Sebring International Raceway is one of the oldest constantly used tracks in the country, set on the unused runways and support roads for the airport. The first races were in the early 1950s with the famed 12 Hours of Sebring sports car race. Currently, there are three track configurations; the 12 Hour Grand Prix Course, the Old Club Course, and the New Club Course.
Major portions of this page were contributed by Mike "doc" Cobine. The hot lap was revised in early 2005 by Chris Ingle.
Last Updated: 2007-06-02
The first sports car race at Sebring was on December 31st, 1950 on a 3.5 mile course. The track is the site of the 12 Hours of Sebring Grand Prix Endurance Race that began in the early 1950s. Many famed drivers have driven here; some gaining their fame here, some lending their fame to this circuit in its early years. While the 12 Hours of Sebring is the most famous, this track is also the site of the very first Trans Am race, held as a support race before the 12 Hours on March 25th, 1966. This track originally had a length of 5.2 miles that incorporated many airport runways, which created many humorous stories of cars chasing airplanes and such at night. This circuit was used from March 15th, 1952 through 1986. On December 12th, 1959 the first US GP was held on the 5.2 mile course, with a Formula Junior support race on a 2.2 mile course the same day. A 1.4 mile paved road course was introduced in the 70s which is still occasionally used.
The long course was shortened to about 4.86 miles in 1984 and shortened again in 1986 to about 4.11 miles. The current suite of courses (beginning 1991) are 3.7, 2.0, 1.6 and 1.4 miles in length. The course changes since 1986 have generally been to increase safety by putting distance between active runways and the cars and to permit access to some warehouses so the track could operate throughout the year without having to close warehouse access.
A 1/4 mile dragstrip operated in 1956 under the name Sebring International Dragway. A 1/8 mile dragstrip operated here from June 17th, 1992 through October 1999.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 11,19,208. Order from National Speedway Directory|
The track is owned and operated by Sebring Airport Authority, Sebring, Florida.
Sebring International Raceway
113 Midway Drive
Sebring, Florida 33870
This map is a pdf showing a relatively current 3.7 mile circuit.
This map is of the 5.2 mile course used from 1952 thorugh
1966. The course used from 1967 to 1982 was nearly identical,
differing in that the warehouse straight was eliminated
from the course in favor of a parallel straight south of the warehouses.
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Sebring is an easy track to find, with an airport beacon there to help you find it. It is set on the airport just east of Sebring, a small town in central Florida, south of Orlando, on highway US 27.
You pass the lake on US 27 and will find a Checkers, McDonalds, and other fine eating establishments. Turn left at the traffic light by Checkers and proceed toward the center of town. At the second traffic light you will be by Winn Dixie, an old ice cream stand shaped like an ice cream cone, and the Kenilworth Hotel. Turn right and follow this roughly 5 miles until you come to the airport. It is quite obvious when you get there.
Take US 27 until you reach Hwy. 98. Go right (east) about 2 miles and watch for signs to the airport and the race track. Turn left and follow it past the animal shelter to the airport. Again, it becomes obvious.
Take Hwy. 98 through Spring Lake. Just past Spring Lake, you will see the airport in the distance to your right. A sign to the race track is next and you turn right. It is still quite obvious.
[Note: the following section is about 10 years old, and discusses construction that was in process back then. Hopefully an update will be coming shortly, but since some of this may still be useful, I'm preserving it for the moment.]
You pass through the huge gate used as the ticket booths for the 12 Hours of Sebring. On your right is a trailer set far back from the other buildings. This is race registration. Go there first on race days. If you do a test day, you'll need to go over to the Chateau Elan and register.
If you are running the 12 Hour course or the Old Club course, you will veer to the right and drive over the bridge. The guard will stop you first so have your credentials.
If you are running the New Club course, keep going straight towards the blue hanger and make a left. You have to, the road turns. Angle back as you will drive either next to or over the drive over bridge. The guard will stop you first so have your credentials.
Impound for the New Club Course is located in the tech area where the scales are, right behind the pits. As you exit the pits into the paddock at the end of a race, you are directed into impound.
Tech for the New Club Course is located right behind the pits, east of the stewards trailer.
For the 12 Hour Grand Prix Course and the Old Club Course, the Tech and Scales are located near the Pit In entrance. You will pass it coming in over the bridge.
The False Grid for the New Club Course is on the roadway leading to the pit entrance and Turns 1 and 2 just west of the stewards trailer.
For the 12 Hour Grand Prix Course and the Old Club Course, the False Grid is located in the East end of the Paddock near Pit Out. Occasionally, it is near the Scales, so check your Supps.
Timing and Scoring for the New Club Course is located in the trailer right behind the start finish line between the Hairpin and turn 1.
