Schmied Races to Historic Victory at Sebring 24

October 31st 2021 – Sebring, FL.

Kenny Schmied and the Will-to-Win Racing #983 Porsche Cayman were victorious at Sebring International for the first ever 24-hour race at the famed home of American endurance racing. After two full trips around the clock and 539 laps of competition, the #983 Will-to-Win Porsche completed over 2,000 race miles during what at the time was the longest race distance under competition ever held at the historic circuit. Continuing a proud tradition at Sebring of Porsche being on the top step, the drivers of the #983 – Aidan Yoder, Aidan Kenny, Tony McIntosh, and Kenny Schmied – ran a perfectly clean race with no contact, no penalties, and no mistakes on their way to claiming their historic victory.

With triple points on grab due to the rare 24-hour format, the team was excited to come into the weekend. For the first time in Sebring’s history, competitors would be racing into the sunrise at a place that’s been famous for it’s sunsets since the 1950’s. All four drivers of the #983 had driven the circuit before, and three drivers had participated in a private testing program that W2W put on in September. The team was excited, but had little idea what to expect as no one has ever raced for 24-hours at Sebring.

The team came into Friday with the desire to start in a good position, but with the understanding that in a 24-hour race, grid position wouldn’t matter much if at all after a full day of racing had passed. Schmied had his qualifying sessions after lunch and in the late evening. During his afternoon session, Schmied had variable weather which produced a partly dry / partly wet and spitting track, which ultimately prevented him from putting in a fast lap. “It was spitting on half the track and dry on the other half, it was constantly changing. I was having to adjust the ABS multiple times per lap and never knew what to expect in any particular corner. It was challenging and I learned a lot, but it wasn’t a great session to set a fast lap in.” said Schmied.


The night session went better for Schmied. A dry track, cooler air, and cooler track temperatures meant conditions were ripe for a purple lap. Schmied drove hard and continuously improved his lap times, but ultimately never got a truly clean lap. On his fastest lap – a 2:26 flat – Schmied encountered traffic into Turn 13, which hurt his exit. The 2:26 was still a decent lap for the team, but not the fastest of the cars drivers. The #983 Porsche Cayman ultimately qualified P7 for the 24-hour race.

“It’s so exciting to be here for the first ever 24-hour race at Sebring.” Schmied said. “I still can’t believe that in 71 years no one has ever done this before. It’s really hard in 2021 to be a pioneer in anything, let alone in motorsports, and let alone in amateur motorsports. None of us know what to expect, and that’s a really exciting and rare thing in racing. We’ve got bets within the team around how many cars are going to finish the race. Everyone has a different opinion because nobody knows.” 

Aidan Kenny started the car on a slightly wet and drying track at noon eastern on Saturday to kick off the historic race. As the drivers jockeyed for position and grip on a quickly drying track, Aidan Kenny steadily moved up the field to finish his stint in P1. Schmied got in the car next for a double-stint which was immediately extended when the red flag was flown right after Schmied was strapped into the car. Sitting in pit lane, strapped into the car for 20 solid minutes, Schmied planned his attack. Upon joining the race under full course yellow conditions, Schmied took the green flag and quickly made his was past both in-class and out-of-class traffic, maintaining the car’s P1 classification and extending the gap to P2.

Two and a half hours later, Schmied got out of the car and handed the reigns over to Aidan Yoder. Yoder would continue the charge, followed by Tony McIntosh and then the plan was for the order to repeat three times throughout the race. “It was a great first stint.” Schmied stated. “I did some testing here back in September which I think really prepared me for this. And because it’s a 24-hour race, people are being respectful for the most part, which is a nice thing. It’s such a fun track, and doing a double stint where you never get passed is a solid bonus.”

Now up three laps on the field, Schmied got back in the car at around 10:00 PM eastern for the second of his third double-stints of the race. Schmied charged through traffic and kept the racing clean and maintained the team’s measurable lead. After Schmied’s second stint, it was planned for the team to replace the brakes on the car as well as the tires. Having been in the car for one and a half hours, Schmied found the brake pedal getting long and soft, and radioed the team to inform them. In contact with the pit wall out of turn 16, Schmied stated that there was enough meat left on the brakes for one more lap to give the crew some time to prepare. By turn 10 of the following lap the brake pedal was nearing the floor so Schmied reduced his pace in order to bring the car into the pits safely. Skidding into the pit stop as the rear brakes locked up, Schmied exited the car and the crew completed the brake and tire change in just ten minutes. Aidan Yoder got in the car to continue the charge. Having several hours off, Schmied headed back to his hotel for a quick shower and a two-hour nap.

MB8_6070Waking at 4am, Schmied recalls “I was really nervous to check the live timing page after I woke up from my nap, but I was thrilled to see we were still in first place and still leading by three laps.”. The overnight sessions were not without their moments, as Aidan Kenny experienced a rear tire blowout into the braking zone at turn 17. Masterfully controlling the car as it headed towards the barrier, Aidan kept the car safe just inches from the wall and immediately brought the car in for a quick tire change. “It’s how you handle situations like that that are going to matter at the end of 24 hours.” Schmied said of Aidan Kenny’s efforts. “Aidan did a great job of keeping the car safe when he was thrown a big curveball.” 

Suiting up for his final double-stint of the race, Schmied stood by the pit wall as the first signs of early morning light slowly crept into the sky. At a place that’s been famous for its sunsets for over 71 years, Kenny was about to take the wheel and drive into the first ever sunrise during competition at the birthplace of American endurance racing. “It’s quite an incredible feeling.” Schmied added. “There are so many firsts this weekend that it’s hard to keep track of them all, but racing into the sunrise at Sebring is something I am very excited about.” Schmied got behind the wheel shortly after 7:00 AM eastern and just 20 minutes prior to sunrise.

Quickly on the pace, Schmied was soon on the rear bumper of the car in second place about to put them four-laps down. In communication with the team radio over strategy, the team asked Schmied stay behind the Prosport Competition Aston Martin while saving tires and fuel. “I had pace on the Aston and could have gotten by, so when I was asked to follow them around I used it as an opportunity to stay off the kerbs and to save some fuel. There wasn’t really a reason to push things given how the race was going, so I was happy to sit there and knock off the laps while maintaining the car and our lead gap.” said Schmied. 

A short two hours later and Schmied was out of the car for the final time at the Sebring 24. A single stint by Aidan Yoder, which saw Aidan pit unscheduled for a new tire due to a vibration – and a single stint well-executed by Tony McIntosh would seal the deal and bring the Will-to-Win Racing #983 Porsche GT4 home on the top step overall at the first ever 24-hour race at Sebring International Raceway. As Aidan Yoder and Kenny Schmied climbed to the top of the pit fence to congratulate their car taking the checkered flag, Schmied and Yoder let out screams of excitement as a full days worth of emotions came pouring out. After heading to impound and passing tech, the team took to the podium to celebrate their historic victory. “I still can’t believe it.” Schmied stated. “It’s hard to wrap my head around what we’ve just accomplished here. This one is going to take a while to sink in!”

Schmied heads to Austin Texas and the Circuit of the Americas in early December to close out the 2021 season.

Photos from the event can be found below or at the photo gallery page here.