12 Hours of Sebring 2014

Apparently, there is a saying that the 12 Hours of Sebring is longer than the 24 Hours of Daytona. Having watched this year’s Sebring race, I get it.

This year’s race holds the dubious distinction of eleven full course cautions. ELEVEN. As a frame of reference, last year’s had FOUR. This year, there were a bunch of rookies, or drivers acting liking rookies, spinning off course then pulling back on in front of other drivers, and other such tomfoolery that was completely avoidable and left both the other drivers and the commentators shaking their heads. To quote Achmed the Dead Terrorist, “There were flying car parts…” For several hours there, it was not pretty.

Things finally got into a groove, and we saw an hour or more go by under the green flag. Still, an SRT Viper went up in flames, at least one driver puked in the car, and a few others were carted off with dehydration. This is real racing, baby!

Illustrating how yellow flags can make all the difference, a final full course caution in the last half hour gave Marino Franchitti (brother of Dario) the opportunity to get a jump on the others when the flag went green, and he and his Chip Ganassi Racing team (including co-drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas) took the checkered, winning overall and the P (Prototype) class. Porsche teams won both the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes, and one of the CORE Autosport teams won the PC class.

Interestingly, two penalties were handed out to the wrong teams, which can have a devastating impact, given how much each tenth of a second can count. Hopefully, IMSA officials will examine the incidents closely and figure out how to prevent them from happening in the future.

Sebring had it all – stupid drivers, fabulous drivers, massive crashes, fires, a beautiful sunset, edge-of-your-seat racing. It sums up  what makes us racing fans both shake our heads and be unable to turn those heads away. In other words, it was real racing.