Local News

Downtown Race events scrubbed, but Ride to racetrack returns Sunday

SEBRING-While two 12 Hours of Sebring-related events in downtown Sebring will not be held this year, the popular Ride the Racetrack returns Sunday to the Sebring International Raceway.

More than 60 cars are expected to race in the 62nd Mobile 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, set from March 12 to 15.

In the past, the Taste of the Race and Circle of Speed have launched the race season but the traditional get-togethers, where visitors browsed vintage race cars on the Sebring Circle, have been canceled this year.

Lora Todd, who helped coordinate the events for the Sebring Chamber of Commerce, Plan B Promotions and Heartland Riders Association, said the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association couldn't guarantee that the race cars would be able to attend Circle of Speed.

Last year, about 80 were supposed to show up but only six did.

"If three (cars) show up, people would be disappointed," she said. "There is a lot of money and effort involved. We are not in the business of disappointing people."

Also canceled is the The Taste of the Race, which lost money last year, Todd said. Local restaurants used to sponsor food booths but the recession affected their participation, Todd said. Last year, she invited Relay For Life teams to sell food and raise money, but the organizers couldn't recoup their costs because of fees the city charges, insurance costs and the manpower, Todd said.

Canceling the events this year was a hard decision, she said.

"I think people are disappointed," she said, "But I think they will be disappointed if they came downtown and saw no cars."

Those who want to get a rush of what it is like to speed on the Sebring raceway racetrack can do so from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the raceway.

Drivers from Skip Barber Racing School will take people on a spin around the track two times, and the three cars that will be running will be racing in full speed against one other, said Sebring Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Liz Barber.

"It is really intensive; it is really cool," she said.

Ride the Racetrack is a fundraiser for the chamber. Advance tickets are $15 and cost $20 the day of the event.

Tickets can be picked up early at any local branches of MidFlorida Credit Union, which is sponsoring the event, or the chamber office.