Patrick Long, Flying Lizards Porsche driver, with Megham O'Donnell her mother Kathy and Karen Milek. [Eddie LePine Photo]
Sebring - Meeting Old Friends And Making New Ones
by Eddie LePine
Orlando, FL (March 18, 2012) - Audi returned to victory at Sebring
International Raceway for the first time since 2009 on Saturday with a
compelling win in the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Fueled by Fresh from Florida. The experienced trio of Dindo Capello, Tom
Kristensen and Allan McNish completed 301 laps in their Audi R18 to a
forceful four lap win in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series,
presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Sebring once again showed why it is the biggest sports car race in North
America and the opening race for American Le Mans Series and for the FIA
World Endurance Championship. This year, Sebring had to add on to pit lane
to hold more cars and the Sebring Raceway staff did a fantastic job of
having everything in place for all the extra teams and people that turned
out for the race's 60th Anniversary.
I pulled in on Tuesday -a day early because the teams were testing Monday
and Tuesday. I ran into ex-Formula One hot shoe, Nick Heidfeld. This year
finds Nick returning to sports car racing driving the Rebellion Racing car.
He has been racing F1 for the last 11 years and this is first round at
Sebring, which, of course, is not Monaco.
Heidfeld said he was looking forward to this season. The Rebellion Racing team has
made him very comfortable and he really liked the track, which he said
reminded him of his start in Go Karts -- a relaxed atmosphere but a
challenging track. I love the atmosphere at Sebring, meeting old friends
and chatting with folks that are so nice and much laid back. According to
Heidfeld, this race is a far cry from F1 where the pressure never lets up.
I also had the honor of taking Meghan O'Donnell and her mom Kathi behind the
scenes at Sebring. Meghan has Huntington's disease ("HD") - a progressive
degeneration of physical, cognitive and emotional abilities that leaves its
victims unable to walk or talk. Most families facing HD have members that
suffer from it and HD profoundly affects their lives -- emotionally,
socially and economically. The O'Donnell family has a website where you can
donate to the effort to find a cure for this illness - please go to THE
O'DONNELL'S WANT TO CURE-HD
Meghan O'Donnell and Kathi O'Donnell are big-time racing fans and they were
super enthusiastic to visit the pits at Sebring. Big thanks to Jan Shoop,
Sebring International registrar and Ken Breslauer, Media Director at Sebring
International Raceway for setting this up.
Meghan, Kathi and I made the rounds in the paddock area. Martyn Pass from
Audi, Dan Binks from Corvette and Patrick Long and his Flying Lizards
Porsche 911 GT3 team, took out time to show the O'Donnells around-- Meghan
really had a smile on her face.
The other event of the weekend was the Hall of Fame induction. Inductees
included, Hans Herrmann, Geoff Brabham, Denise McCluggage, Johnny O'Connell,
and Jim Downing, along with Chevrolet's Corvette. It sure was good to see
Emerson Fittipaldi and Jean Todt at dinner at the Cheateu Elan Hotel in
Sebring. Jean Todt stayed in Sebring for race day -not leaving for Australia