Sunday, February 9, 2014

Photo-of-the-Week #145, Off To The Races, Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida, January 2014

 Here we are, already for the trial runs with My McVansion at the Sebring International Raceway. I'm going to see if I can beat the fastest lap time of 1minute, 43.886 seconds on the 3.74 mile course set by an Audi in 2013. My McVansion with its massive 5.0 liter V8 engine is up for the task . . . NOT!

Well, the reality is, this is indeed a photo of My McVansion in front of the world famous Sebring International Raceway. The history of the racetrack is very interesting and if you have further interest, you can look it up on Wikipedia and get more details. It began and hosted its first six hour race in 1950 making it one of the older continually operating auto racetracks in the U.S. It began the internationally famous 12 hour endurance race series in 1952 and attracts cars from some of the famous sports car manufacturers in the world along with drivers from around the globe. The course was much longer in the earlier years, beginning at 5.38 miles and included as part of the course major sections of the runway of what had formerly been a World War II B-17 bomber pilot training air base. Over the years the airfield became a more active airport and needed more of the runways, so the track was modified until it reached its current 3.74 miles with 17 turns and curves and many rough sections of asphalt or concrete (left over WWII runway).

The photo above is in front of the main gate and if you look to the right behind the van, you can see part of the main viewing stand. There is no limitation to the number of spectators who can attend and there are viewing points throughout the course. When I looked over the flags of the countries and cars that have won the races over the years, I have to say I was disappointed to find that it's been almost two decades since the U.S. had a winner and even at that, there were have only been six American wins (mainly Fords) compared to the Europeans predominated by Audi. I wonder if there is a message in that for the U.S., obviously not #1 in everything and automotive technology appears to be one of the things.

The actual Le Mans style race occurs once a year and overall is about a week of activity. The rest of the year there are race driver schools held on the track and a variety of lesser known and shorter races of various kinds. But the 12 Hour Endurance American Le Mans is the biggy. The track is several miles from the delightful town of Sebring. According to my friend, Gary Pinnell, a reporter for the Sebring daily newspaper, Highland Today, the race and raceway apparently aren't really all that important to the local residents. It helps the local economy a bit when the big race is "in town," but other than that, I guess it's just "business as usual" for the locals.  

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