Sebring International Raceway is known for having the most devoted fans of any motorsports event in North America. For seven decades the legendary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts has marked the beginning of spring for thousands of fans. With the smell of orange blossoms in the air and the sound of the world’s best sports cars reaching speeds close to 200 mph, Sebring is truly a unique experience.
Thousands of fans make their annual pilgrimage to Sebring from near and far, and with a line of fans with their motorhomes and trailers already formed outside the Raceway, with plans of securing their favorite viewing spots on March 18, SuperSebring 2020 will prove to be another epic event.
Many families plan their entire year around the legendary motorsports event often called “The Woodstock of Auto Racing.” This year the 68th 12-Hour Classic runs on Saturday, March 21, preceded by the March 20 FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring, giving Sebring a unique doubleheader format. But there’s more – two races run on Thursday, the Alan Jay Automotive Networks 120 Michelin Pilot Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge.
Never been to Sebring? Here’s a brief primer to get you ready:
First things first - where is Sebring? Sebring International Raceway is in Highlands County, north of Lake Okeechobee, just off Highway 98, about two miles east of US 27. Sebring is less than a two-hour drive from Orlando, the Tampa Bay area, the Palm Beaches and most other metro areas of central and south Florida. The track is located adjacent to Sebring Regional Airport, only six miles from Historic Downtown Sebring.
The raceway started life back in 1941 as a World War II B-17 combat crew training base known as Hendricks Field. After the war ended, the military turned the facility back over to the City of Sebring. In 1950 it hosted its first race, and in March 1952 the first 12-hour race was held.
Sebring is like no other racing circuit you will ever see. It measures 3.74-miles and has 17-turns (second longest major road course in North America). Its surface is both asphalt and original Hendricks Field concrete, known for its notorious bumps that have been testing cars and drivers for seven decades.
As you enter the front gates, the entrance road leads you to The Midway, which is the raceway’s “Main Street” and the hub of activity. Many of the merchandise and food vendors are located in this area, as are manufacturer displays and souvenir vendors.
You will notice on your left as you enter the track the 123-room Seven Hotel overlooking the famous Hairpin turn (Turn 7, hence the name). Good luck getting a room there- it is the primo place to stay for the races!
On your right you will see the pit building. The second level includes corporate suites, Club Sebring (Sebring’s most exclusive ticket for fans) and viewing terraces. The third and fourth floors of the tower are used by race officials and broadcasters. Behind the pit structure is the paddock, where the race teams are located.
Event merchandise and great IMSA-branded gear is available from large merchandise tents located on the Midway and in Alan Jay Paddock. Tees shirts, hats, colored shirts and novelties branded with 2020 SuperSebring and Mobil 1 Twelve Hour marks can be purchased through the event weekend. Event programs, posters and merchandise are the best way to commemorate a weekend at Sebring.
Like most North American road racing tracks, there are not a lot of grandstands. Fans generally like to walk around and watch the action from the various turns. And of course, lots of motorhomes line the circuit. In fact, the raceway becomes a sea of motorhomes and other vehicles as a large portion of fans stay at the track the entire four days.
The 348-acre facility has virtually no elevation changes, thus viewing mounds have been added at various locations to give spectators an elevated view. There’s not a lot of shade, so always bring sunscreen and some walking shoes! And folding lawn chairs aren’t a bad idea either. Grandstands are located at Turn 3 and at the Hairpin, two very exciting areas to watch the race.
Sebring does not have garages- all the race teams set up adjacent to their transporters and create their own temporary garage. All Sebring fans have access to this area, making Sebring one of the most accessible and fan friendly tracks. You can’t get any closer to the action than at Sebring.
The Green Park section of the track is famous for partying, a tradition established over 50 years ago - keep in mind Sebring usually coincides with college spring break. The fans are part of the spectacle at Sebring, and you’ll see dozens of themed campsites, many of them with eclectic décor and plenty of food and beverages.
Despite the party atmosphere, Sebring is also home to some of the most serious road racing fans you’ll ever meet. Car corrals for various manufacturers such as Porsche and Chevrolet Corvette allow enthusiasts to gather and celebrate their favorite marques successes at the most important endurance race of the year in North America.
Another great aspect of Sebring is the family atmosphere. Children 12 and under are admitted free, and autograph sessions held during race week allow them to get meet the drivers and get signed photos.
Since parking is often near capacity, it’s good to know there is free parking at Gate 4. Tram service is available from there, although it’s an easy walk.
Sports car racing can be challenging for new fans to keep up with due to the multi-class structure of the sport, but there are several ways to follow the action. Spotter’s guides are handed out at the front gate and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) has an app which includes a scoring feature so you can see the standings at any given type. The race cars also have a unique system where their position is displayed in LED lights on the side of the car!
One of the most thrilling aspects of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is that the final three hours are run in total darkness. Night racing is truly an amazing experience. You’ll be hooked!
There’s always a lot going on at Sebring International Raceway off the track as well; live entertainment at the Party Zone, an Esports Zone, vintage racecar display, pre-race Grid Walks and fireworks after the race.
Tickets to Sebring are available as four-day, two-day (Friday & Saturday), and Saturday-only. For those who wish to experience Sebring’s premium hospitality locations, there is Club Sebring (sorry, sold out for 2020) and the Celebrity Cruise Line Luxury Lounge (only a few tickets remain available). Please contact one of our ticketing customer service experts for more information by calling 800.626.7223.
A few other things to remember – at Sebring, racing runs rain or shine (unless there is lightning, of course), so be prepared for a variety of conditions. You are welcome to bring your own food and beverages, although we have a variety of food vendors for your convenience. And most important, our track President Wayne Estes requires EVERYONE have fun!
And before or after you visit Sebring International Raceway there are plenty of things to do and see in Highlands County. Highlands Hammock State Park and Historic Downtown Sebring are just two of the many attractions in this area known for great golf, fishing and biking.
For more information about Sebring International Raceway and its events, visit sebringraceway.com or call 800-626-RACE (7223).