Fish: Stint Like ‘Being in a Paint Shaker for a Couple of Hours and Trying to Maintain Focus’

CHARLOTTE, NC – This year’s 65th running of the MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING FUELED BY FRESH FROM FLORIDA, the second round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, features 46 entries representing 13 different manufacturers across four divisions — and that may not even be the most challenging part of the iconic once-around-the-clock endurance event.

Contested March 18 on parts of a former World War II U.S. Army Air Forces training facility landing field, Sebring International Raceway’s 17-turn, 3.74-mile road course provides a unique test of skill and concentration for some of the most accomplished racers in the world.

“Typically when drivers prepare for an event, they are thinking about how to beat the competition, but at Sebring, the racetrack may just be your biggest opponent,” said former racer Calvin Fish, who will provide analysis for FOX Sports, joining Greg Creamer and Brian Till in the broadcast booth. “(The surface) is notoriously bumpy … some drivers have said it’s like riding a mechanical bull for your stint and trying to hang on, or being put in a paint shaker for a couple of hours and trying to maintain focus. But that’s why they love it; it is the ultimate challenge.”

  • 12 HOURS OF SEBRING on FOX schedule (all times ET and subject to change): Saturday, March 18 (10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, FOX Sports GO & FOX Sports Racing; 12:30 PM to 11:00 PM, FS1, FOX Sports GO & FOX Sports Racing).

For Fish and the rest of the FOX Sports team, which includes pit reporters Justin Bell, Jamie Howe and Andrew Marriott, the challenges are equally daunting.

“You get up in the morning and you’re straight into race mode, unlike the 24-hour races that start later in the day,” Fish said. “Observing teams dealing with conditions which typically transition from milder temps in the early stages, to tough, hot, slick conditions in the afternoon and the cool nighttime sprint to the finish is fun, and gives us plenty to discuss.

“The visuals of the cars dealing with the bumps are incredible during the day and the glowing brake rotors at night are superb,” added Fish, a Class winner at Sebring and Daytona in 1990. “Sebring is the perfect combination of flat-out racing and an endurance event all at the same time. Obviously, over the years, the cars have become so much more reliable, but this track will test a car’s endurance to the max … it’s why teams from around the world, not just the U.S., test here during the off-season; to prove their machinery.”

FOX Sports coordinating producer Greg Oldham, who first worked Sebring in 1986, embraces the challenging production conditions.

“It’s basically an airport, so it’s flat,” Oldham said. “And with no elevation changes, it’s more of a challenge to see, find and pick up cars; especially ones that are closely following one another. At night, it’s dark — real dark. Much more so than at Le Mans or Daytona, making it even tougher to find cars.

“The bumpy, old concrete is not only tough on drivers and cars, but, especially when you’re hot and tired, tough on pit reporters as well,” adds Oldham, whose team will be working for 12.5 consecutive hours, 4.5 hours longer than any consecutive shift at the Rolex 24 earlier this year. “Regardless of all that, we love this grand old place, and we absolutely love covering this very unique race.”

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