Six Decades of Racing Greatness in One Room
I was recently at the 12 Hours of Sebring, and it was an impressive experience, to say the least. The track is uneven and dated– but the drivers don’t care. They race there for the history, and Sebring is full of it. Want proof? Then check out Sebring’s Gallery of Champions; a rotating cast of historical cars. It is insane to see what they have ‘just lying around’ on race day. The car that brought me down here was the 16-cylinder Porsche 917. It was a monster car, and crazy to think that, while the engine was run on a dyno several times, it never even ran when fitted to the car. Talk about “what if?” RELATED: The Monster 16-Cylinder Porsche 917 That Never Raced Panoz Esperante GTLM GT2
Panoz is known for making wild supercars that keep with a tradition of front engine layouts. This one featured a Ford 5.0-liter V8 making 500 horsepower and 450 lb ft of torque, and competed in the 2007 American Le Mans Series.
PHOTOS: See More of the Panoz Esperante
1968 Porsche 909 Berg
This white Porsche 909 looks like a mini 917, but it was actually built for 1968 hill climb season. The 909 Berg (German for 'mountain'), was powered by a 2.0-liter flat eight that made 275 horsepower– more than enough to move a car that weighed only 849 pounds.
RELATED: See Photos of the Porsche 908 Can-Am Spyder
1975 BMW CSL
The CSL is one of my favorite cars of all time. The “Batmobile,” driven by greats like Brian Redman and Sam Posey, it had a 3.5-liter inline-6 producing 430 horsepower. That engine would go on to underpin a generation of BMW power plants. This particular car was the winner of the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring.
RELATED: See Photos of the 1970 BMW 3.0 CSL Group 2
1986 Porsche 962
In the decade that followed the CLS’s reign, things got really wild. Turbocharging changed the game, as exemplified by engines like the 620-hp 3.2-liter flat six in the 962. This car was raced by A.J. Foyt in ’87 and ’88, and finished fourth at Sebring in the latter year.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1986 Porsche 962
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (Recreation)
Had this been a true 250 TR, I would have been down on my knees bowing, exclaiming “We’re not worthy!” Wayne Campbell-style. Still, this car has a history. The body actually belongs to car No. 728, which did compete at Sebring in 1958 (wearing No. 15), but did not finish. Following the race, the cars were sent back to Ferrari to be re bodied before racing at Le Mans.
RELATED: See Photos of the 1957 Ferrari 250 TR
Much later, the body was fitted to a 1961 Ferrari 250 chassis. It still features one of the greatest engines of all time, Ferrari’s single overhead cam 3.0-liter V12, making 300 horsepower. This car was even driven by the great Derek Bell on an exhibition lap around Sebring:
It was a perfect marriage of old and new prior to the all-important 2014 12 Hours of Sebring.