One of the most exciting race weekends of the year at Sebring International Raceway kicks-off on Friday, as the Trans Am series has its traditional season opener over the historic track, while Sportscar Vintage Racing Association holds its Sebring Vintage Classic, allowing fans the opportunity to see some of the great cars from the past and the present. Throw in a car show on Saturday and there will be something for car enthusiasts of all types.
Sebring has been the site of the season opener for Trans Am the past five seasons and the 2018 field of drivers looks stronger than it many years. Returning to defend his TA class title is Florida’s Ernie Francis Jr., who won 10 of 13 races last season, which was his first in the TA class. He previously won titles in the TA3-American Muscle and TA4 classes before making the move to the top class in the series.
It’s not going to be easy, however, as 2015-2016 champion Amy Ruman is back and looking to reclaim her title and there are plenty of others with the capability of winning on any given day.
“It will be interesting,” Ruman said of the 2018 season.
Those who like horsepower will love the TA class, as the cars are capable of creating 850 horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds, while reaching speeds of 190 miles-per-hour. There are 19 cars entered in the TA class, which races at the same time as the TA3 and TA4 classes.
The largest field is the TA2 class, with 32 entries, and they have their own race. The cars are newer Camaros, Mustangs and Dodge Challengers, so fans of the old ‘Muscle Car’ wars will be right at home when these cars are on the course.
The list of previous Trans Am championships is pretty impressive with names like Peter Gregg, John Greenwood, Scott Pruett, Scott Sharp, Tommy Kendall, Hurley Haywood and others.
You’ll find everything from Allen Harriman’s 1951 MG TD Spec to the 2017 Porsche GT3R of Juan Gonzalez on the Sebring Vintage Classic entry list and plenty in between. The cars are broken into different groups, so cars are racing against other cars of comparable speed, although each group is timed separately when racing against other groups.
Several of the more popular groups are Group 3, which features a number of Porsches from the 1950s and 60s, along with cars from Triumph, Datsun, Ginetta and others. There are 18 cars entered in the group.
Group 6 is another popular group, with 22 entries, and cars range from 1961 to 1974, with plenty of Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs and more.
The largest group is the International GT group, which is made up of mostly newer Porsches and Ferraris.
Action begins Friday at 8 a.m. with practice for the SVRA cars and the first qualifying session for IGT cars. The Trans Am cars will take to the track at 11:30 a.m. for testing, with the TA/TA3/TA4 cars running together and the TA2 cars having their own session.
After lunch, the SVRA groups will hold qualifying sessions and the Trans Am cars will take to the track for for one final test session to close out the day’s activities.
It’s another 8 a.m. start on Saturday, with the second qualifying sessions for the SVRA cars and the first race of the weekend will begin at 10:05 a.m. with the IGT cars. The Trans Am field will have one practice session, sandwiched by a Group 1/2/3 qualifying session to take it to the lunch break.
Saturday afternoon will feature SVRA races and the qualifying session for the Trans Am cars.
Saturday’s car show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday’s action also begins at 8 a.m. and the first event is a 90-minute enduro race, followed by two 30-minute group races. At 11:05, the first 75-minute Trans Am race will take place for the TA/TA3/TA4 cars and will take us to the lunch break. There will be two more group races, followed the final event of the weekend, the TA2 Trans Am race, which is also 75 minutes.
Tickets are $10 for Friday or $20 for Saturday or Sunday tickets. A three-day pass can be purchased for $35, which includes camping. Ticket information is available at svra.com.