Sebring Endurance Challenge



Event of the month

Historic sportscars descended on the hallowed Florida track for enduro action. Bob Harrington was there.
Photography by Bob Harrington

This 16th edition of Historic Sportscar Racing’s Sebring Endurance Challenge had a strong emphasis on long-distance racing, with a pair of three-hour Rolex Enduros, two night Enduros and a one-hour Al Holbert Memorial GTP/WSC race. In addition there were the Klub Sport Challenge All-Porsche Sprint, the Anglo-American Challenge, the 2-litre Sports Racer Challenge, an IMSA GTO/GTU feature and seven group sprint races. A very full schedule indeed, especially Friday, when the day started with practice at 8:30am and concluded with the night races, which finished at 9pm.

Revived this year was a police-escorted trip to downtown Sebring for ‘technical inspection’. These days it’s a party, with the circle in the centre of Sebring jammed with spectators, a rock-‘n’-roll band belting out tunes and copious quantities of food and drink.

The first race of the weekend was the Klub Sport Porsche Challenge, with 356s, 911s and 914s up to two litres eligible for this hotly contested series. After six laps it was Tim Lewis’s ’70 914/6 taking the win, followed by Bill Riddell in a similar car and Fritz Seidel’s 911.

Larry Ligas repeated last year’s triumph in the Anglo-American Challenge in his ’61 Jaguar E-type. Second was the ’63 Corvette of Alan Sevadjian, with Philip di Pippo’s ’68 Corvette rounding out the podium.

With a large contingent of GTP and WSC cars entered in the Historic Night Enduro, Stan Wattles’s Lola T92/10 was first by a comfortable margin, heading the 2001 Riley & Scott MkIIIC of George Robinson and the ’85 Argo JM15 ofJohn Reisman.

While all but four of the entries in the Vintage Night Enduro were Porsches, they didn’t manage to sweep the podium positions, with Juan Gonzales’s 1964 Elva MkVIIS splitting the German cars in second. Michael Baker’s ’73 911RSR took the overall win, with Peter Kitchak’s 1969 911 third at the flag.

Saturday afternoon’s IMSA GTO/GTU feature race was a Ford/Chevrolet battle, with Dale Phelon’s 1992 Mustang taking the win, chased right down to the wire by Jordan Bupp in a ’93 Camaro.

There was a bit of a twist in the results of the Al Holbert Memorial GTP/WSC race when timing and scoring reported that the first car across the line, the Argo of John and Paul Reisman, had not made a compulsory pitstop. They were disqualified, and Craig Bennet, who had been leading in his ’97 Riley & Scott MkIII until he pitted, was awarded the victory. Second was the ’98 Riley & Scott Mk1 of Carlos de Quesada, with Peter Kitchak’s ’90 Porsche 962 taking third.

The three-hour Rolex Vintage Enduro saw four different leaders, but at the chequer it was the 1970 Porsche 914/6GT shared by Tim Lewis Jnr and Kevin Wheeler followed by Roy Walzer and Phil Harris in a 1963 Lotus 23B.

George Robinson had his Riley & Scott back out in Sunday morning’s Rolex Historic/Classic GT Enduro, this time sharing with Paul Dallenbach. He relinquished the lead briefly during the first pitstop only to reclaim it shortly thereafter and lap the field twice. The best of the rest was the ’90 Spice GTP shared by Mark Pritch and Roger Mandeville, with the brutish ’92 Mustang of John and Paul Reisman taking third.