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Enduring: Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring Celebrate Anniversaries in 2012

Submitted by on December 20, 2011

1962 Daytona Continental

2012 is to be a big year for classic races, with the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Twelve Hours of Sebring all set to celebrate significant anniversaries.

First off the line is the 24 Hours of Daytona, which will celebrate its 50th birthday this coming January. Celebrations will include a display of classic cars that have won the race, including the Lotus-Climax 19B that won the inaugural Daytona Continental in 1962 with a blown engine.

At that time the race was a three-hour long endurance and drivers had to cross the line after the time had elapsed in order to be classified. Dan Gurney was in the car with a one minute, forty second lead when his engine blew in the final minutes of the race. Knowing he’d not make another lap if he crossed the line before the race finished he parked the car on the high side of the banking before the finish line, turned back down the hill when the time was up and coasted over the line for the win.

Sebring 1952

A circuit with a sprawling and diverse character, up next is the 60th anniversary of the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. The 2012 running of the race will kick off the FIA World Endurance championship for the year and include a gathering of cars that have won the race since its inauguration in 1952.

The one to top them all will be the 80th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will light up the classic circuit at 15:00 on the 16th of June, 2012. Way back in ’23 a field of 33 entries took to Circuit de la Sarthe and kicked off the timeless test of endurance and speed. The winners, André Lagache and René Léonard, completed 128 laps and covered just over 2200 kilometres in their Chenard et Walcker.

The great race has proven some of motorsport’s most legendary marques over its 80 years and been the setting for the finest cars, bravest drivers and tightest teams to battle it out in some of the toughest racing the sport has seen. Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Jaguar and Bentley have all been hugely successful over the years, as have many others.

Bentley were the kings of the early race, winning the second ever running in 1924 with a Bentley 3 Liter and pulling off a four-year long winning streak from 1927 to 1930. They won the race again over 70 years later in 2003 with the Bentley Speed 8.

Here’s to another 50, 60 and 80 years of great endurance racing!

Images via Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway

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