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That Unmistakable Sebring Vibe Rings Truer than Ever in 2024

From a Packed House to Major Announcements to Unbelievable Racing, This Year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Had It All … and More


By John Oreovicz


SEBRING, Fla. – The 2024 edition of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac was one of those events that truly had to be seen in person to be believed.


The four-day event from March 13-16 featured more than 200 cars on track at the historic 3.74-mile circuit, spanning five IMSA-sanctioned series – six, if you include Historic Sportscar Racing’s March 8-10 Sebring “Spring Fling,” which also attracted a record entry.


A pair of Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin races were decided by a total of 0.083 seconds, with rising 17-year-old star Connor Zilisch coming out second best in both – including a 0.004-second photo finish to Westin Workman in the second race of the meeting. Zilisch made up for that disappointment by co-driving the No. 18 Era Motorsport entry to a Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class victory in the “main” race – the Twelve Hours on Saturday.


Speaking of the headline event, the WeatherTech Championship contest was decided with an audacious on-track pass by Louis Deletraz on Sebastien Bourdais (No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R) in the last five minutes to secure victory for the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06.


Blessed by almost perfect weather for camping – hot days, but with enough cloud cover and breeze to remain comfortable, relatively cool nights and no hint of rain – it all played out in front of the largest announced crowd in Sebring history.


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The expansive racetrack developed over nearly three-quarters of a century from the foundation of a World War II U.S. Army Air Forces base was packed to the gills all week with spring break and St. Patrick’s weekend party revelers – and quite a few racing fans too. The paddock holding the cars and team work areas from the five IMSA series measured almost six-tenths of a mile long yet was still bursting at the seams. It took 245 transporters to haul all the cars and associated gear to central Florida, and if you lined them all up, it would create a three-mile-long convoy.


It was truly a spectacle, and collectively, it prompted IMSA Radio anchor John Hindhaugh to call it the “Sebring Super Duper Weekend” during a partner event staged Friday morning at the track where IMSA President John Doonan unveiled the 2025 schedules for the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.


You read that correctly. The 2025 schedule was announced in March 2024. That’s the kind of confidence and momentum IMSA is rolling with right now, and blockbuster events like Sebring demonstrate that its brand of sports car racing is attracting unprecedented levels of interest and attention from fans and auto manufacturers.


“Beating the all-time attendance record for the longest-running endurance race in North America, that is incredibly special,” Doonan said. “The midway, with all the manufacturers and vendors activating, was amazingly impressive – not just the displays themselves, but the fan engagement. The paddock just looked so impressive, with all five series running.


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“Having earned the right to announce our 2025 schedule so early shows stability,” he continued. “It gives our teams, partners, drivers and manufacturers the ability to plan in advance. That, along with the extensions we announced with our entitlement partners WeatherTech, Michelin and VP Racing Fuels in late 2023 at the Motul Petit Le Mans, just puts everything on such a firm foundation.


“There’s never going to be a cockiness or a swagger out of anybody at IMSA. But I think all those things put together gives all of us at IMSA – and I believe our fans, our partners and our participants – a confidence that endurance sports car racing IMSA-style is heading in the right direction.”


Indeed, after taking in the bustling scene that unfolded at Sebring – that will play out this spring and summer packing paddocks and pit lanes from Long Beach to Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen to Road America – it begs the question: How can IMSA get even bigger and better?


“We had a discussion in a staff meeting this morning about exactly that,” Doonan replied. “I think we’re constantly looking at how we do things. Nobody here in Daytona Beach (IMSA headquarters) rests on our laurels. We want to continue to earn feedback from our participants, from our partners and from our fans about how we’re doing and what they see. It’s an ongoing process, and it always will be, us challenging ourselves to be better.


“I woke up on race day and walked the Sebring paddock like the little boy that used to love walking the paddock,” he added. “I still have, and I never want to lose, that feeling of being a race fan. And I think in so many ways, that’s how our staff approaches these events. When you have that kind of excitement and spirit of being there, like a race fan, that gives me a lot of energy. It also gives me a lot of hope for the future that we can continue to do things for the right reasons. Our sport is at a really special time. We need to look at ways to keep making it better and take really good care of it.”


Much hype was generated when IMSA introduced the new-era hybrid-powered Grand Touring Prototype class in 2023, and GTP is living up to hopes and expectations. The Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) and Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) classes of the WeatherTech Championship are also thriving. It was all on full display at Sebring.


Wouldn’t you know it, pairing fresh, high-tech race cars and the oldest-school sports car venue in America turns out to be a winning combination.