The Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring are the cornerstones of North American sports car racing and, together, are known as the “Florida 36”. The 56th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway was held on January 27 – 28 and dates back to 1962 while on March 17, Sebring will hold its 66th 12 Hour. In that time, no manufacturer has won the two events more often than Porsche. The German sports car marque holds the record for most victories at Daytona (22 overall and 77 class) and Sebring (18 and 70). They have won the “Florida 36” an unprecedented 14 times (1968, ‘71, ‘73, ‘77, ’78 – ‘87).
The first victory for Porsche on the former airfield at Sebring came in 1960 when Hans Herrmann and Oliver Gendebien piloted a Porsche 718 RS 60 to victory. Hermann returned in 1968 to race the Porsche 907 prototype that had already scored victory at Daytona – it was Porsche’s first sweep of the Florida 36.
Famous Porsches and Porsche drivers pepper the top of the Sebring result sheets through the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and into the 21st century. The roster of overall Porsche victories in the history of Sebring includes Vic Elford in a 917 (1971) as well as Hurley Haywood, first in a Porsche Carrera (‘73) and then a 935 in ‘81. Both were Florida 36 winners in each of those years. Al Holbert raced a Carrera to a Sebring win in ‘76 and a 935, with Haywood, to the “36” title in ‘81. Brian Redman’s 1978 Florida 36 crown in a 935 started a streak of 10-straight Sebring wins for Porsche. A.J. Foyt, the 2018 Sebring Grand Marshall, added to his legend by winning both events driving a 962 in 1985. The ‘85 victory would be the final major race victory for “Super Tex” as a driver.
Two Sebring titles for Hans Joachim Stuck (‘86, ‘88) in the great GTP-era 962 included the Daytona-Sebring double once (‘86) while Bobby Rahal’s 1987 win driving a 962 was the last in a streak of Porsche Florida 36 titles, a string that ended at ten-straight overall victories in both races.
In 2008, Romain Dumas (France), Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Emmanuel Collard (France) drove an RS Spyder to the last overall win for Porsche at Sebring. No Florida 36 was possible during that era as the two events were not under a shared sanctioning body.
Since 2011, Porsche has focused on the GT categories utilizing variants of the 911 making overall victories nearly impossible. Forebears to the current Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM class) and 911 GT3 R (GTD class) have 42 class victories at Daytona and 31 at Sebring.