We are Changing for the Better while
Preserving the Character and History of Sebring
Much of the motorsports world focuses on the Daytona 500 this week, but everyone at Sebring International Raceway is running wide open preparing for the March 13-16 SuperSebring event that features two incredible endurance races for the world’s greatest sports cars.
Based on record-breaking advance sales, fans in huge numbers will attend the doubleheader featuring the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts for IMSA’s WeatherTech Championship, and the 1000 Miles of Sebring for the World Endurance Championship.
We want to accommodate everyone – both traditional and first-time Sebring guests – so, like a host planning for a larger than normal crowd, we plan to move some furniture around, so to speak, to ensure that everyone has room truly to enjoy the Sebring Experience.
It’s important to us not to surprise our long-time, faithful guests, so we have included you in some of our thought processes, and you have let us know how you feel about change.
It is a long-accepted that people here do not like change. A fairly common riddle here is: How many people does it take to change a lightbulb in Sebring?
Answer: Zero. People in Sebring don’t change anything.
Well, I do not subscribe to that. I do not want to change the character of Sebring, but that does not give us an excuse to neglect the facility either. In the past three years, we have made significant changes to the facility without adversely impacting the character.
We dressed up the front of the facility’s grounds, upgraded fencing (an on-going process), updated retaining walls and tire barriers (also an on-going process), given the suites a make-over, built a new restroom and shower facility for Green Park, added lighting for the track and paddock, added to viewing mounds, created a new podium for Sebring’s 12 Hours champions, added much improved signs, increased the size of many reserved parking spaces, installed dump stations for RVs, updated the vehicle fleet, and much, much more.
But nothing is as big a game-changer as The Gateway To Green Park bridge project. The full impact of this new two-lane vehicle and pedestrian bridge will not be known until we go through a race with an all new traffic situation between Green Park and the Midway.
Add to that an entirely new, additional endurance race featuring the greatest sports cars in the world and 2019 will be a Sebring Experience unlike any other.
We want to ensure that as many people as possible have a chance to see the action, so we are creating the Marathon Coach Fan Zone in Turn 3 (Kristensen Corner). Phillip McGee, our assistant director of Maintenance, reshaped the viewing mound in Turn 3, drivers’ right, to enable us to elevate a 15-row grandstand that will provide a clear view from Turn 1 all the way to the bridge at Turn 5. We are moving the giant video screen from the Midway to face this grandstand.
Phillip also reshaped the viewing mound at Turn 9 (Fangio Chicane), lengthened it toward Turn 7 so that we could place another 15-row grandstand on top of that mound.
Consider these two grandstands experiments. If people like them, we will do more. If they reject them, we will go back to the old way in 2020. We are trying this because so many have asked us to provide better viewing for the fans who want to see the race.
Some say grandstands are for ballgames and NASCAR races, but what sets Sebring apart from other sportscar venues is the lack of natural elevation. I also would argue that we never placed grandstands in such spectacular viewing areas.
And then, when the bridge neared completion and landscape designers were planning what kinds of shrubs and trees should occupy the hillsides on the ramps, we took one look and realized this bridge presented us with the best viewing mounds in Sebring history. So, we sodded them and we will let fans spread blankets on the slopes and see the action from some previously non-existent vantage points. (Please, no tents or other viewing obstructions. Remember! Respect your neighbors.)
Obviously, this bridge will open Green Park to a whole new audience, and for that reason, we plan to experiment just a bit more and take the Spring Brake Party Zone to Green Park. Our team plans to present some great music and other entertainment, like the traditional bikini contest, in this location.
Like the grandstands on top of the viewing mounds, this is an experiment in 2019, and if our guests like it, it gets to stay in 2020.
We will introduce Day Parking in 2019 to accommodate the myriad cars that will enter the property on the two biggest race days, Friday and Saturday. For some, it will create a bit of a change, meaning where you may have pitched your tent in past years will need to shift a little further east, just beyond the Sheriff’s Midway compound. This will not impact anyone’s traditional plots trackside, and it certainly will not change any reserved parking areas.
Other less obvious experiments will be in play during the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring weekend. We do so to create a better, more enjoyable experience for everyone, but ultimately what our guests want, and how well they respect the other guests and facilities, will determine our future changes.
All of us are working hard to ensure that every part of your 2019 Sebring Experience is an enjoyable one. We can’t wait to show you everything that’s new.