Classic Sebring 12 Hours – HSR Props & Pistons

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Now owned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) was formed in the mid-1970s with one goal: to celebrate the race cars of the past.  Amongst the many meetings now organised by HSR is the annual Props & Pistons meeting at Sebring that, running from Wednesday to Sunday, brings a packed schedule of racing that features the  12 Hours of Sebring tribute race and includes a Friday “fly-in” and weekend display of military and civilian aircraft from the last half century.  The meeting brought the HSR season to an end and was the championship decider for many of the club’s series.

The Group A Paddock

Run to a similar format as the Daytona Classic 24 from the same organisers, the seventh historic Sebring 12-hours ran on the legendary 3.74-mile Sebring road course on Saturday 3 December in a symbolic noon to midnight time slot with a fourth and final round for each of the four race groups on Sunday to decide the winners on cumulative results. 

In the most dominating victory of the weekend, first-time HSR Classics winner Brent Asplundh took his Kelly-Moss Road and Race (KMR) 2015 Porsche 991 Cup car to four victories, underlining his superiority by finishing Sundays race a full lap ahead of his nearest rival, who just happened to be his son Griffith Asplundh, in a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. 

Marco Fumagalli took two Saturday wins in his Lola T160 ahead of race 1 winner Till Bechtolsheimer’s Chevron B8

In Group A, for the oldest cars, 2019 victor Marco Fumagalli returned to take two Saturday wins in his Lola T160 and end the day with a strong 90-second lead in the Group over Till Bechtolsheimer’s Chevron B8, winner of the first race.  This year, Fumagalli brought his friend and 2018 Group A winner Toni Seiler along.  Seiler only completed four laps of the first race before a terminal mechanical issue side lined  his Lola T165.  Fumagalli generously offered to share his Group-leading T160 with his teammate in Sunday’s fourth and final round, allowing the friends to each claim a second HSR Classic 12 Hour victory.

Phil Reilly and Co. took a record-extending sixth HSR Classics victory in Group B with a win for the Chevron B26 piloted by car owner Gray Gregory and his teammates Randy Buck and Ethan Shippert, who won three out of four rounds to seal the fourth Classic Sebring 12 victory in five years for the team and its drivers.  

A first-time winner was the Ideal Motorsports Oreca FLM09 Le Mans Prototype Challenge “PC” car of owner/driver Matthew Miller and his teammate James French.  Miller and French won Friday’s one hour B.R.M. Endurance Challenge race and that victory paved the way for the duo’s biggest win yet in historic competition in Run Group C.

Matthew Miller and his teammate James French were first time winners of Group C in their Oreca FLM09

Miler and French battled with the Oreca 07 LMP2 of Stuart Wiltshire and former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Richard Bradley throughout the races.  More than once French reeled the newer P2 car back for the pair to win all three Group C Saturday rounds.  Sunday’s fourth and final round went to Wiltshire and Bradley but the FLM09 took the aggregate win by 27 seconds.

The top finishing GT competitors in Groups A, B and C included Alain Ruede in his 2002/1965 Shelby CSX (Group A), Kenneth Greenberg in his 1996 Porsche 993 RSR (Group B) and Thomas Herb and Ryan Dalziel in Herb’s Fall-Line Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Group C).  Overall winners in 2021, Herb and Dalziel secured top GT honours in Group C for the second-straight year.

This year’s Best Plane Award went to Tony and Amy Greene for their 1973 Bulldog 120, a British- built plane man- ufactured by Scottish Aviation Ltd. The aviation contingent in turn selected the “squadron” of colourful 1980s-era Porsche 944 race cars driven by Ray Shaffer, Ramsey Potts and Colin Dougherty and prepared by DAS Sport as the best in the paddock.

The event included the now traditional Best-Plane and Best-Car awards that were presented on Sunday just before the historic aircraft taxied back to Sebring International Raceway for departure after being on display for two days.  Attending pilots and their families select the best team or race car, while participating HSR competitors and officials vote on their favourite plane.

For a more detailed report, see our January/February 2023 issue…

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