Sebring, Fla.—The third of four days of the Historic Sportscar Racing Sebring event opened Saturday with the final round of qualifying, and then progressed into non-stop racing around the 3.54-mile, 17-turn circuit.
The event started Thursday with testing and practice; Friday saw several qualifying sessions of the various classes, as well as the International/American Challenge race and the Night Race.
Saturday was given over to qualifying and racing and Sunday will be competition all day, finishing with the crown jewel of the event, the Four Hours of Sebring historic endurance race.
Tickets are still available at the Sebring International Raceway box office (sebringraceway.com) or the HSR website. There is no better way to spend a Sunday than out in the sun at the side of the track, watching some of the best racing cars ever built being driven flat-out around an historic circuit.
An added attraction Saturday was a drivers’ round table with racing legends David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Jim Pace, Dorsey Schroeder, Roger Mandeville, Brian Johnson, David White Sr., Jochen Mass, and Jim Pace sharing stories from their rich racing histories at Sebring throughout the past several decades. Included in the price of admission, this forum was worth the cost of a day’s ticket itself.
The first race of the day was the Vintage/Classic GT Enduro, a one-hour race with one mandatory pit stop featuring historic GT machinery including a 1963 Lotus 23b, a 1964 Jaguar XKE 4.2, a 1970 Royale RP4 sports racer, several BMWs and a couple dozen Porsches ranging from a 1965 911 to 1994 964 to a 2006 Boxster. A pair of Datsun 240Zs, a 1995 Mustang Cobra, a 1196 Toyota WSR prototype, and a 1992 Mazda Miata rounded out the 41-car field.
With so many cars on track, with such a wide range of performance capabilities and characteristics, there was overtaking everywhere on the track,
Father and son team of Bruce and Cody Ellsworth won the overall in their #1 1973 2.8 liter Porsche 911 RSR. Brian Johnson, lead singer for the rock group AC/DC and a dedicated racer (he drove in the 2012 Rolex 24) and co-driver Scott Pfeil won the Vintage class in the 1600 cc Royale, and Angus Rogers finished first in the Boxster class.
Next up was the Historic/GTP/WSC/DP Enduro; basically a louder, faster version of the GT race with more exotic cars.
Here Travis Engen in his all-conquering #2 2005 Audi R8 finally met his match; David Porter’s #18 2007 Pescarolo Judd proved faster. Third was the 1993 Kudzu-Mazda of Dennis Spencer and Rich Grupp. Spencer and Grupp won the P5 class, Jamison France and Joao Barbosa won W4 in their #54 2005 Chevy-powered Daytona Prototype. Jack McCarthy and Tom Kimber-Smith in their Caterham SP300 won W4.
With more than a dozen classes represented in the fifty-car field, traffic was occasionally an issue, but action was not. The field featured Lolas, Radicals, Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, a Chevron, a Pilbeam (Brian Johnson again,) an Argo and a Dodge Viper. Power, speed, absolutely gorgeous cars, and all those different engine notes blended together to make this one of the best races of the day.
Not the last race, though; there were still half-a-dozen heat races scheduled for the afternoon. Too many winners in too many classes to list them, but as always at HSR events, the cars were fantastic and the racing was fervent. The Group 8/9 Historic Stock Car and Historic GT race was particularly hard-fought; at just one corner, Turn Seven, several cars went off, some with a little help from the competition.
That’s the appeal of HSR events: owners show up with cars that many motorsports fans remember from childhood, cars many have read about and dreamed of fro decades. Then the owners (or their hired guns) go out and drive these vintage jewels as though they were back in the day, with trailers full of spares and back-up chassis.
These are racing cars, designed and built to be pushed hard. At HSR events, these cars are driven the way they were meant to be driven. There is no other way to fully appreciate these machines than to see them in action, and HSR offers exactly that.
Get out Sunday and see for yourself.