The Historic Sportscar Racing Classic Sebring 12 Hour, Pistons and Props, will roll and soar back to Sebring International Raceway over the Nov. 30-Dec. 4 extended weekend. A vast sports car racing heritage and patriotic aviation history of the legendary race track and World War II-era airfield will be relived for the seventh Tim at HSR’s season-ending event.
Officially titled the HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour, Pistons and Props, presented by the Alan Jay Automotive Network, the five-day celebration features historic and vintage sports car racing and a Friday “fly-in” and weekend display of equally jaw-dropping military and civilian aircraft from the last half century and WWII.
The HSR Classic Sebring is a tribute race to the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring and the facility’s rich aviation history. Hendricks Field was a civil and military air field on which the famous 12-hour sports car race has been run for nearly 70 years.
This year’s HSR Classic 12 features a priceless lineup of vintage airplanes and sports cars from the last 60 years and beyond. Noteworthy four-wheel contenders include recent race winners heading to Sebring straight from victory lane at the HSR Classic Daytona presented by IMSA 24-hour race at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month.
One of the most dominating drives in this year’s Classic 24 was a victorious run by a familiar team and drivers that know how to win: The Phil Reilly and Co. 1974 Chevron B26 of Gray Gregory, Ethan Shippert and Randy Buck swept all four of their Run Group rounds to seal a record fifth HSR Classics race win.
The Chevron team narrowly lost its Group battle at the Classic 12 last year when something broke on the Chevron at speed heading into Sebring’s Turn 7 chicane section. Shippert was uninjured after contact with the safety barriers, but the team’s pursuit of a fourth HSR Classic Sebring victory—and now a 2022 HSR Classics sweep—shifts to next weekend’s race.
A Classic 24 GT contender heading to Sebring for its Classic 12 debut is the 1993 Hamilton Safe Motorsports Camaro R&S that finished second overall at Daytona in its Run Group, co-driven to the American GT class win in the 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona by Kenny Bupp, Dick Greer, Simon Gregg and Doug Mills. More than 20 years later, Bupp is still going strong at the age of 85 and will co-drive at Sebring with his son, Jordan. The Bupps have owned and raced the Camaro for 25 years, Kenny winning the 2016 Trans-Am opener at Sebring in the Camaro at 79 years of age, topping Paul Newman as the oldest driver to win a Trans-Am race.
Alan Benjamin returns to the HSR Classic 12 in his Boulder Classics 1992 Porsche 964 USA Cup that he co-drove to a GT Run Group win at the HSR Classic 24. Benjamin won Group A overall last year at Sebring in a record-setting thriller, pairing with with Brady Refenning to lead the group overall standings for just the final four minutes of the race in a Porsche 911 S/T prepped by Refenning’s 901 Shop.
Refenning finished first in Saturday night’s third round, but the Porsche never ranked higher than third in the overall Group A standings heading into Sunday morning’s fourth and final race. Then the race-leading Corvette dropped a valve in the opening minutes and another Porsche took the lead only to pit with a flat tire while cruising comfortably!
The setbacks were just enough for Benjamin to take the overall Group A win by 0.714s, the closest finish in the history of the HSR Classics races at Sebring and Daytona.
Benjamin previously secured a Sebring Classic 12 Run Group victory in the inaugural running of the HSR race in 2016, co-driving a Boulder Classics 1990 Porsche 964 Cup to the Group C title with Robert Ames.
A first-time airplane at the HSR Classic 12 is the battle-scarred USAF 1968 Cessna 02A nicknamed “Oscar Deuce.” This twin-tail and push-pull tandem-engine aircraft saw action in Vietnam and carries bullet hole patches still visible on the left flap, left vertical and elevator—all critical wing components that keep a plane in controlled flight.
The 02A was a military version of the civilian Cessna 337 and included explosion-proof fuel tanks, bulletproof seats, a full complement of military radios, rockets, bombs and mini guns and overall structural strengthening. Oscar Deuce is owned by Sam Lauff and his wife Linda Lauff who make the trip to Sebring from Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala, Florida.
Returning airplanes at the 2022 event include a blue 004 numbered 1942 Vultee BT-15 Valiant piloted by Tom Smith. Vultees were Basic Trainer (BT) aircraft that played a major role in teaching WWII military pilots the finer points of flying. The Smith’s BT-15 is just one of four still flying today out of 1,200 produced, this one assembled in Downey, California by Vultee in 1942 and delivered to the Army Air Force Training wing in Bainbridge, Georgia. Smith and his wife Kim Smith, who organize each year’s contingent of historic planes for the HSR Classic 12, are the eighth owners of the Vultee and have flown it more than 1,000 hours the last 13 years.
Another flying favorite returning to Sebring is a 1973 Bulldog 120, a British-built plane manufactured by Scottish Aviation LTD. This Bulldog was initially exported for use by the Ghana Air Force, purchased and relocated to England, and came to the U.S. in 2013. After initial stops in Michigan and Arizona, it now resides in Florida and is regularly flown by owner Tony Green.
The major on-track part of the HSR Classic Sebring is the 12 Hours of Sebring tribute race that takes place Saturday and Sunday. It begins with a symbolic 12 hours of non-stop competition Saturday before all four competing Run Groups contest a final round of races Sunday morning to bring the Classic Sebring to a close.
The race weekend also features the HSR Sebring Historics that will determine the 2022 Champions of the full-season HSR WeatherTech Sprint, Stoner Car Care Global GT, Sasco Sports International/American Challenge and B.R.M. Endurance Challenge series.
Detailed event information for the Classic Sebring 12 Hour and Sebring Historics, including weekend schedules and entry lists, is available HERE.