NHRA and IMSA will have thrilling 'Spring Break' racing in Florida
As college students begin their annual migration to Florida for Spring Break, races in the Sunshine State take on a personality all their own -- a little faster, a little louder and a "gotta see it to believe it" party atmosphere. This weekend, the NHRA Gatornationals and the iconic IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring bring it all together across multiple FOX Sports platforms.
Riding the momentum of fantastic final-round finishes and early season, double-digit viewership growth, the NHRA makes its East Coast debut in the University of Florida's Gator country with Doug Kalitta atop Top Fuel, Ron Capps leading Funny Car and teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson dominating Pro Stock. And for the first time this season, Pro Stock Motorcycles join the party, as the two-wheelers make their 2016 season debut at Gainesville Raceway.
"I think what makes the Gatornationals so special, aside from many record-setting moments and the rich tradition itself, is the electricity that only our mass of fans can create," said FOX Sports analyst and two-time Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon. "The Thursday night (Don Gartlits' International Drag Racing Hall of Fame) reception and the excitement around Pro Stock bikes making their first appearance of the year all add to the anticipation and prestige of the event."
Pedregon is part of a FOX Sports broadcast team that includes Dave Rieff (play-by-play) and pit reporters Bruno Massel and Jamie Howe. Howe actually works the "Spring Break Double" this weekend, reporting at both the Gatornationals and 12 Hours OF Sebring.
And about 200 miles southeast of Gainesville, sports cars take to the track at historic Sebring International Raceway for world-class endurance racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's 12 Hours of Sebring. With equal parts high-tech motor sports, Spring Break fever and a dash of Mardi Gras thrown in for good measure, the grueling halfway-around-the-clock event serves as the second race in the grand slam of endurance racing, following the Rolex 24 At Daytona and preceding the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. Within IMSA, the Rolex 24, Sebring 12 and Petit Le Mans are joined by the Sahlen Six Hours of the Glen in making up the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.
"You know when a sporting event has gained a certain 'happening' status when people attend regardless of the actual sport being played at the time," said driver Justin Bell, who will serve as a FOX Sports features reporter at Sebring. "Not saying that the vast majority of fans attending the legendary Sebring 12-hour race in Florida aren't there for the crazy fast cars and sexy drivers -- but there is and always has been a contingent of fans that are there to party! Where else can you go for all-day sensory overload on private property â where basically almost anything goes?"
Bell is joined on the FOX Sports broadcast team by hosts Greg Creamer and Calvin Fish, analysts Brian Till and Tommy Kendall and Andrew Marriott and Howe in the pits.
FOX Sports 'Spring Break' racing schedule (all times ET and subject to change); Note: Full 12 Hours OF Sebring, as well as four on-board camera feeds, available through FOX Sports GO:
Friday, March 18
· NHRA Gatornationals Qualifying (9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, FS1 & FOX Sports GO, SDD)
Saturday, March 19
· IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring (10:30 AM to Noon, FS1 & FOX Sports GO, Live)
· IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring (Noon to 7:00 PM, FS2 & FOX Sports GO, Live)
· NHRA Gatornationals Qualifying (6:30 PM to 7:30 PM, FS1 & FOX Sports GO, SDD)
· IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring (7:00 PM to 10 PM, FOX Sports GO, Live)
· IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring (10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, FS2 & FOX Sports GO)
Sunday, March 20
· NHRA Gatornationals Finals (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, FS1 & FOX Sports GO, Live)
To follow the events on Twitter: #NHRAonFOX, @NHRA, @IMSA, #Sebring12