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Sebring, 14 – 18 March 2012

As part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the organisers arranged an exhibition of significant cars in the race’s history in the Gallery of Legends building at the rear of the pits complex. Entry was free to race ticket holders, and according to the organisers there was a record crowd in attendance, which explains why trying to find a parking spot, was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Outside the entrance to the gallery visitors were greeted by the sight of a silver, blue and red Martini liveried Porsche 917 LH, loaned by Porsche AG, which was in a similar colour scheme to the 1971 race winning Porsche 917 K. Inside the gallery could be found a number of other 12 Hour Race winning cars, including the 1953 winning Cunningham C4R, which was driven to victory by John Fitch and Phil Walters. There was also the 1954 winning diminutive 1.5 litre OSCA, entered by Briggs Cunningham, that won in the hands of Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd, beating much larger engine cars in the process, including the 3.3 litre works Lancia D-24 of Rubirosa/Valenzano, which finished 2nd .Even more diminutive was the 1952 742cc Siata 300BC, which Henry Wessells drove from Pennsylvania for the race, and finished 20th overall with entrant Thomas Scatchard. Also from the fifties was the 1957 race winning Maserati 450S s/n 4503, which Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra drove to victory.

From the seventies exhibits included the 1975 winning BMW 3.0 CSL, and the legendary 1976 Greenwood wide body “Spirit of Sebring” Corvette, that took pole position that year, and led for the first four hours before retiring. Spanning the seventies to the eighties was the 1979 Porsche 935, s/n 009 0030, probably the most raced example of its type, being actively campaigned between 1979 and 1987. This car won the 12 Hour Race in 1983 in 934 body configuration, with a single turbocharger 3.2 litre engine, driven by Baker/Mullen/Nierop. There was also the catching red and yellow MOMO liveried 1998 winning Ferrari 333 SP s/n 011
(which stood in for s/n 019), which took victory in the hands of Baldi/Moretti/Theys, and the 1999 winning BMW V12 LMR, which had a name now inexorably linked with Audi on the driving team, one Tom Kristensen, along with J.J. Lehto and Jorg Muller.
There was a special feature on the Friday afternoon between 15.00 and 16.15, when there was a $10 admission fee for a Former Winners and Hall of Fame autograph session. Also available was a new edition of the “Sebring 12 Hours Official Record Book”, by Ken Breslauer, with all the race results from 1952 to 2011, plus pictures of the top ten finishers each year, and historical information on the track, priced at $40.

Keith Bluemel