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Flat Spot On: 2014 SportsCar Schedule Revealed (Not)

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 18 2013

The start at this year's Sebring event. What of future years? (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

SEBRING, Fla. – Top Ten Tweets from the Sebring 12-hour

1. The new name of the merged Grand-Am and ALMS – drum roll please – is United SportsCar Racing. (Soon to be better known as the Rolex SportsCar Series Presented by Tequila Patron.)

2. Big bucks were paid to Sports Marketing Enterprises to arrive at the new name and hard to comprehend helmet symbol. Yes, that’s a helmet, although it looks a lot like a Sebring track map. (Andy Evans needed only himself and his marketing assistant Kurtis Eide to come up with the highly similar Professional Sports Car Racing, which was the forerunner of the American Le Mans Series, a name created by founder Don Panoz.)

3. The fan turnout for this years’ Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring – roughly 80,000 – was comparable to last year’s World Endurance Championship event, possibly better. (While some think it’s the last great Sebring due to the scheduled disappearance of LMP-1 cars, others, particularly teams and drivers, seem to view this year’s race as the next great Sebring.)

4. Audi bid farewell with the first appearance of the R18 e-tron quattro following 10 victories in 13 years by the Audi Sport team. (Who says you need different winning teams to sell tickets – although there were 13 different drivers involved.)

5. Some of the greatest interest was expressed about the new Porsche 911, i.e. the 991 iteration, which wasn’t at Sebring – yet. (Testing will be run at Sebring shortly after the race for the car expected to carry Porsche’s GT aspirations next year in North America versus Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Viper. Porsche was the only manufacturer not to lead a lap in the first nine hours during another terrific battle for the GT class win.)

6. Hurley Haywood, now a healthy looking 65, leads all drivers with 24 starts at Sebring. (He says the most fearful ride he’s ever had was the Porsche 917 and the worst was a Lola-Porsche in the early days of GTP – he can’t remember the year and doesn’t want to.)

7. Nobody comes to Sebring without referencing the “Zoo,” the Green Park where race fan creativity runs merrily amok. (All manner of odd sights can be seen such as prototype paddock-crawling vehicles and prototype scaffolding. (Sometimes these two categories are combined.) Plus there’s always plenty of unusual home-built bars, hot tubs, tattoos, headwear and displays of bare skin.)

8. Fans who have seen sunrise and sunset at Sebring on race day and all the fearsome mechanical cut and thrust in between have definitely gotten their money’s worth. (It is quite possibly the best ticket in motor racing – plus there’s all day Sunday to recover.)

9. Audi won the GT class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year, which came as a surprise to some. (Meanwhile, Audi has been surprised that no team owner has stepped up to buy any of the customer Audi R8’s now available and to be eligible in GT next year.)

10. How many races will be on the SportsCar schedule next year? (We hear 12 is the maximum number and minimum. Daytona, Sebring and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta are a lock plus the International Speedway Corporation-owned track at Watkins Glen, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and likely the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. After that, all bets are off!)

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 18 2013
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