SEBRING, Fla. – Freedom Autosport will be racing at Sebring International Raceway for the first time when the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series heads there next weekend, but the team’s drivers have plenty of history there already. For Randy Pobst and Andrew Carbonell, who co-drive the No. 26 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, going to Sebring is something of a homecoming.
Pobst ran his first professional race at Sebring in 1985, driving in the Firestone Firehawk Series, the predecessor of the Continental Tire Series. The start of the race was actually delayed so Pobst could fuel his car—a minor pre-race oversight—and he went on to finish second by a bumper. It is still the closest finish in Pobst’s career.
Since that time, Pobst has logged plenty of laps at Sebring. He clinched the 1992 Firestone Firehawk championship there and has a long list of club races at the 3.74-mile circuit.
As for the Continental Tire Series making its Sebring debut, Pobst says, “It’s perfectly natural. The series should be at Sebring. I look forward to seeing how our Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5s will line up on that track. I think we’re going to be good in turn 17, which is one of the most important corners at Sebring. It’s the last corner on the track, and cornering speed is important there for a long time, and that’s what our MX-5s are good at.”
Carbonell’s history at Sebring began a little differently. The Miami, Florida, resident grew up attending club races at Sebring not as a driver, but as a supporter of his father Alfredo’s racing. Later, Carbonell got his Skip Barber license at Sebring and has since competed in his own club racing there. Lately, he has been doing a lot of driver coaching at Sebring.
“It’s exciting,” Carbonell says of the series debut at Sebring. “It’s a track I’ve always wanted to race with the series, so I finally get to check off racing professionally there! I think it will be great—there are a lot of turns and different surfaces, which will be strong points for the MX-5.”
In addition to the No. 26 Mazda, Freedom Autosport will also field the No. 25 Mazda MX-5 with drivers Mat and Mark Pombo.