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Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

Welcome, race fans!

Chris Hutchins

When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to get out of Sebring and "see the world." Undoubtedly, this is a common idea among our local youth and it's likely that you've felt this way once or twice during your residence here in Sebring.

The joke was always "So, what's going on in See-boring this weekend?" There's also a communal idea that when people do leave town, they always return. Is there some sort of social whirlpool that keeps you swimming away from the center of the vortex with no hope of escaping its pull? (By the way, the trick to getting out of a whirlpool is to swim with the direction of the water until you can get enough speed to get out.)

For the most part, I can understand this attitude. At times I have even shared it with my peers. There is, however, a multitude of redeeming people, places and things in our beloved county. One of those things for me is just around the corner, about four days away. Each year this event is heralded by three simple words incorporated into all sorts of banners and signs around town, a clarion call that can't be missed: Welcome Race Fans!

To say I am a race fan would be a bit of an understatement. The truth is; when I hear the song declaring Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year I have to disagree. A few usually gorgeous days in March are the most wonderful time of the year in Sebring.

This year the 62nd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring will be from March 12th through the 15th. I love the sounds of the cars, the smell of superheated brakes and burning rubber, the excitement of seeing your favorite car vying for position. Do I watch every second of the Race? Of course not, out of the three full days of racing and the single 12 hour race, I probably watch a total of three or four hours. Sounds pitiful but I would wager that is longer than many race fans actually watch. To those who don't appreciate the races this sounds pretty silly, I know.

The bottom line is, hardly any regular folks are there to intently watch the race. Sure, drivers, pit crews, owners, tire reps and track officials are all there for that purpose. I say, good for them, they are doing a great job and they should continue to focus. The rest of us will be there for other reasons, to take a mini-vacation, to catch up with old friends and race fans, to meet knew race fans, to get our social on with a rowdy race flavor.

Maybe we'll go to visit the Turn 10 crew, or McDuff's. Of course Hank and Sheila's Big Freakin' Tent is a popular excuse to go to the races. F-Troop and the Band in the Van represent some musical diversions. Camp Snoopy is always cool and The Pit Crew can help you demolish almost anything. Dodge City gets rustic, the Taj Mahal is way too elaborate, and don't forget the mystery of Terd Ferguson or the Race Rug and the 12 steps of Sebring. Last year my wife created "Lucky Turn" and I hope she does it again. Other attractions include the Flagpole, the drive over bridge and the midway. The Spring Break Zone and the Patron tent always draw a crowd, and of course there is Club Sebring.

Whatever your reason to go may be, we'll see you there and one more thing, Welcome Race Fans!