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Andy Hall sent out a link to this hip piece done by a long time local beat
writer in Naples, Florida. I dropped a note to Tom Rife of The Naples Daily
News asking if we could run it on SCP as it explains perfectly as to why
Sebring matters so much. " Thanks" replied Tom. So if you already know then
this article is a reminder and if you don't then think of it as getting some
education.

Kerry Morse

Article reproduced courtesy and copyright of Tom Rife and The Naples Daily News



Tom Rife: Sebring race holds its blip on the radar


By TOM RIFE, tdrife@naplesnews.com
March 7, 2004

The New York Yankees baseball team isn't the only Evil Empire in sports.

There are those who see NASCAR as the purest form of bedevilment.

And for good reason, they exhort.

For in all its sponsor loyalty, technical TV gadgets and high-dollar
attraction, NASCAR's impact on motor racing as a whole has all but
transformed other once-popular series into a tight-knit entourage of second
and third cousins.

Those in sports car circles, especially, feel shoved off to the side. Much
of the corporate backing they once enjoyed has been siphoned off. For the
most part, it's the deep pockets who support their own habit along with a
smattering of factory-backed operations.

Be not fooled, however.

Sports car racing endures, with pockets of traditionalists who would just as
soon buckle into cramped quarters on a curvy road course as they would have
the power of an F-18 fighter at their fingertips.

Why else would 100,000-plus turn out Saturday, March 20 at the Sebring
International Raceway as they have done, by the way, for the last 51
years?

The Twelve Hours of Sebring is a motor sports fixture, a 10:30 a.m. to 10:30
p.m. spectacle that has spun many a thrilling tale of speed, drama and
sportsmanship.

Some surely will say it's not so much the on-track action that draws the
throngs as it is "The Party" that is engulfed by the 3.7-mile, 17-turn
circuit, the oldest road course in North America.

Perhaps they are right, because let's face it, not even the most pious
gear-grinder can focus on who's winning and who's not for 12 hours without,
shall we say, a diversion.

That having been said, the SPEED Channel will carry every lap of the race
live. There will be flag-to-flag radio coverage on the Internet.

IMSA, of course, is the sanctioning acronym, with two classes of American Le
Mans Series sports cars involved along with the Grand Touring Sport (GTS)
and Grand Touring (GT) divisions.

Past winners are legendary: A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Stirling
Moss, Dan Gurney, Juan Manuel Fangio, Al Holbert and Bobby Rahal to name a
few.

This year, charismatic former Indy 500 champ Danny Sullivan, now 53, will
return to racing to drive a Ferrari 575 GTC that is said to be the first GT
racing car assembled by the Ferrari factory in 30 years.

For the sentimental types, Sullivan and his wife, Brenda (she was living in
Naples at the time) experienced their first date when they dined at a
restaurant in Old Sebring in January of 1995.

He was testing there in a CART car. Behind the scenes, matchmakers were hard
at work.

"She called and asked if she could come up and watch testing," Sullivan
tells the story. "I don't remember much about the restaurant because we were
all goo goo and ga ga for each other.

We've been together ever since."

So there you go:

Not every man's love affair is destined to with the automobile.

Not even those at Sebring.





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