Portfolio Naples March 2017 - Page 70

with a cast due to a broken ankle) took the lead in their Porsche 908. e Ferrari team placed andretti in the last remain- ing factory entry with a chance to win. in the final minutes, he was able to pass the Porsche, but then pulled into the pits. e crowd was in disbelief as it looked as if McQueen and revson might win after all. But andretti only need a splash of fuel and returned to the circuit to take the victory by 22 seconds. Sebring would have its share of ups and downs during the 1970s, but it never lost its following of loyal fans. Even e late 1980s and early 1990s proved to be another great era for Sebring as the iMSa camel gt series reached the pin- nacle of sports car racing. Porsche 962, nissan gtP and toyota Eagle all won races during this period. after several different owners and the end of the World Sports car era domi- nated by american race car builders riley & Scott and the Ferrari, the biggest change yet came to Sebring when entrepreneur don Panoz pur- chased the circuit after the 1998 race. Panoz constructed a new pit structure, a when the race was cancelled in 1974 due to the fuel crisis, thousands of fans showed up anyway! Sebring experienced the first of many changes to the circuit in 1983, when large segments of the airport runways were eliminated. another major revision after the 1986 race essentially made Sebring a permanent circuit for the first time, totally separate from the adjoining airport. e 1983 race will be remembered as one of the wildest endurance races ever, producing an incredible upset. a gt class Porsche 934 (the same 935 chassis that finished second at le Mans in 1979, but completely rebuilt as a 934) driven by Wayne Baker, jim Mullen and kees nierop claimed victory in the final min- utes. not even qualifying in the top 12, and falling as far as 10 laps behind, they took advantage of incredible attrition to record the stunning victory. When cross- ing the finish line, Baker had no idea he had won overall! hotel at the famous hairpin turn, and made many other improvements, yet he kept the character of Sebring intact. e circuit itself remained as tough as ever, with the original concrete surface of hendricks Field still making up a por- tion of the track. e year 1999 marked the beginning of the american le Mans Series, boosting Sebring’s international stature and attract- ing the amazing BMW V12 lMr, the audi r8, r10 and r15, all of which record their maiden wins at the 12 hours. turn the clock ahead to 2017, and Sebring heads into its 65th anniversary race bigger and better than ever. now part of the iMSa Weathertech cham- pionship, the 2017 Mobil 1 twelve hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida will feature the largest partici- pation of major automotive manufac- turers in the 65-year history of america’s greatest endurance racing tra- dition. Both Prototype and gt classes 68 PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE will see an abundance of new cars and several new manufacturers, including lexus, Mercedes Benz, acura and cadillac. a total of 45-50 cars should be on the starting grid, with at least 14 manufacturers represented. When the gates open on Wednesday, March 15th, thousands of fans (many waiting over three weeks) will be in line to enter the famous track. e 65th 12- hour race starts at 10:40 am on Satur- day, March 18th. With thousands of fans in attendance and a world-wide broadcast audience, Sebring will again be the center of the motorsports world this March! But remember Sebring isn’t just about the famous once-around-the-clock race held every March. in addition to the fa- mous enduro, Sebring’s 3.74-mile circuit is utilized over 300 days a year for test- ing, club events and other activities. you can literally feel the history when you drive through the front gates!