Premium automakers have been busy over the last few years designing sedans that look like coupes, with models like the Mercedes CLS, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A7 all trying to fill a niche for buyers that want a coupe but really need four doors. All of them build ultra-high performance versions of these cars as well, with Mercedes offering the 577hp CLS63 AMG, BMW and its 560hp M6 Gran Coupe, and Audi with their 560hp RS7. I was anxious to try out one of these curvaceous crossbreed sedans so gave Audi a call to see if they had an RS7 they could loan me. “We don’t have any RS7’s or even an S7,” they said, “but we do have an A7 TDI that you can drive if you’re interested.” I had to think about that for a minute. After all, it’s a big step down from a 560hp RS7 to a 240hp A7 diesel, but I decided to give it a try and as it turned out, I was not disappointed.
To say that the 12 Hours of Sebring is America’s classic sports car race is doing it an injustice. This event is like no other because this place is like no other. Lost in orange grove country in the middle of Florida - which is quite literally the middle of nowhere - the circuit is a majestic anomaly. Unlike the sanitized Daytona International Speedway, which hosts America’s other endurance road racing event, Sebring is unapologetically Old School to the extreme. Yes, there have been myriad improvements to the facility over the years, but the track itself boasts some concrete surfaces which have remained untouched since its days as a pilot training base during World War II. And that’s part of Sebring’s innate charm, especially in this era of cookie-cutter speedways and orchestrated sameness that permeates so much of racing today.
But the real heart of the matter when it comes to Sebring is its brutal, unforgiving persona that has been hard won over years punctuated by both elation and crushing disappointment. Sebring has a way of breaking spirits and machines with equal measures of finality, because things happen here that are simply inexplicable. The history of this place is littered with examples of drivers cruising along with their cars in the lead and with the race in the bag, only to have it all come undone in the final hour, and sometimes even in the final minutes. To finish here is an achievement unto itself. But to win here is a triumph that endures forever.
And this year, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida as it’s officially called, was certainly no different.
Naples. Located in Naples, Florida, The Revs Institute is a mind-boggling tribute to the automobile. It exists, in their words, for “Elevating the study of the auto.” And elevate they do. The 80,000-square-foot facility was purpose-built and again, in their words, “dedicated to achieving world-class excellence.” Mission accomplished.
While visitors will certainly be blown away by The Collier Collection… over 100 influential cars… the facility also includes a private archive and research library comprised of over a million original documents and 20,000 book titles. All available to serious researchers both on-site and online. This includes books, periodicals, over 700,000 photographic images and ephemera.
And if that weren’t enough, there is a Revs program at Stanford University. The program is an academic interdisciplinary project that focuses on the automobile as a technical, industrial and aesthetic human achievement, as well as a social change agent and powerful historical force. You can learn more about the Revs Stanford program at revs.stanford.edu.