HSR Classics

HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour Crowns First-Time and Repeat Run Group Winners After Competitive Weekend of Vintage and Historic Endurance Racing at Sebring International Raceway

6 Dec. 2023 • 12:52
Eighth Edition of Classic Sebring 12 Hour Tribute Event to Sebring’s Rich Motorsports and Aviation History Brings the Curtain Down on 2023 HSR Season Sunday at Sebring.
© HSR Classics

The Eighth Running of the Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic Sebring 12 Hour came to a competitive and action-packed conclusion Sunday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway where three first-time Classic 12 Hour winners captured Run Group victories and another added a fourth “HSR Classics” victory to his impressive career win total.


A 12 Hours of Sebring tribute race, Saturday featured nine-straight hours of competition on the 3.74-mile road course with competitors in each of the Four Run Groups taking to the track three times in a rotation of one-hour segment races. The final rounds were held in a similar rotation for three hours Sunday afternoon with the quartet of Run Group winners crowned after a symbolic 12 hours of competition on the legendary Sebring airport circuit.


The Group B race was a feel-good family affair from start to finish with Kyle Collins scoring a convincing win in the same GMT Racing 1972 No. 8 Chevron B21 his grandfather John Delane drove to a Classic 12 victory in 2020. The senior Delane happily stepped out of the Chevron in favor of his 24-year-old grandson, but he was in the pits throughout the race coaching his young protege to the victory on the team radio. Mimi Delane, John’s wife and Kyle’s grandmother, also held station pitside throughout the event as did Collins’ mother and father.


Collins crossed the finish line more than two minutes clear of his closest competitor after leading all four of the Group A segments Saturday and Sunday. He turned in what appeared to be a flawless run for his first HSR Classics victory in an unexpected solo drive. Collins was scheduled to co-drive with his brother Tony Delane but ended up pulling the solo effort when the taller Tony was unable to fit comfortably in the compact Chevron.


Run Group B shared the track throughout the Classic 12 with their peer competitors in Run Group A, which was home to the only repeat HSR Classics winner in the race. Fast and familiar HSR competitor Toni Seiler scored his third Classic 12 Run Group win and fourth overall HSR Classics victory in the Waite-N-See Motorsports 1969 No. 17 Lola T165.


Seiler previously scored a Classic 12 Run Group win at Sebring in 2018 and followed it up with another Run Group victory the following year at the HSR Classic Daytona 24. Seiler was also an in-race driver addition to the winning Run Group A Lola last year at Sebring, co-driving in the final stage to the win with teammate Marco Fumagalli.


In Run Group C, Pierce Marshall and Eric Foss put in a competitive and controlled drive to their first overall HSR Classics Run Group victory in just their second race in the Matador Motorsports 2017 No. 02 Cadillac DPi. Marshall and Foss prevailed in a race-long battle with Stuart Wiltshire in his No. 10 Acura ARX-05 DPi.


Wiltshire finished first in the second and final Group C segments but the No. 02 Cadillac team built a nearly 40 second cushion in the opening race and added to the gap with a segment three win. Marshall and Foss maintained the lead to finish, not mounting a challenge on the Acura when it was in front but staying close in the No. 10’s mirrors just a few seconds back.


The third and final first-time winner was the unlikely entry of Patrick Womack who co-drove his FedEx 2014 No. 11 Toyota Camry to the Run Group D victory with winning NASCAR star Joe Nemechek. Reminding fans and competitors alike of this past June’s successful Garage 56 NASCAR stock car effort at Le Mans, the NEMCO Motorsports team fitted the Camry with full headlights, taillights and brake lights and Womack and “Front Row Joe” went out and scored the first victory for a Stock Car in the nearly decade-long history of the HSR Classics endurance races.


The top GT finishers in each Run Group were also honored in the Classic 12 Victory Lane. The list of winners includes Clair Schwendeman and Alan Sevadjian in the 1968 No. 137 Duntov Motor Company Corvette Roadster (Run Group A), Ken McKinnon and Mike Bruns in the Predator Performance 1972 No. 01 Porsche 911 RSR (Run Group B), Thomas Gruber and Marco Seefried in the TAG 2016 No. 991 Porsche 991 GT3 (Run Group C) and Russell Wittenberg and Bryan Collyer in the 2012 No. 113 Porsche 997.2 Cup car.


Each overall Run Group winner was presented with a special-edition B.R.M. Chronographes watch commissioned specifically for the HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour. Other presentations included the traditional Best-Plane and Best-Car awards that were presented Sunday just before this year’s lineup of amazing vintage and historic aircraft taxied back to Sebring International Raceway for departure after being on display for two days at the HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour, Pistons and Props, presented by the Alan Jay Automotive Network. Attending pilots and their families select the best team or race car of the event while participating HSR competitors and officials vote on their favorite plane.


This year’s Best-Plane Award went to the debuting 1945 Grumman TMB-3R Avenger flown by Job Savage. The aviators in turn selected the unique 1978 No. 4 Toj SC206 sports racer of Phil Daigrepont as this year’s Best-Car Award winner. Although Daigrepont, a former jockey from Louisiana, suffered four cracked ribs in a Saturday evening contact incident while racing the Toj, he still capably and enthusiastically accepted the Best-Car Award Sunday morning on the pre-race grid.


The 2024 HSR racing calendar begins right back at Sebring International Raceway next March for the sixth-straight year with the season-opening HSR Spring Fling at Sebring, March 8 – 10. The race will be run as an HSR headline weekend event for the first time in several seasons. The Spring Fling sets the stage for the 72nd running of the iconic 12 Hours of Sebring IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race the following weekend.


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