Photos courtesy AWOL Photo

Patrick Long’s charity go-kart race a huge winner post-Sebring 12-hour

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Photo courtesy AWOL Photo

On Saturday, Patrick Long won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the GT Le Mans class. On Sunday, he won the unofficial “post-Sebring good guy” award.

Long’s third annual Pro-Am Kart Race at Dan Andersen’s Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, Fla., near Tampa, was held the Sunday after this year’s 12-hour endurance classic.

Featuring a bevy of all-star pro drivers – Sebastien Bourdais, Jan Heylen, Bryan Sellers, Katherine Legge, Colin Braun, Martin Plowman, Tommy Kendall, Tristan Vautier and more among them – and an open format to where anyone who wanted to show up could drive alongside them, the event is designed purely to raise money for the All Children’s Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The event ran from noon to 4 p.m., with the 72-lap race approximately making for a 1.5-hour enduro. The format featured 12 teams of 5 drivers, including one pro per team (a maximum of 24 laps by the pro). A minimum of 5 pit stops was required with driver changes and 2-lap qualifying preceded the race.

Additional parts of the day included the Cars and Coffee Car show in in the morning, food trucks and a live band present, live silent auctions and open practice all morning for all entries, their families and friends, for paid/donating participants.

All proceeds from the event go towards the hospital for pediatric treatment, education and research. More information can be found at http://www.kart4kids.com and http://www.allkids.org.

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Photo courtesy AWOL Photo

“This event has come from humble beginnings, we just wanted to grow it organically and see where it went,” Long told MotorSportsTalk this week. “After our third annual event it seems our biggest challenge will be accommodating everyone who wants to come – it’s open to everybody.”

The first year, a check raised was in the neighborhood of $6,000. Last year, that was around $13,000. This year, it topped the $50,000 mark.

“This started as a round table chat with some of my friends at the Suncoast Region of the Porsche Club of America,” Long said. “The idea was to help continue motorsport’s contribution to All Children’s Hospital in honor of Dan Wheldon. Dan was a big karter who often ran at Andersen and was a huge supporter of All Children’s. The concept made perfect sense to me, but I knew these events aren’t easy to pull together.”

“The goal is try to make it a post-Sebring fixture and make it the go-to Sunday afternoon deal,” he added. “Drive up at 10am from Sebring, get into Palmetto about noon and fly out of Tampa at 6pm.”

Considering Orlando’s the other option to get home, this is a wise suggestion.

Alas, of the pro driver turnout, most were active in Saturday’s 12-hour. Bourdais, who needed to get to Birmingham, Ala. for the Verizon IndyCar Series test on Monday, still raced anyway. Legge, who was able to stay, offered her insights on the day.

“It was such an amazing event for a great cause,” she said. “Everyone involved had so much fun; it was a great way to end the weekend. I have much admiration for Pat and the organization, and all their efforts.”

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Photo courtesy AWOL Photo

Sellers and Patrick Dempsey, who both race for Porsche customer teams in the TUDOR Championship, were among others donated items to the event as well.

Now it’s about continuing to grow the event, raise money for children and appeal to local race fans.

“Everyone’s welcome, you make a donation then have fun and drive,” he said. “We’re not asking anything except to come out and have fun. We had a bunch of wives and girlfriends racing, too.”

“We sold out weeks in advance without any official PR or marketing. This is about contributing to a good cause and giving back, and having fun on an afternoon.”

SPONSORS INCLUDE:

  • Major: Patron Spirits, Team Pelfrey
  • Semi-Major: Bert Smith Porsche, Reeves Porsche, Porsche Drivers Selection, Rally Convenience Stores, Bradenton Herald, Alegra Motorsport, Andersen Race Park, Motorsport Illustrated News, GMG Racing, The Dikman Company, Manatee Educational TV, AWOL Photo, European Performance, Bright House Networks, Mariner Car Wash, Apparel World, Vita Vining Hermann Denton Group

Button ‘almost there’ on deciding Formula 1 future

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda sits in his car in the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Jenson Button says he is “almost there” on deciding his future in Formula 1 as McLaren continues to deliberate its driver line-up for 2017.

Button is the most experienced driver currently racing in F1, and has been with McLaren since 2010.

Fernando Alonso is set to remain with McLaren for next season, but the team is yet to decide whether it will retain Button or promote junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne into a full-time seat.

Button has been linked with a return to Williams – the team he made his F1 debut with in 2000 – should McLaren drop him.

The 2009 F1 world champion is yet to decide whether or not he will continue in F1 next year, but feels he is close to a decision.

“I am almost there with my thought process and you will hear about it soon. I can’t put a timescale on it, but it will be soon enough,” Button told Press Association.

“I did think about it lot [over the summer]. I didn’t have a lot of time to lie on a sun-lounger and think about it to be fair.

