Ferrari’s legacy, future on display as 488 GT3 wins Sebring debut

Photo: Scuderia Corsa

Ferrari found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne, but found a way to secure a victory from the agony of defeat on the other side of the world at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

The new Ferrari 488 GT3, incidentally, made its worldwide debut at both venues – at Albert Park in an Australian GT Championship race and on the reformed airfield at Sebring International Raceway for the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

The 488 GT3 had got the pole position in Melbourne but was bounced after failing post-qualifying technical inspection – more here from Speedcafe.

Luckily Jeff Segal atoned hours later on the other side of the world with the pole in the GT Daytona class at Sebring for the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari he’d share with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, and so that registers in the record books as the first worldwide pole for the new car.

The team ran the previous generation car, the still venerable Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, at Daytona as the new 488 wasn’t ready yet but then completed good test work at Michelotto before coming Stateside.

Photo: Scuderia Corsa
Photo: Scuderia Corsa

The GTD race was a barnburner from start to finish with anywhere from 10 to 13 of the 20 cars in class on the lead lap at any point. Scuderia Corsa stayed on the lead lap throughout and then once in the final hour or so of the race, made its charge from sixth to the lead.

The ultimate winning move came from Balzan in the final 10 minutes of the race, as he got around Jens Klingmann in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 following a run from Turn 7 through to Turn 10. The Italian got Klingmann on the outside of the right-handed Turn 10, which set him up to have the preferred inside line from there into Turn 11 and beyond.

The win comes 60 years after Eugenio Castellotti, another Italian driver, and Juan Manuel Fangio drove a Ferrari 860 Monza to Ferrari’s first victory at the 1956 12 Hours of Sebring.

“It’s one of the top wins for me in my career,” Balzan said post-race. “I’m really happy, especially with it being the 60th anniversary of another Italian and for Ferrari.

“It’s something special. I have to thank my teammates. You know you have to stay out on the slicks when it was wet. They gave me the car in P2.

“We decided not to change the tires, so as to not lose too much time. We had a nice fight with the BMW. But you’re fighting for the win. It was hard. We, then, did a great job in traffic. The last five minutes was everything for the full 12 hours.”

Balzan, Segal and Nielsen. Photo: Scuderia Corsa
Balzan, Segal and Nielsen. Photo: Scuderia Corsa

It was also a huge win for Nielsen, her first in the series, and for Segal, who now has a Daytona and Sebring win in his career.

Segal, arguably Ferrari’s top American driver (not factory employed but has been affiliated with the brand for several years), has spearheaded much of the running Stateside the last five or so years.

Ferrari’s overall success at this race also entered the post-race dialogue, as the iconic Ferrari 333 SP had been the last car to win overall at Daytona and Sebring back-to-back in 1998 with Doran/Moretti Racing and the trio of Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi and Giampiero Moretti (with Arie Luyendyk joining at Daytona).

Tequila Patron ESM pulled that feat off in the overall ranks with its Ligier JS P2 Honda, driven by Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)