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

Vettel, Raikkonen complete hot laps in Ferrari F1 cars at Daytona

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Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed their final Formula 1 run-outs of 2016 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, taking part in a special demonstration for the Ferrari Finali Mondiali.

The Finali Mondiali acts as the world final for the continental Ferrari Challenge series, bringing together competitors from the North America, Europe and Asia Pacific championships.

As part of the weekend’s running, Vettel and Raikkonen were on hand to complete demonstration laps behind the wheel of recent Ferrari F1 cars, with Vettel also completing some donuts in front of the main granstand at Daytona.

Here are some of the videos and pictures from the event.

Sebastian Vettel dismisses suggestion he could replace Rosberg at Mercedes

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP is congratulated by Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari on the podium during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Sebastian Vettel has brushed off suggestions that he could take Nico Rosberg’s vacant Formula 1 seat at Mercedes next year, saying his focus lies on working with Ferrari to improve on their 2016 season.

Rosberg sensationally announced on Friday that he would be retiring from F1 with immediate effect, just five days after winning his maiden World Championship.

Rosberg’s move has sent the driver market into a late flux, with Mercedes’ Niki Lauda claiming that half of the F1 grid has been in touch regarding the seat despite many of them having contracts.

Vettel has been named as a possible candidate for Rosberg’s seat despite having one year remaining on his Ferrari deal, but when speaking at the Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway, the German stressed he is focused on his current commitments at Maranello.

“I think it’s no secret the fact that me and Kimi Raikkonen have a contract for next season,” Vettel is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Kimi and I are already committed. In 2017 we will be competitive.

“We have not reached the goal this year, but now it will be important to do the job at the factory in the next two months.

“I am confident that we will definitely present an improved package.”

Vettel signed off with a message to Rosberg, wishing the retiring champion “happy holidays!”

Vettel finished 2016 fourth in the drivers’ championship without a win to his name as Ferrari struggled to keep up with Mercedes and Red Bull in the pecking order.

Mercedes is set to begin its search for a replacement on Monday, with the other big-name driver besides Vettel linked to the seat being McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Should Mercedes want to promote one of its junior drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon are both also available, although neither has more than a season of F1 experience.

Hamilton not chasing number one status at Mercedes after Rosberg exit

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walks in the Paddock during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton says he is not chasing number one driver status at Mercedes as the team begins its search for a replacement for Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg edged out Hamilton for the F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi last Sunday before sensationally announcing his immediate retirement from the sport five days later.

Mercedes has said it will take its time when looking for a replacement for Rosberg, with the majority of the F1 grid tied up contractually for 2017.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have both been linked with the Mercedes drive in the wake of Rosberg’s departure, leading to questions about whether Hamilton would want another big-name star alongside him.

Mercedes has always stressed that it does not have a number one driver, and Hamilton said that he would not insist on that changing when his new teammate arrives.

“I’ve never been a driver to ever request that,” Hamilton said when asked about number one status.

“I know a lot of the other drivers Sebastian, Fernando make sure that’s in their contract.

“I’ve just always asked to have equal rights. As long as we’re treated fairly, it doesn’t really matter who’s alongside you.

“But of course, we’ve got great team bosses, who I’m sure will choose the right people to be representing the brand.”

Whoever replaces Rosberg will become Hamilton’s fifth teammate in F1, the Briton having previously worked with Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button during his time at McLaren before joining Mercedes in 2013.

Rosberg: Hamilton’s late-season form ‘the best Lewis I’ve ever seen’

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo neads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track  during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg believes that Lewis Hamilton produced some of the best performances of his career towards the end of the 2016 Formula 1 season when the Briton had nothing to lose in the championship fight.

Rosberg clinched his maiden F1 drivers’ championship by five points in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, defeating Hamilton for the first time during their time as teammates.

Rosberg closed out the season with four straight second place finishes, with Hamilton’s run of victories in the same period not being enough to catch up in the standings.

Speaking in a video produced by Mercedes after his championship win, Rosberg said that he felt the most pressure after his final win of the season in Japan, the result that meant he could wrap up the title without taking another victory.

“The changing moment was Suzuka for me, when all of a sudden I had the 33-point lead and that meant it was in my hands, and it’s mine to lose, because it was enough to do second-second-second and third,” Rosberg said.

“That’s when really the pressure started for me because it became real, the chance to win the championship and to beat Lewis. It was real.”

Rosberg was only assured of the title when he crossed the finish line in Abu Dhabi, with Hamilton going deliberately slow in a bid to back the German into the chasing pack.

“Abu Dhabi was intense. It was the most intense experience I’ve ever had in a race car,” Rosberg said.

“Even qualifying, the laps in qualifying, not easy really. And for sure it has an impact on your performance. It’s not possible that you do the same performance as if you’re in Lewis’ position where he has nothing to lose.”

Rosberg believes that the lack of pressure brought the very best out of Hamilton, as he closed out the campaign with four consecutive victories from pole position.

“That’s why he got the pole positions and why I was second in the last couple of races because he’s free, has no weight and nothing to lose,” Rosberg said.

“It was the best Lewis I’ve ever seen, the last few races, because not only was he completely free, but also the most determined and motivated ever, working as hard as ever.

“[It was] massively difficult to beat him in those circumstances.”

Rosberg announced on Friday that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect, meaning we have likely seen the last of his rivalry with Hamilton in F1.