“I was busy, but yes, of course, I thought about it.”

Button’s last race win came at the end of 2012 with McLaren, and has not finished on the podium since the start of 2014 thanks to difficulties with the team’s Honda engine last year.

Although McLaren is on the rise, Button stressed that he wants to be in a car that is capable of battling at the front of the pack in 2017.

“I have always said that if I feel like I can be in a car that is fighting for wins I will definitely stay. I think any racing driver would,” Button said.

“But if I am not and I feel like I am not, there is nothing else for me to achieve. I will go and play darts instead.

“I can’t just sit on the beach. I will do all sorts of racing after F1 whether it is in racing cars, push bikes, or triathlons because I am a competitive person and I always want to win.

“So, that is what I want to do. Something I can fight for wins in.”

Button has been linked with a move into the FIA World Endurance Championship should he decide to call time on his F1 career, and is also likely to take up rallycross in some form, following in the footsteps of his father, John.

A roof popped off a BMW M6 GTLM in IMSA’s VIR first practice

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Photo courtesy of IMSA
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First practice for this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge, a GT Le Mans and GT Daytona-only round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at VIRginia International Raceway is in the books.

Fastest times were set by Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (1:43.232, GTLM and overall) and Madison Snow in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (1:45.722, GTD).

Bamber told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam, “It’s a good way to start the weekend. It’s a new surface; it already seems quicker than last year. The guys at VIR have done a great job to repave it. It’s been pretty difficult the last couple races for us.”

But the session was more notable because it featured a weird interruption, when the roof off the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM popped off on course.

It left Dirk Werner needing to bring the car, sans the roof and rear window, into the pit lane but luckily without further damage following the inadvertent convertible debut of the car.

Werner’s befuddled co-driver, Bill Auberlen, attempted to explain the situation to Adam.

“I’m telling you… I’m dying to ask if it was cooler inside the cockpit!” Auberlen told IMSA Radio, noting how hot it is on track, as well (ambient temperatures are expected in the mid-90s with track temperatures in the 110-115 range).

“So no, we did not plan on this. This is very odd. It’s bizarre how the roof would blow off the thing.

“I went in the grass once. Couldn’t get the downshfits accomplished. Now this. Maybe we get all the troubles out now.

“But now the roof blew off? No idea how, it’s just bad luck.”

Here’s pics and a few tweets about the abnormal incident:

Dover agrees to sell Nashville track to real estate company

NASHVILLE, TN - JULY 15:  Scott Dixon driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, and Dario Francitti driver of the #27 Canadian Club Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda, lead the field during the IRL Indycar Series Firestone Indy 200 on July 15, 2007 at the Nashville Superspeedway  in Lebanon, Tennessee.  (Photo by  Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Dover Motorsports Inc. has a new buyer for the Nashville Superspeedway in a commercial real estate development company.

The motorsports company said Thursday that Panattoni Development Company will buy the superspeedway for $27.5 million and also take over Dover’s obligations under bonds issued in 1999 to help build infrastructure supporting the track. The bonds currently have a balance of $17.2 million, and Panattoni will replace Dover Motorsports’ letter of credit with its own.

Dover expects the sale to close in 2017 pending zoning approvals.

This is the second time Dover announced a buyer of the 1.33-mile concrete track about 30 miles east of Nashville that closed in 2011. Dover announced in May 2014 a deal selling to NeXovation Inc. worth nearly $46 million, which later fell through.

Rosberg praises Mercedes for ‘great job’ on F1 Halo

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Nico Rosberg has praised Mercedes for doing a “great job” in designing the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection that may be introduced to Formula 1 in 2018.

Following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and IndyCar’s Justin Wilson in 2015 from head injuries sustained while racing, the FIA has placed improving cockpit safety high on its agenda in 2016.

The Halo made its public debut in pre-season testing and underwent brief testing on race weekends before the F1 Strategy Group opted to delay its introduction until 2018 at the earliest.

Opening practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday saw the most extensive Halo test yet as Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo all completed laps with it fitted to their cars.

Rosberg set his fastest practice time using the Halo, and called its trial a “success” when reflecting on his running.

“The team have done a great job on the Halo. It doesn’t disturb me when driving,” Rosberg said.

“I could go fast straight away and even set the best time of the session with it this morning, so I think that was a success.”

Rosberg topped FP1 before focusing on race pace in second practice at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing the session in sixth place.

The German was pleased with his running, believing that tire management will be key come Sunday’s race.

“Car-wise we seem to be quick,” Rosberg said.

“The grid is a bit all over the place this afternoon with people doing different things with the tires. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the race. Long run pace will be important as you can overtake here.

“I don’t know how we’re looking yet – we’ll need to look into that.

“But there was a lot of tire degradation, so managing that on Sunday will be important.”