Twelve hours on the track at Sebring, it's said, is the equivalent of a lifetime – or, at least, to 24 hours – anywhere else. There's a reason, after all, that American teams often prepare for Le Mans at this hot, jagged former airstrip in the dead center of Florida.
The track is relentless in its punishment: the rough, concrete surface rattles the teeth out of driver's skulls and jars components on the cars. Daytime temperatures in this part of the Sunshine State in mid-March might only be 85 degrees, but on the track they soar into the triple digits, testing the endurance of both driver and machine. Simply finishing the 12 Hours of Sebring gives a team a reasonable chance of winning.
And yet, few would suggest resurfacing this track or abandoning the event for better climes. This race, quite simply, provides learnings that far exceed its toll.
Besides, gladiators aren't forged in controlled climates.