Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Daytona vs. Sebring

John Marine | 1/26/2010 03:14:00 AM | |
Florida sportscar racing fans, unite! This is a battle between two of the finest endurance races in the United States (let alone Florida)- the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. One lasts 24 hours; the other for 12. One is the premier twice-around-the-clock endurance in the United States while the other is a once-around-the-clock classic where Le Mans invites are up for grabs. The 24 Hours of Daytona has been called as the Super Bowl of sportscar racing in the United States. Likewise, the 12 Hours of Sebring is the Super Bowl of the American Le Mans Series (excluding the Petit Le Mans). Which is the better endurance?

--- Daytona vs. Sebring: Daytona is Better! ---
In 2000, Grand-Am was established. I remember watching the very first race on ESPN with the cars and stars of the series then. Three years later, they'd bring out a new concept- the Daytona Prototype. In a colossal upset, a lowly GT-spec Porsche won outright in the Daytona Prototypes' grand debut. Over time, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has been seen as a "24-hour sprint" because of how hard-fought the racing is from start to finish. These cars are all very competitive. Many who criticize Grand-Am say that the Daytona Prototype is the NASCAR-ization of sportscar racing. Truth is, Grand-Am is a series that has its own character and style of racing. There are many who think Daytona Prototypes are absolutely ugly and can't handle worth anything. Many others likely miss the feel of this endurance being one of the most important in the world considering the past history of the 24 Hours of Daytona. Think back to when marques like Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, and others were contesting for victory around the high banks of Daytona. Today's GTP to Grand-Am is the Daytona Prototype.

But on the grand scale, even if you don't like Daytona Prototypes or the new style of the 24 Hours of Daytona since 2003, at least appreciate that these cars are very good for what they are. Credit Grand-Am for establishing its own unique character with these cars. Some call it the NASCAR-ization of sportscar racing. But to many Grand-Am fans, at least there's more competitive racing in this race compared to the 12 Hours of Sebring, which many feel is just a no-passing race.

--- Daytona vs. Serbing: Sebring is Better! ---
I tend to like traditional sportscar racing more than the Grand-Am formula. Sebring, like Daytona, has a great deal of history. Maybe since I love the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I feel that winning or doing well at Sebring nets you the chance to race at Le Mans in June. You're racing mostly for national pride at Daytona. For Sebring (not that there's anything wrong with national pride), I think the best way to make a statement is to prove yourself on a world stage. The best way to get some international love is with a solid performance at Sebring. Sebring is always a stern test of driver and machine on the bumpy former airfield. Another aspect of its allure is how this is a hot spot for college students on Spring Break. Some go to South Padre Island for a raunchy Spring Break fun. Some racing fans on Spring Break enjoy some racing action along with the American Le Mans Series.

There have been some great races at both Sebring and Daytona, but I don't think you can argue about THIS epic Sebring moment (the lovely voices of Leigh Diffey, Dorsey Schroder, and Calvin Fish have the call):

Being a Houston native, I'm obviously proud of Houston's own Risi Competizione. :) Who said sportscar racing can't be as exciting as NASCAR?

So which Florida sportscar endurance race is better? Is the 24 Hours of Daytona better, or is the 12 Hours of Sebring better? Comment at will!
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