The Sebring International Raceway, more frequently referred to simply as Sebring, is an American based racing circuit located in Highlands County, Florida, USA. More famous for the sportscar race known as the 12 Hours of Sebring, Sebring has hosted one Formula One Championship Grand Prix, having held the first United States Grand Prix in 1959.
A United States Army Air Force based named Hendricks Field was built on the site in 1941, and remained an active training ground for the AAF until 1945, when it was converted to a civilian airport. Alec Ulmann proved to be instrumental in converting part of the airfield into a racing circuit in 1950, arranging a six hour endurance race on the 31st of December that year after an inspirational visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This evolved into the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952, which would go on to become an established round in the World Sportscar Championship.
It was on this basis that Sebring was put forward as a potential host for the Formula One World Championship in 1959, with the FIA accepting the venue as the ninth and final round of Championship. Run on the 12th of December, Sebring also hosted the Championship decider which saw Jack Brabham push his car 400 metres to the finish line to secure his first title. Despite the Indianapolis 500 being counted as a Championship round since 1950, the 1959 race in Sebring is considered the first US based Grand Prix.
Yet, organisational issues and a lack of financial, nor popular interest saw Sebring dropped for the 1960 season, with the US Grand Prix moving to Riverside, California. While F1 moved on, Sebring was slowly evolved as Sportscars became the dominant force in America road racing, with the circuit reduced in length as the years went on, before abandoning the main runway and active taxiways in 1991. The current layout runs for just under three and three-fourths miles, with sections named for legendary racers Dan Gurney and Juan Manuel Fangio.
The Sebring International Raceway currently contains three variations, although the full "Grand Prix" layout in use since 1999 is around two thirds the original length. The Sebring circuit was often modified, while also receiving criticism for its lack of markings during its earliest use, particularly down the wide runways that made up a fair porition of the original layout.
The original circuit used the full length of the North Runway of Sebring airport, while also containing a mixture of surfaces. Concrete was predominant, although the first section was covered in tarmac, meaning a rough and punishing transition between the track surfaces. The circuit also ran past the Control Tower and the warehouses to the north of the airfield, which linked the first section to the runway via a hairpin and the Webster Turn.
Featurning 14 corners, Sebring was famed for its high speed layout, and measured 8.66 km in length in 1959.
The modern version of the Sebring International Raceway shares few elements with its original version, although the concrete vs tarmac legacy remained. With the removal of the runway run in 1991, the circuit may be used without disrupting the airfield and vice-versa, while the hairpin was modified due to a lack of run off, the remolded corner now called the Safety Pin. The current full length version now runs to 6.02 km, with National and Club versions also in use.
The following is a list of Formula One World Championship events held at the Sebring International Raceway:
|Year||Event||Winning Driver||Winning Constructor||Report|
|1959||United States Grand Prix||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||Report|
- Dave Friedman, via The Henry Ford, 'Grand Prix Race, Sebring, Florida, December 1959', flickr.com, (Flickr, 25/08/2010), https://www.flickr.com/photos/thehenryford/4929493421, (Accessed 31/12/2015)
- Hamilton, Maurice, Grand Prix Circuits, (Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2015), p.84
- 'Sebring International Raceway', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 11/12/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebring_International_Raceway, (Accessed 30/12/2015)
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|V T E||United States Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961–1980), Phoenix (1989–1991), Indianapolis (2000–2007), Austin (2012–present)|
|Formula One Races||1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981–1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992–1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008–2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020|
|Non-F1 races||1908 • 1909 • 1910 • 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1917–1957 • 1958|
|See also||United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix|