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12 Hours of Sebring Facts

19 March 1999

Sebring, FL-March 18, 1999

The 12 Hours of Sebring is celebrating the 47th year of racing. A lot of history has been compiled over the years.

Did you know that?:

  • The first race was held on December 30, 1950 and was called the Sam Collier 6 Hour Memorial Race.
  • The first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952
  • Juan Manuel Fangio drives a Ferrari to victory in 1956 and follows-up that feat with a victory in 1957.
  • Sebring hosted the first ever Formula One race in the US in December 1959. The following year the race traveled to Riverside, CA
  • 1969 was the last year that the "Le Mans Start" (drivers used to run to their cars).
  • *1970 Mario Andretti drives a Ferrari to victory in the #20 Ferrari 512S after starting the race in the pole-sitting #19 Ferrari 512S. The victory was the closest ever recorded at Sebring. The Porsche 908 driven by actor/driver Steve McQueen and Peter Revson finished just 23 seconds behind Andretti. Revson, actually did most of the driving since McQueen was recovering with a broken leg suffered while filming the movie "The Great Escape."
  • *1973 marks the beginning of a new sanctioning body called IMSA (International Motorsports Association) started by John Bishop.
  • *1976-Porsche wins it's first of 13 consecutive races.
  • *A.J.Foyt scores his first-ever victory at Sebring in 1985.
  • *1989 Nissan ends Porsche's domination of the 12 Hours of Sebring.
  • *1991 Nissan makes it three years in a row. (1989, 1990, 1991)
  • *1994 marks the beginning of the World Sports Car era
  • *1998-The 12 Hour Classic is just that...A record 23 lead changes occur as the Momo Ferrari finally defeats the Panoz. The victory means that Gianpierro Moretti wins the 36 hours of Florida (Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hour).
  • *Hurley Haywood is the all-time leader in number of races started with 26.
  • *The fastest qualifying speed ever recorded was set by Whitney Ganz in a Buick March. His time was 133.134mph.
  • *The fastest race average was set by the trio of Bob Akin/Hans Stuck and Jo Gartner in a Porsche 962 with a speed of 115.82 mph in 1986.
  • *Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Olivier Gendebien and Hans Stuck share the record of three overall wins at Sebring.
  • *Porsche holds the record with 17 victories. Ferrari follows closely behind with 12. Next in line Nissan with 4.
  • *There have been eight changes to the race course in the 49 years since the first race was held. The original course was 5.2 miles long. The length of the course was often known for driver's getting lost in the dark. Mario Andretti summed it up at best when describing driving at Sebring at night...."You need a compass and a seeing-eye dog."

David Treffer-The Auto Channel