Fresh from Florida Joins Automatic Racing for 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Automatic Racing announced Thursday from the Performance Racing Industry show in Orlando that Fresh from Florida will join the team as primary sponsor during the 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series to help raise awareness of Florida's vast agriculture industry.

Fresh from Florida is a campaign of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that serves to increase public awareness of the importance of Florida's agriculture industry, which has an estimated overall economic impact of more than $87 billion annually.

"Motorsports is extremely popular in North America, and Grand-Am racing is among the fastest growing segments of this sport," said Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. "Our sponsorship will help promote the Fresh from Florida brand to sports enthusiasts around the world. In addition, the Fresh from Florida car and drivers will make at least six promotional appearances around Florida during the 2007 racing season promoting fresh, Florida-grown products and their importance for a healthy lifestyle."

The partnership is a natural fit for Automatic Racing, which is based in Orlando at the heart of Florida's agriculture industry. The team will be returning for their sixth season in the KONI Challenge Series, beginning with two rounds in Florida. Once again, Automatic Racing will be campaigning four BMW M3s in Grand Sport, the premier class in KONI Challenge.

"Automatic Racing is very pleased to include Fresh from Florida on our team. Being based in the middle of the state, our partnership with Fresh from Florida was very appropriate," said team owner Jep Thornton. "Also, the first two races this year are in the state, at Daytona and Homestead. David Russell has worked hard over the off season to make this deal happen and we're looking forward to eating lots of Florida fruits and vegetables during the season!"

The No. 99 Fresh from Florida Automatic Racing BMW M3 will feature a Fresh from Florida motif, and the dark green car will be bedecked with pictures of fruit and vegetables grown throughout the state.

David Russell, who has been with Automatic Racing since the team's inception in 2002, will be sharing the driver's seat with up-and-coming racer Tom Long, who is making his debut with Automatic Racing this season.

Automatic Racing will kick off the 2007 KONI Challenge season at Daytona International Raceway with a three-hour race on January 26. From there, the team will travel to Homestead-Miami Speedway for round two, a 400-kilometer race on April 15.

Attendees of the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Orlando this past weekend were able to view the No. 99 Fresh from Florida BMW M3 on display in the Grand American booth.