It's still relatively quiet as we arrive at the far end of the Sebring paddock area for a quick breakfast in the IMSA hospitality tent. We know we'll be seeing some drivers, but we aren't quite sure who. Walking in we immediately notice some familiar faces in the form of Hurley Haywood and Vic Elford sitting at a table, leaning toward each other talking and laughing. At the same table sat Bobby Rahal and Wayne Taylor (long time racer and team owner). Of course, our focus was drawn to Vic and Hurley.
After a quick introduction our hosts, IMSA's PR department and Porsche's PR department, asked the drivers to tell a short story about what makes Sebring so special to them. While everyone had something of interest to say, it was Vic Elford's story that stood out for us (Vic is the Grand Marshal of the race this weekend). Here's Vic's story,
"Actually I came before these two [Hurley and Bobby Rahal had just spoken]. The first time I came to Sebring was in 1968, I had just won Daytona a few weeks before and then came and finished 2nd here that first time. What I remember most about Sebring, the original very, very long track when we went out onto the runways, the first time I went out for night practice you know, perhaps if you don't know. But what in those days after what is now the esses, where you just went straight on out for a long way turned right onto what was then the main runway went down there for a mile or two turned right again onto the second runway, for another mile or two, before coming down to what is now turn 17. And I remember going out in the daytime and feeling a little bit lost out there on the runways, because it was just so vast, and there was very little to tell us where to go. The first time I went out for night practice I got out and turned right onto what was the main runway and I'm driving down that runway at 150, 160 mph when suddenly a set of lights was coming toward me out of the air, just a set of lights coming down and as it landed I realized it was an airplane because the runway in those days the runway was split down the middle with pylons. We had, what for us, was the right hand side of the runway, the left hand side of the runway was still an active runway. And this guy was landing in the middle of the night going one way while I was going the other way."
Hit the play button below to listen to Vic in his own words.
If you have trouble with the embedded player, here's a link directly to the audio file.
In a couple hours we'll be off to watch as Vic is inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
A Conversation with Vic Elford at the Larz Anderson Porsche Club Concours
Vic Elford Explains Balance in the Around the World Porsche 911
Porsche Well Represented In 2014 Sebring Hall Of Fame Inductees