News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Mike Rhinehart rolls out Michelin racing tires Thursday morning to be used during the upcoming 12 Hours of Sebring event. Michelin is the official tire of the Sebring International Raceway.
click any photo to view this story's photo gallery
published: Friday, March 08, 2013
City, fans gear up for 61st annual Race Week
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - It comes without fail that each year just as the days get a little warmer and the first days of spring approaches, the city of Sebring prepares for the sights and sounds of its biggest event - the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
Just one week away, the city is putting its finishing touches on the many things needed to make it through the busiest week of the year. Restaurants prep newbies on the upcoming huge swarms of people, hotels get the extra towels ready and the Sheriff's Department gets ready for extra patrol hours.
Though each of these entities play a big part of the Race Week puzzle, it is the fans that are the heartbeat of the whole operation.
The quiet before the storm is one way to describe the staging area of the Raceway this week as just more than two dozen RV and motor homes patiently wait for the go-ahead to enter the Raceway grounds.
Each year, fans from across the state and the country travel to Highlands County looking for good times. This year is no different; a core group of fans making their 34th appearance at the races were one of the only groups out and about in the cool morning Thursday.
"We've been coming here since high school. 1977 was our first year," Alan Ebersole said.
Ebersole and his three buddies - Jimmy Meier, Bruce Sallet and Jeff Ellston - are Tampa residents who make their way to Sebring in early March each year.
"We got here on Feb. 28. They told us we could come in and set up at the staging area after 6 a.m. on the 1st. There was a line of about 16 RV's out here just waiting. This is a much better spot than where it usually is; more shady, less dirty. We just look forward to this every year. The comradery brings us back," Meier said.
Race teams had yet to set up on the Paddock area as of Thursday but will begin rolling in throughout the weekend.
A busy week awaits race fans and Sebring residents as the 61st annual 12 Hours of Sebring gates officially open Wednesday, March 13. Race week runs March 13-16.
Small Banner Ads