Bob Tullius, legendary Jaguar race car driver, will be present at March 17th’s 12 Hours of Sebring event in Sebring, Florida. This annual endurance race for sports cars happens at Sebring International Raceway and acts as a leg of endurance racing’s informal Triple Crown, along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Daytona’s Rolex 24. The event has been a showcase for the efforts of many of the sport’s most important participants, including Tullius himself.
It’s certainly easy for this veteran to attend, since his office, his airplane hangar and his home are all located in Sebring. In his past fifteen years of residence in Sebring, however, he has frequently scheduled out-of-town trips during this event, probably to avoid the more than 100,000 fans who invade his hometown.
This popular event often includes fans camping out for extended periods inside the green of the race track. Both RVs and cars are allowed into the track and the camping starts several days before the race, so the fans often end up being disruptive. Recently, local Spring Break attractions have been set up specifically to draw college students in Florida on their spring vacation in to see the race. Visitors can buy tickets ranging from full-access passes to tickets for the Saturday race only.
Tullius and Sebring, Florida
While Tullius is a racing hero who founded the legendary Group 44 racing team almost 50 years ago, he doesn’t live in Sebring for its racing history. Instead, he’s there because of the love for airplanes he discovered in the late 1960s. While his love for sports car racing and team ownership decreased over the years, his interest in planes grew significantly. Over the past few decades, he’s owned a wide range of planes. That includes one of the most sought-after exotics: the P-51 Mustang, a single-seat fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War.
An Impressive Collection
Tullius also maintains another half a dozen planes in his private hangar, as well as several of Group 44’s race cars. The hangar collection includes the famous Jaguar XJR-7 that Chip Robinson and Bob Tullius shared during the mid-1980s, while Tullius was transitioning from actively racing to a retirement full of aircraft and activity. Despite this legendary driver’s age, he hasn’t slowed down.
Visitors to Tullius’s hangar will see his large Beechcraft King Air twin parked front and center. It’s still painted in Group 44’s trademark bright white with lime and dark green stripes and is located between a Waco biplane and a T-6 single-engine military training aircraft. This plane features twin-turboprop engines and was the first aircraft in its class.
Bob Tullius has logged more than seven thousand hours of air time as the pilot in command, as well as many hours flying with others. That’s the equivalent of spending 9 1/2 months in the air. He still averages about a hundred hours of airtime per month, most of them spent flying the King Air.
According to Tullius, who will be turning 82 later this year, he doesn’t like to go up and simply fly around for the fun of it. When he goes up in a plane, it’s because he’s planning to go somewhere. Tullius’s most common destinations include the Kissimmee Airport just south of Orlando, where he sometimes has lunch. He also takes his plane to the Caribbean on occasion, usually on vacation with his girlfriend of 52 years.
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