Image courtesy of Sebring International Raceway
Sebring International Raceway is best known for its annual 12-hour sports car race, but after the rugged road course was first created out of a decommissioned United States Army Air Forces training base following World War II, it got its first race on this date in 1950 with a race half that length.
Sebring’s disused runways caught the eye of aeronautical engineer Alec Ulmann, while he was seeking such sites to restore military aircraft for civilian use. Recognizing Sebring’s potential as a racetrack as well, he organized a sports car endurance race for New Year’s Eve, 1950. A field of 30 cars was assembled for the six-hour Sam Collier Memorial Grand Prix of Endurance, which was won by Fritz Koster and Ralph Deshon in a Crosley Hot Shot that had been driven to the track by Victor Sharpe.
Building on the success of this event, the first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952, and quickly gained a permanent place on the international sports car racing calendar. In 68 days, the gates open for the 62nd running of of the 12 Hours.