SEBRING — What could be better for a race fan than 12 hours of racing? How about 20 hours over the course of two races and two days at Sebring International Raceway? That’s just what happened at the historic weekend dubbed “Super Sebring.”
Super Sebring combined the World Endurance Championship 1000 miles of Sebring (or eight hours) and the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. The WEC race took place on Friday.
Toyota Gazoo Racing was the WEC favorite going into the weekend. Sebring International Raceway President and General Manager Wayne Estes predicted the team would set track records for speed. Toyota delivered. In pre-race testing last weekend, Toyota began breaking unofficial records.
By the end of the 1000 Miles of Sebring, Toyota Gazoo Racing set qualifying records and race lap records.
Race fans were enjoying their double dose of speed on Saturday morning as drivers heard the famous call of “gentlemen, start your engines.” The weather conditions for Saturday’s 12 hours were less than ideal with rain creating puddles on the track. Opening ceremonies were patriotic and drivers were celebrated with fireworks.
The wet weather did not stop fans from watching their favorite sport. Instead of strolling the grounds, they huddled under stands to stay dry. Umbrellas, ponchos and hats were top sellers. Fans wearing ponchos still lined the track to watch the cars speed by.
Drivers took off under a yellow caution flag. After several laps, fireworks were sent up to signal the change to a green flag. That’s when the speed picked up and the water was really flying off the cars’ back ends.
Christina Campbell was impressed with the WEC races that she watched on Friday. She was also thrilled to witness the 12 hours. The experience was especially memorable as she had never been to the races before.
“I thought the WEC was really interesting,” she said. “This is the first time I have ever been here. It was great to walk around and see all the drivers. I got to talk to many of them. The drivers were very welcoming to the fans. The cars are very exciting in both races.”
Campbell is looking forward to the possibility when WEC racing will be an annual addition to the 12 hours weekend. In a previous interview, Estes predicted the WEC is likely to return annually; no doubt race fans are hoping that prediction is as good as his Toyota prediction was.
Hisatake Murata, Toyota Team president released the following statement about the Super Sebring experience:
“I am very pleased that Toyota Gazoo Racing and our TS050 HYBRID is the first winner of the 1000 Miles of Sebring. Our visit to Sebring has been challenging but successful. Everyone in the team adjusted very well to the different requirements here and pushed really hard to achieve this result. Thanks to them and also a big thank you to the fans here in Florida; they have made our first visit here really special with their passion for endurance racing and their warm welcome.”