58th Mobil 1 ~ 12 Hours of Sebring
by GREG ALECK – FASTLINES PRODUCTIONS
The 12 Hours of Sebring goes back to 1952, so the 58th running of the once around the clock endurance event, the SVRA first joined the world renowned event in 1977, except for a few years in between, it’s been involved ever since. After this 30th anniversary as a support race, this featured beautiful weather from start to finish, a first in recent memory.
A session each for practice & qualifying for the Historic & Vintage groups highlighted Wednesday’s actives, with Thursday the first day for races and the “mock” Technical inspection as well as the “Taste of Sebring” Festival at the circle in downtown Sebring.
Thursday dawned sunny, warm with clear skies as the cars headed off for downtown behind a police escort and the “Taste of Sebring” Festival. The crowds were waiting for us when we got there, they asked questions about the cars and drivers, every enjoyed the weather the company and the great food.
Back at the track it was time to get serious with both the Historic & Vintage groups preparing for the first SVRA race of the year, the 1-Hour Mike Stott~UBS Financial Enduro.
With a field 72 Historic & Vintage cars the taking to the 3.740 -mile Sebring International Raceway shortly after 5 pm, the 1-Hour Mike Stott~UBS Financial Enduro, was set to be a fight.
The mixture of production based and full blown racecars led to great show for the crowds with the No. 163, Mazda-Argo JM19C of Ralph Thomas & Art Woodman leading from the pole and running up front for most of the day, until they were penalized 2 minutes which dropped them down to 4th place at the checker.
As the 1-Hour enduro came to a close it was the No. 4, ’99 Corvette-ZO6 of Henry Gilbert that took the checker 42.415 sec’s ahead of the No. 90, of Jeff Bernatovich driving a Corvette Coupe. Rounding out the top-three was the No. 19, ’88 Mazda-Argo JM19C of Baughman & Domeck; all of the top-5 were on the same lap at the checker.
Friday was another beautiful day with the Optima Battery Sprint Series races for both the Vintage & Historic races, closing out the day’s activities.
Shortly after 4 pm, the 30-minute Optima Battery Sprint Series Vintage race
Pre-1969 spec cars took the track with 34 cars taking the green.
The top-three in the 7-lap Vintage race was made up of a group ‘60 era Detroit Iron. Dennis Olthoff, driving a ‘66( build in ‘05) Ford GT40 Mk II, No. 12 took the checker with a pair of ’69 Camaro Z/28’s, driven by Sam Viviano, No. 9 in second, while Richard Lind came home in third driving the No. 78.
Next on tap the 30-minute Historic Optima Battery Sprint Series race for Post-1970 spec cars, this featured mostly production based cars with a small group of Sports racers mixed in.
As the sun slipped lower in the sky, a group of 26 cars took to the track for the final “race’ of the 12-hrs weekend.
With many of the cars in this final race also competing in the previous days 1-Hour Mike Stott~UBS Financial Enduro, no wonder that the top-5 was made up of three of the top -5 from the Enduro.
At the checker it was Kenny Bupp, in his No. 8 Camaro crossing the finish line a scant 0.112 sec’s ahead of Jeff Bernatovich, No. 90, Corvette Coupe, while it was the Mike Stott UBS Financial Enduro winner the No. 4, ’99 Corvette-ZO6 of Henry Gilbert claiming the third spot at the checker.
With the races in the books all that was remaining of the weekend schedule was Saturday’s exhibition laps and noon’s annually SVRA’s BBQ held in the paddock.
Some of the cars included in the exhibition laps ranged from Bill Treffert’s, No.189, ’61 MGA to Steve Coleman’s, unusual No 169, ’69 AH Sprite Prototype roadster and the Ritter-Hinton, ’69 Lola T70 Mk IIIb, just to name a few. I always thought that the Saturday morning before the 12-Hrs was a great time for the competitors to show the fans many of the former cars that competed in the past Sebring 12-Hrs.
With all that’s remaining is the eating everyone gather in the SVRA’ paddock for a great lunch of BBQ with all the fixings; with the sounds of the 2010 Sebring 12-Hrs as the musically background.
Join us at round two of the 2010 SVRA season, for the Savannah Spring Races at Roebling Road Raceway April 8-11, 2010, featuring the OPTIMA Sprint Series Races & Mike Stott/UBS Enduro Series. Hope to see you there!