as an expanded paddock for the IMSA teams, and facilities for hundreds of additional motorsports journalists.
IMSA and WEC hammered out myriad issues, with Sebring’s input primarily related to the impact these issues would have on the loyal Sebring ticket holders.
Ultimately, what is foremost on the minds of Sebring’s ticket holders is the ticket price.
One school of thought: What is a WEC 1000-mile race worth? If the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is worth roughly $100, is the addition of a WEC 1000-mile race worth $50 more? $70 more? Maybe even doubling the price?
However, what Sebring management and its loyal guests know, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is far more than a 12-hour sports car race on the third weekend in March. It’s the entire event, from lining up prior to the Wednesday gate opening, to finding traditional spots in Green Park, to music, reuniting with friends, to grilling, to shopping the Midway, to fireworks, and so on and on and on.
For many people who attend the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the action on the track is secondary at best. For others, the chance to see more hours and twice the number of great sports cars means everything.
Ultimately, all sides agreed that a modest increase is the right approach for an event like this for tickets that include both the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Ticket buyers taking advantage of our Early Bird Special (available through the Michelin Encore weekend in November) can purchase four-day SuperTickets for just $10 more than the 2018 advance price, and advance purchase car parking prices remain the same as they have for several years.
For those who want just the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race and its events after the WEC race, there will be no price increase for Saturday’s one-day ticket.
And after many days and months working out all aspects of this race, tickets are now on sale.
If you are truly excited about this historic event, look up IMSA President Scott Atherton at an IMSA event at Road Atlanta, Daytona or Sebring over the next several months and tell him thank you. His determination made this event possible.
And every member of Team Sebring is equally determined to make your annual trip to this magnificent event more special than ever.
We welcome you to another historic chapter at the Birthplace of American Endurance Racing.