SEBRING — Once again, the 12 Hours of Sebring will be the second race on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule in 2015. The race will be held March 21 and gates will open to the public on March 18.
Even though the race is a bit later than it has been recently, Tres Stephenson, president and general manager of Sebring International Raceway, said it does keep with the tradition of having the race on the third Saturday in March and was pleased with the date.
“This is the date we all agreed we thought would work best,” he said. “It gets us away from a couple of things and it puts us closer to the St. Petersburg race. A lot of the IndyCar drivers also drive here and that makes it better for them because they can go there and race the following weekend.”
The National Hot Rod Association’s Gatornationals will likely be held March 14 in Gainesville, and the March 21 date makes it possible for race fans to attend both events.
Stephenson couldn’t be more pleased with the first year of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series.
“We had record sales, but we kind of expected that,” he said. “It was the Grand-Am crowd and the ALMS crowd coming together. Everybody we’ve talked to have really enjoyed the merge, but whether they come back, that remains to be seen.”
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced the full schedule for 2015 on Sunday. The first official event will be the annual Roar Before The Rolex 24 test session at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 9 through Jan. 11 and the first race will be the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 24 and 25.
Stephenson said he has not been told the dates of the annual Sebring Winter Test, but said he may find that out this week when he meets with IMSA officials to present strategic plans, which include items such as grandstands and restrooms.
“We want to do anything we can to make the one-day race fan a little more comfortable,” he said.
Not only will the 12 Hours of Sebring be part of the TUDOR series, it will again be the second race in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The four-race series begins with the Rolex 24 At Daytona, followed by the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 28 and the season-ending Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda on Oct. 3.
The TUDOR series will consist of 12 races and each of the four classes will race in 10 events, meaning half of the races do not feature all four classes, but the four Patrón Cup races, along with Road America (Aug. 9) and Circuit of The Americas (Sept. 18), will feature each class.
“When we set out to create the inaugural TUDOR Championship schedule we wanted to have a calendar that featured the most iconic endurance races, historic road courses and major market street circuits in North America all on the same schedule,” said IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton. “We have confirmed all of those elements once again on the 2015 schedule. This is a schedule that we are confident will be embraced by the industry and sports car fans worldwide.”
Kansas Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway both hosted TUDOR Championship events in 2014, but were dropped from next year’s schedule. Lime Rock Park was the only venue added for 2015