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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Sebring International Raceway - 12 Hours of Sebring




Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Sebring International Raceway 113 Midway Dr Sebring, FL 33870



Year Opened: 1950

 

Central Florida Speed Fest

The historic Sebring 12-Hour sportscar race began in 1950 and has grown into one of the world’s most revered motorsports events during its long history. The world’s best drivers and teams have competed and won here, and every year seems to up the quality of the product on the track. If you are even a modest race fan, Sebring is a must-see for you. However, unlike Florida’s other historic endurance event (The Rolex 24 at Daytona), this event has some notable deficiencies.

Food & Beverage 5

There is no shortage of food vendors around the track at Sebring. From the main paddock and the ever-popular Track Shack (get The Beast…it is probably the best item you can eat at the track and is only known on the secret menu at Sebring) to the various drink and snack stops around the track, you never have to go too far to get something to quench your thirst or ease the pain of hunger. The cost of everything is also what one may consider being moderately fair, as food and snack items range from just a few dollars to $12-$14 for bigger items at the Snack Shack. For fans in the far reaches of the track (Ulman Straight and Green Park in particular), you have a bit of a hike to get to the fan zone or paddock for said food items.


Atmosphere 4

Nothing compares to Sebring – words are barely able to even describe it either. This is one giant party for everyone who attends; some wild stories can be told of the goings-on at Green Park (the infield area on the north side of the track), and perhaps it may be best to keep the young ones away from that part of the course at night.


This track however has something for everyone – between the main show on Saturday with the 12-hour endurance spectacle to the various support series races during the weekend, there is no shortage of things for you to see. The energy is always at a high level all day long, and the raceway makes sure to keep you updated on what is coming up next on the track throughout the day on the PA system, which makes it nice for fans who may not have the schedule in their pockets.



However, as much of a party and historic event the 12 Hours may be, the facility itself has some massive upgrades needed. While the tacky and overly gratuitous bikini contest is long gone from the infield, improvements remain needed. For example, almost all of the roads through Green Park and trackside are dirt, meaning the dust gets really heavy at times. The restrooms around the facility are also beyond abysmal, featuring moldy troughs in the men’s rooms, as well as bugs galore with no AC to speak of. Grandstands have been added at various corners but are no less limited, and viewing of the front stretch and finish line is extremely limited, with no good angles to be had for fans outside of the paddock suites.


Neighborhood 3

There isn’t exactly anything around Sebring International Raceway, as it is quite literally located in the middle of nowhere. Sebring itself is a town located in the middle of Florida, at least an hour and a half drive away from the nearest major city or population center. Thus, while the town of Sebring itself may have some shopping and dining as well as a few hotels, you are likely better off camping at the track and staying there the whole weekend.


Fans 4

The fans at Sebring are impressive in several ways; not only are they very sport knowledgeable, but they know how to decorate their campsites. Some have gone as far as erecting large scaffolding at their sites to get a better view of the action, while others prefer a ground-level chair next to a campfire.



There are even make-shift bars that pop up around the facility, which are fully operational and open to anyone who wants to come visit. The majority of these fans have been coming to the race for years, introduced by their parents to the event, and are now passing it on to their kids.


However, make no mistake – some aspects of this race-themed party are not family-friendly. If you bring anyone under 18, it is probably best to stay in the midway and paddock areas of the track, especially after dark. Green Park has long been home to numerous stories of unspeakable events, including what has become the traditional bonfire of burning couches on the inside of the hairpin after the races are over. Many drunk fans can be found all over the property, and are known even to take water guns to members of the media as the latter drive by on golf carts.


Access 4

The roads in and out of Sebring aren’t exactly major highways, with the biggest road being US-27 running towards Miami to the South and Orlando to the North. There is plenty of parking at the track, however, and trams help take you from parking lots farther away from the main grandstands and paddock to points of interest around the track. Improvements on the inward flow of traffic have been made as well, using specific gates for specific access purposes (media and crew use separate gates from fans, etc.).


You never feel like you are too far from anywhere either, as there are several perfectly placed crossover bridges around the track to get you to points of interest throughout the weekend. Any fan can also come down to the paddock and get up close to the stars and cars of the IMSA series who are in attendance.


Return on Investment 4

There is nothing like Sebring – a weekend ticket gets you into all the action Wednesday through Saturday, and you can come and go as you please. In addition, the action you are witnessing is of historic significance merely by the stature of the race, and you can feel that pressure in the air mounting as the weekend rolls along. Ticket prices can soar over $100 a person, but what you are getting is one of the greatest races on the planet, with one of the best race day experiences in the business. The best deal lies in the Super VIP ticket at the Seven Hotel; for $395 fans get a 4-day ticket, parking pass at the hotel, food and drink buffets, access to the hotel viewing mound of Turn 7, and an air conditioned VIP room on Saturday with an open bar and TVs.



Extras 4

Taking in the race at Sebring has its perks for fans, with various autograph sessions held throughout the race weekend. In addition, fans also have the opportunity to get into the paddock area of the track free of charge, giving you an up-close view of the teams as they prepare for one of the biggest races of the year.


Porsche, Lamborghini, and Corvette drivers can get special parking access in the Porsche and Corvette corrals, and can even do guided laps around the track. Also, before the main event on Saturday, all the teams bring their cars out to pit road before the race starts, and fans can come to see the cars and drivers up close before they head out onto the track.


After each race, the victory celebration is held in the new victory lane complex at the track, giving fans access to an area of the track that was previously farther away on pit road.


Final Thoughts

Thinking about visiting a sports facility of great historic value with incredibly exciting action for you to see during the entire event? Look no further than the Sebring 12 Hours. This historic race has it all, and you get to experience one of the biggest parties of the year. It is hard to put into words what a weekend at Sebring feels like, but as the sun sets each day and the roar of engines fills the air, you can understand why this has become one of the biggest draws in all of sports, let alone racing.


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