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.

source:
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

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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