Sebring International Raceway
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Sebring International Raceway!
Sebring raceway occupies the site of Hendricks Army Airfield, a United States Army Air Forces training base for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress pilots in operation from 1941 to 1946. After the war, aeronautical engineer Alec Ulmann was seeking sites for converting military aircraft to civilian use when he discovered potential in Hendricks' runways to stage a sports car endurance race similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sebring's first race was held on New Year's Eve of 1950, attracting thirty 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 Victor Sharpe.
The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952, shortly growing into a major international race. In 1959, the track hosted the U.S.' first Formula One race (the successor to historic European Grand Prix motor racing), held as that year's installment of the historic United States Grand Prix competition. However poor attendance and high costs relocated the next U.S. Grand Prix to Riverside International Raceway in Southern California.
For much of Sebring's history, the track followed a 5.2 miles (8.4 km) layout. After a disastrous 1966 12 Hours where 5 people were killed, the track was widened and lengthened 50 yards for the 1967 race 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. Another dangerous section was the Warehouse straight, where the organizers installed a chicane to move the track away from the warehouses and buildings after a crash where a Porsche went into one of the warehouses and into a crowd.[when?]
In 1983 the circuit was changed to allow simultaneous use of the track and one of the runways. In 1987 more changes 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. In 1997, the hairpin was removed due to a lack of run-off, and replaced with what became known as the "safety pin". Gendebien Bend was also re-profiled to slow the cars' entry to the Ullman straight.
Final Hours of Sebring 2011
The track is currently owned by IMSA Holdings, LLC through its subsidiary Sebring International Raceway, LLC via its purchase of the Panoz MSG in September 2012. It is currently leased by the Sebring International Raceway, LLC, which acquired the facility from Andy Evans in 1997.
The track is often recognized for its famous, high-speed "Turn 17", a long, bumpy, fast right hander that can make or break a car's speed down the front straight. The corner can fit up to 3 cars wide.
Skip Barber Racing School holds numerous programs at the facility, including a scholarship opportunity for young racers.
Article Credit: Wikipedia