When Sebring moved to Road Atlanta
- Published: Tuesday, June 04 2013 09:02
In 1974 the 12 Hours of Sebring was cancelled due to the fuel crisis brought on by the OPEC oil embargo (the 24 Hours of Daytona had also been cancelled earlier in the year).
When the oil embargo ended in late March, IMSA decided to go ahead and have Road Atlanta open the 1974 season with a six-hour race on April 21st that would be known as “Sebring at Road Atlanta” (which was printed on the tickets). While this wasn’t the official name of the event, that was certainly the theme. It should be noted that even though Sebring was cancelled, several thousand fans showed up anyway at the old central Florida airport circuit back in March.
As track President Arthur Montgomery wrote in the event program: “You will be witnessing the first ever championship endurance racing event at Road Atlanta. We regret it was necessary for our friends at Sebring to cancel their event, but welcome the opportunity to replace Sebring for the opening race of the 1974 championship schedule.”
Road Atlanta was only in its fifth year, and this would be the first major endurance race for the circuit best known for hosting the SCCA runoffs. The IMSA Camel GT series wasn’t that well known back then, but one of the largest crowds yet turned out.
The race attracted 52 entries (several teams had to share pits). Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood (winner at Sebring in 1973) dominated the first half of the race in the Brumos Porsche Carrera RSR. Favorites John Greenwood and local star Gene Felton had dropped out early.
After the Brumos entry encountered some mechanical problems, the Porsche driven by Al Holbert and Elliott Forbes-Robinson took the lead and led the rest of the way, averaging over 96 mph. Finishing second were Milt Minter and Michael Keyser in another Porsche. The highest finishing non-Porsche was a BMW CSL driven by Brett Lunger and Andy Petery.
Sebring and Daytona were back on the schedule in 1975, opening the IMSA season, but Road Atlanta proved it could hold a major endurance event!