For the 12 Hour Grand Prix Course and the Old Club Course, the Timing and Scoring is located near the driveover bridge.
Hopefully, you won't have to go here, but the Stewards' Trailer for the New Club Course is near the entrance to the pits, next to the false grid. The drivers meetings are held here.
For the 12 Hour Grand Prix Course and the Old Club Course, the Stewards are located in the tower in the center of the garages.
Sound Control for the New Club Course takes its readings from the inside of the track just past the Timing and Scoring Trailer.
A hot lap of Sebring International Raceway (Long/12hr Course) submitted by Chris W. Ingle, 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion (in conjunction with an existing outdated write-up). You can get great in-car video of Sebring at http://www.tracktapes.com/ including both rain and dry runs.
Overall: The Grand Prix course uses both the old club course and the new club course. The track was formerly a World War II air base and is virtually all concrete. If you've ever ridden down an old southern concrete freeway, you'll know how it's going to feel - bump, bump, bump? Most of the curbs are extremely high except for the ones noted so only drive over them if you have a very compliant suspension. Most of the turns (especially 1, 17 and 18) are very bumpy so stay on the throttle thru them to settle the suspension and give the tires some more bite. It's a horsepower and braking track! The more you have of both, the higher you'll finish. All shift points and speeds are approximates from my fully T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06.
Leaving the pits, stay to drivers' right. Turn 1 is a fast, 4th gear left and the apex is much later than most imagine and spins normally occur going backwards into the outer wall. Turn 2 is a slight bend back to the right, where you leave runway concrete and enter racetrack pavement. Get back to the right to set up for a hard braking zone and a short, sharp left, turn 3. Heel-toe 4-3 and trail brake the entry.
Turn 3 is a standard 90 degree left, where you enter the area commonly known as the New Club Course. After that, there is a lazy bend to the right and starts what is a carousel-type turn. Get to the right before entry. Turn 4 is the flag station halfway through and at the exit. This is a fast corner, around 60 to 75 mph. It is flat and marbles are everywhere but on the line. Typically, most drivers apex turn 4 too early and run off the exit into the grass. Many will spin due to the speed trying to apex this late and trying to pull it back in. Watch out as this is a favorite place for cars to be erratic and cross the track several times attempting to regain control. More than one innocent driver has T-boned or been T-boned at this corner.
If bunched up, stay drivers' left in turn 4. You can hold the line better and the outside car may run off the track. It also prevents having the inside car hit you in the side. This also gives you a chance to apex the right hand bend turn 5, the uprights of the drive over bridge, and have lots of speed going into Big Bend, a very fast right hand sweeper. This is a fast section of the course. You will be flat out, easily 120+ mph if you can go that fast, and having a lot of side loads due to the corner.
Depending on your braking points, you will want to be drivers' left under the walkover bridge approaching the "Safety Pin." The old Hairpin was replaced years ago and the track shortened to incorporate the new safer version. You'll still be well over 100 mph here and you will drop to around 30 or less! Be sure your brakes work and you have lots of venting! The old Hairpin is now the escape road. Heel-toe downshift 4-3. You can try 2d if you get bogged down with traffic, but my experience does not show any gains when you're alone.
The Safety Pin bends back more than 120 degrees to the right so brake as much as possible before turning. Some Formula cars almost come to a stop on the left side before turning sharply while most Production based cars tend to trail brake some while turning less sharply at the end. Be sure to keep an eye on your right side as more than one driver attempts to pass inside and T-bones the others because his brakes won't hold. You can't track out now because of the new layout which leads you back onto the old track?and the gator curbing is rough. Apex late and get on the power as soon as possible.
Turns 7 and 8 form a right then left ess turn. Apex them normally. You should be able to shift to 4th while the car is stable either before or between the esses, and you should be able to take the slight curves flat out. If you're chasing someone and get a good run out of the Safety Pin, you can use the exit of 8 to set up a pass into the next right hand turn 9. A pass started in turn 7 may take until turn 9 to complete. Be careful though, turn 9 is sharp and the braking zone takes longer than you think because the brakes are still very hot from the last hard brake. Heel-toe 4-3 and trail brake the entry into 9, but try not to track out all the way to the left. This will help with the next series of turns.
Turn 10 is immediately after 9 and is an increasing apex left hander. If your car is set up right, you should be able to plant your right foot on the exit of 9 and keep it planted to the entry of 12. Once you turn thru 10, focus your eyes way up on the entry to 12 and control the oversteer thru 11. I stay in 3d gear all the way up to redline and DON'T worry about getting back left, parallel to the curbing entering 12. Just keep your foot planted and aim toward the turn-in point. Brake very hard in a straight line right to the turn in and trail brake the right-hander. 12 is deceptive - it looks tight, but there is a little camber gain at the apex and a lot of speed can be hand. For your first few efforts, begin with a later apex and gradually turn in earlier until you have to put your tires onto the outside curbing. Plant your foot as soon as possible for the fast run up to turn 15.
