Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sebring Classic 12 Hour Pistons and Props

With Axl Rose signing for AC/DC, some people have wondered what has happened to the former lead singer Brian Johnson.  Did he fall off the planet?  Did he die, or is he dying?

He’s zipping and zooming around in a pretty sweet car.  The former AC/DC frontman was racing with his wife at the Sebring International Raceway over the weekend.  The Johnson’s both raced their Porsches in the same heat at the Historic Sportscar Racing event, and were seated with the award-winning Brown family at the HSR season ending award banquet the night of Dec. 3rd.

Residents of Sarasota, FL, Brenda and Brian Johnson entered into the Vintage/Classic GT Endurance Race.  In Class V3, with Brenda in car number 123, her best time of the day on Saturday was 8:31:49.240 in lap 9.  Brian raced in Class V1, car 121, having a time of the day of 8:30:08.061 in his tenth lap.

The southwest Florida couple were amongst many people who flocked to the Sunshine State to compete in the Sebring Classic 12-Hour Pistons and Props race.  It’s like walking into a time warp, seeing a slew of classic cars racing wheel to wheel.  Each time you think you found your favorite, another car trumps it.

Walking around the event was like a car show, as people drove their best cars to show off; Hudson Historics brought a number of Corvette Daytona Prototypes.  Stroll past Ferraris, a Prowler, SSR, Porsche motorcycles, a Can-Am Spyder, racing bikes and more.  It’s hilarious to see multiple grown men squeezing onto mini-bikes designed for kids, but it’s a quick mode of transportation across the vast expanse of the Sebring Raceway, a winding, turn-filled track unlike traditional circular tracks.

The Sebring International Raceway exploded with classic cars, military vehicles, and planes.  The historic display was educational for little ones, and a tease for the adults, who would want to get behind the wheel of a number of vehicles on display at the HSR Classic 12 Hour Pistons and Props event.  The racing got underway on Thursday, and Saturday included a 12-hour race, where drivers drove into the dark expanse of the evening, with the final races culminating on Sunday afternoon on the 3.74 mile track.

The event drew an international crowd; Chris Beighton and Alec Hammond of Lutterworth, UK, raced a Budweiser ’09 Chevy Impala SS (CoT) 5866cc and a ’66 Ford Mustang 2+2 5800cc.  Oliver and Grahame Bryant of Marlow, UK, raced a ‘67 Camaro Z/28 5700cc, a NASCAR ’05 Dodge Charger 5866cc, and a ’65 Ford Mustang 2+2 5700cc.  From Switzerland, Toni Seiler did laps in a 69/80 Lola T70 Mk IIIb 5700cc, and Alain Ruede raced an ’82 Chevy Camaro IROC  5932cc, while Robert Blain and Marc Devis brought their ’75 March 75S 3000cc.

Giles Boyer and Frank Rave of Paris, France, brought a ’73 Porsche 911 RS 2700cc.  Marko Radisic of Serbia raced a ’99 Ferrari 360 Ch’ge 3600cc, and Gerard Lopez zipped in a ’92 Toyota 94CV 3600cc/T.  Florent Moulin of Luxemburg, imported an ’01 Dallara SP1 4000cc, a prototype that raced at Sebring for the first time.

It’s bad enough trying to take luggage that is not standard size, but could you imagine transporting an entire car or fleet of cars across the ocean for a race?  There’s a lot of time and money that goes into the sport.  It can grow extremely expensive for the classic car enthusiast who has a need for speed.

Though there were the competitors from across the globe, Florida residents brought more than their fair share of jaw-dropping vehicles, and they put up a fight on their home state racetrack.  Robert Blain of Bonita Springs took first in his second race with his ’04 Chevy Corvette C6r 7000cc.  In second place was Juan Lopez-Santini of Plantation in his ’08 Porsche 997.2 Cup 3800cc.

Todd Treffert of Sarasota had a best time of 2:19.836 in his ’74 Porsche 911 IROC 3000cc, taking second place in the International/American Challenge race on Friday.  Mike Banz of Miami Beach, Bill Keith of Boca Raton, and Jamie Busby of Port St. Lucie followed closely behind in their Porsches, but it was a ’70 Ford Boss 302 5047cc that took first, driven by Curt Vogt and John Koch.  John Bibbo of Naples and Andre Herke of Sarasota raced BMWs in the race, but their cars were left in the dust behind some of other makes and models on the track; these observations make the races more educational for the fans.

People had their eyes on Rogers Motorsports’ Doug Smith and Andy Wallace, driving a 2005 Audi A8 LMS that won the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona in 2014 and 2015.  Travis Engen drove a similar car to battle against David Porter of GMT Racing in a ’07 Prescarolo Judd LMP.  Father and son team Juan Gonzalez Sr. and Juan Gonzalez Jr. raced a 2013 Oreca FLM09, an ex-CORE autosport, retired IMSA Prototype Challenge.

The event pays tribute to Sebring’s aviation history, bringing classic airplanes around the track on historic Hendricks Field, an iconic military and civilian aviation facility that is still an active airport.  A tank rolled down the track along with other military vehicles, adding to the excitement.  This year marks the 75th anniversary of the field’s opening, as well as the 100th birthday of Lieutenant Laird W. Hendricks.

HSR had a season ending award ceremony on Saturday night.  Race Sponsor Awards were given out to Sunoco Race Fuels, Wisko Race Engineering, B. R.M. Chronographes, Weathertech, Bob Woodman Tires, Wine Country Motor Sports Race Gear and Equipment, Speedcom Communications, Classic Motorsports Magazine, Braille, Hawks and more.

On Dec. 8, the Sebring Drag Racing will be held at the Sebring International Raceway, featuring jet dragster Elaine Larsen of Larsen Motorsports, a two-time IHRA Jet Dragster World Champion, who’s tope speed is 336 mph; the gates open at 5 p.m., and admission is $5 for spectators and $20 for unlimited racing. March 15-18 will be the 65th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and advanced tickets are on sale now at  For more on HSR, visit