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Christopher Bruce2012-03-14 15:23:24

The Brief History of the 12 Hours of Sebring (with Video)

The History of the 12 Hours of Sebring

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Located on the site of a former United States Air Force training base that had shut down in 1946, the first race at Sebring was held in 1950, and it grew to be an internationally competitive race on the sports car calendar soon after. 

The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held in 1952, but it was only a regionally competitive race. In 1953 it became an event in the inaugural World Sports Car Championship along with the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and other iconic sports car races. 

The 1959 Formula 1 US Grand Prix was held at Sebring as well, but only for one year due to the relative remoteness of the track. 

The original track was 5.2 miles long and has slowly shrunk to the current 3.7 mile long configuration. Because the track is built on an airport that is still used today, many of these changes were done to open runways and allow planes to takeoff normally while the race was in session. 

The race still uses portions of the original layout that are built from large concrete slabs. The these slabs' seams cause rough transitions  from one slab to another, which makes one of the roughest courses in sports car racing. This roughness makes Sebring incredibly hard on cars and can cause significant attrition in the race. 

The original course extensively used the concrete runways from the airport as racetrack. This led to the cars running flat out down to the the runways during large portions of the race. It used the asphalt taxi ways for the rest of the course. 

In the history of the race Porsche has the most overall wins with 18, and Ferrari won 12 times. Peugeot won in 2010 and 2011. Having won the race five times Tom Kristensen is the driver with the most wins. Kristensen is driving the #2 Audi this year. 

To celebrate the race's 60th birthday, Sebring has put together a series of videos with historic videos of the race. The first three of these covering the 50s, 60s and 70s are already on the American Le Mans Youtube web site, and they are posted below. The videos go year-by-year mentioning the winning cars and showing vintage footage. 

908 HDi FAP908 HDi FAP
336 cu in
Top Speed
Maximum power
700 hp
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost




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