** SEBRING CELEBRATION CONTINUES TO GROW -- The 50th anniversary celebration of America's oldest sports car race continued its growth this week as three more former winning cars joined the list of those that will be on hand for the festivities.
The 50th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, presented by Dodge, will be run on Saturday, March 16, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Raceway management has been working diligently to have as many former winning cars and drivers of the event as possible present.
Joining this week were the Porsche RS60 which won the 1960 running of the event when it was driven by Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien; the Porsche 917 which won the 1971 race driven by Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse; and a two-time winning car, the Porsche 962 that won the 1987 and 1988 races.
The car was driven to the 1987 victory by Bobby Rahal and Jochen Mass and was piloted in 1988 by Hans Stuck and Klaus Ludwig.
Ticket information for the Sebring event is available online at www.sebringraceway.com.
ASCARI TESTS AT SEBRING -- As always, Sebring International Raceway has been busy with off-season testing by many forms of race cars. One of the most recent tests was conducted by Team Ascari, which plans to enter the 12-hour event in March in the LMP 900 category. The team also plans to compete in the April 7 Grand Prix of the Americas in Miami.
Bringing more variety to the top class of prototypes, Team Ascari tested a pair of Ascari A410 chassis at Sebring. One car was powered by a Judd V-10 engine, while the other carried a BMW V-8 engine.
Driving the cars during two days of testing at Sebring were team owner Klaus Zwart, along with former Formula Atlantic regular T.J. Bell as normal Ascari driver Werner Lupberger. Bell was the only one of the three who had previous Sebring experience.
The British-based team will stay in America through the Miami event and will then return home to prepare for an assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
CHAMPION RACING CONFIRMS 2002 PLANS -- Though it has not yet announced its driving lineup, Florida-based Champion Racing confirmed this week that it will campaign a 2001-spec Audi R8 in the full American Le Mans Series championship in 2002.
The team's technical director, Brad Kettler, and his lead mechanics have been at Audi headquarters in Germany assembling the team's new car, which will arrive in the United States in early January. Champion team owner Dave Maraj recently visited Germany to finalize details for the 2002 season.
Champion, which had one of the most striking cars on the ALMS during the 2001 season, debuted a new, patriotic paint scheme for its car in the season finale at Road Atlanta. The team will continue with the "stars and stripes" livery in 2002.
PILGRIM CARRIES THE TORCH -- American Le Mans Series driver Andy Pilgrim was a recent participant in the Olympic Flame relay. A native of England who lives in Delray Beach, Fla., Pilgrim ran with the famous flame in Fort Lauderdale.
Pilgrim drives for Corvette Racing on the ALMS. He was a part of the winning team in Audi presents Petit Le Mans, the final race of the 2001 season.
"It was quite an experience," said Pilgrim, whose picture appeared the next day on the front page of the Palm Beach Post and the Broward County edition of The Miami Herald. "I was honored to have been chosen to participate."
Pilgrim was nominated because of his work with Broward County high school students in teaching driving safety. He ran with the torch for a quarter of a mile before handing it off to Michael E. Maroone, the President and COO of AutoNation, Inc., which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale.
Justin Bell, the 2001 rookie of the year on the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, and also a resident of the Fort Lauderdale area, carried the torch later in the day.
BORIS SAID HONORED BY BMW -- Californian Boris Said, who won the GT class in two American Le Mans Series races in 2001, was recently honored by BMW.
Said received the historic BMW Sports Trophy for the most successful BMW non-works racing driver in the 2001 season. He was presented the award at a BMW Motorsport party held in Austria.
"BMW's greatest motorsport successes are down to factory involvement," said BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger. "But most successes are down to independent competitors. These ambitious drivers who ride to victory in our cars without a factory contract are valuable ambassadors of the BMW brand on the world's racing circuits."
Said has driven for BMW Team PTG since 1996. The team has been a regular entrant in American Le Mans Series races since the formation of the series in 1999.
Said and Hans Stuck co-drove to the GT class victory in the ALMS event held in August at Portland, Ore. The two were joined by Bill Auberlen in winning the GT class in Audi presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October, the final race of the season.
QUICK NOTES -- The Audi R8 was recently voted "Sports Car of the Year" by the readers of German web magazines racing1.de and rallye1.de. The car helped Audi Sport North America win its second consecutive American Le Mans Series championship in 2001 .... Didier de Radigues, the 2001 American Le Mans Series LMP 675 champion, recently won the Dakar Corona Extra Jet Raid. De Radigues, who races jet skis as a hobby, won the 12-stage jet ski rally over nine days ....