As you come out of 12, shift to 4th gear before the FIA curbing on the right to get set for the two ultra-quick left kinks - 13 and 14. I try to run my left tires over both of those curbs taking a late apex at 14. Carry lots of speed thru both these kinks and don't get too concerned with your exit position upon exiting 14. If you do it right you should be near the left side to set up for 15, but don't lose any sleep over it. After 14, get the car straight and stable and nail those brakes. Again, the zone is much longer than it looks due to the hot brakes and slick surface. Heel-toe 4 to 3.
Turn 15, a slow, right bender with a barrier wall on the right and open runway on the left. It's not necessarily a throw away, but don't sacrifice speed thru 14 for better speed in 15. It's a bit off camber and slick and there's just so fast you can go thru it anyway. Trail brake 14 to help the front tires bite and hit the apex at 15. Sacrifice speed thru 15 for proper car attitude and position into 16.
Once thru 15, get the car to the left for a good angle on the 90-degree right 16. Don't try to go too wide on the entry set up though because you don't want the momentum of the car heading too far left. This would make the turn in for 16 more difficult and spoil your speed down the long straight.
16 is a tight corner with very severe curbing on the inside and out. Unless your car is very compliant, avoid all but the small area closest to the actual racing surface. Only go way wide to save a bad situation. Plant your foot as early as possible, shift 3-4 and fly down the straight. Check your gauges and let the brakes breathe.
For the 180-degree right turn - 17 and 18 combination, there are as many different lines as there are drivers. You'll have to experiment with different ones until you find the sweet spot. The line I like is to use 2 braking zones into 17. I brake moderately hard while still going straight, then turn in slightly and brake hard; heel toe shift 4-3. Stay much farther left approaching turn 17 and apex late and you will have a better time. What you want to be able to do is get on the throttle sooner than your competitor to have a faster exit speed at 18 and down the straight. It's very bumpy thru this complex and it helps to have very good shocks here. I normally try to apex 18 right where the entry to the pit lane begins. There's normally a cone there and a good apex reference point.
When it rains hard, this area floods, especially under the bridge. Also, since the straight is so long, more than one car has overcooked brakes and crashed into the outside wall. It is more typical to hit the left wall under the bridge. Watch for those who come up the right side as they will no doubt visit the left wall. Turn 18 is right at Pit In and you'll want to apex this late. Your trackout point should be right next to the left wall just past the walkover bridge supports. Due to the walls from turn 16 to turn 1, sometimes cars can park themselves in the wall and not be visible. Watch the flags and believe them.
Fly down the front straight, shift 3-4 and set your sights for the turn-in point for #1. Pick a point along the right line of cones which separates the pit out area and the actual racing surface. Brake very late and very hard and lightly trail brake the entry. I stay in 4th gear, stay on an ever increasing throttle thru the corner and apex as close to the left wall as you dare. Again, these corners are bumpy and require fast reflexes to catch the occasional snap oversteer condition. Enjoy!!!! Fast lap times for a good national driver in a well set up T1 car, is in the low to mid 2:20s.
For the club course, (and using the same corner numbering system as the big course) we entered the track in between turns 10 and 12 (Collier Curve) - which was kind of dangerous actually. I've seen race starts in several different places on the short course so there's an argument where turn 1 is exactly. To me, for the short course, turn 1 should be the new Safety Pin. But I have raced there where they waved the green near the "Fangio Chicane" which would make the next left kink turn 1 and "Cunningham Corner" turn 2. These corner names are annotated on the map and may make it easier to understand than actual numbers. You can also see on the map where the Pit In/Out road is marked.
The only change to driving it: After turn 12 (Tower Turn), instead of moving over to the right and shifting to 4th gear, stay left in 3d for a very short straight and brake hard for the next 90-degree right. [You would not keep going into the "Bishop Bend" area which connects to the long course area.] You'd go for another very short straight and then hit the lazy bend right (turns 3-4 on the long course) and then the left sweeper where you trail brake the entry, turn in later than you think you should and then fly down the long right sweeper heading toward the Safety Pin.
I've seen numbering systems range from 9 turns to 12 on this short one. It just depends on your version of a turn or corner. If you look at the big map and turn in right side up to where you can read the thing normally, the short course connection is in between the "Tower Turn" and "Bishop Bend" and is not filled in on the map. But you can see a road connection there. You will also see "SCCA Paddock" on the map too, but I've paddocked just about everywhere so be prepared for anything. The course itself is obviously much slower and much harder on brakes because there is just no time to let the brakes breathe. If you've done the long course, figured it out and were fast, you'll also be fast on the short course!
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