Spirit of Daytona Racing carrying special sponsor in Long Beach

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What can the Spirit of Daytona team do in California?

After opening the 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season with two big races at home in Florida, the Visit Florida Racing squad will now bring some Florida sunshine to the West Coast this weekend as the TUDOR Championship travels to Long Beach, California for the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase.

The team will be carrying some added branding on the livery of the No. 90 Corvette DP, as the team looks to bring awareness to the Kidz1stFund (www.kidz1stfund.com).

Established by Florida State University Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife Candi, Kidz1stFund raises awareness and donations for Fanconi Anemia (FA) research at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital - the largest FA treatment center in the country.

FA is a rare and life-threatening disease that leads to a decline in blood counts, eventually requiring a bone marrow transplant. Those with FA have a wide variety of health issues, and have a significantly higher chance of developing cancer at a much earlier age than the general population. New treatments are being developed, and breakthroughs are on the horizon, but defeating this illness will require the help of generous souls from every walk of life.

“This is a special deal for us and it was something that developed from our partnership with Visit Florida, so working with the Kidz1stFund is something we are proud to be doing,” said team owner Troy Flis. “Going to a high-profile event like Long Beach is a great place to launch something like this and we’d like to bring as much attention as we can to them and hopefully make a difference with what they are doing.”

#90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP: Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante, Mike Rockenfeller
#90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP: Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante, Mike Rockenfeller

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Visit Florida Racing pilots Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante both have experience on the 1.986-mile temporary street circuit. The two international drivers bring knowledge and success to the famous circuit, with Westbrook scoring a fourth-place finish in his first ALMS race at Long Beach in 2010. Valiante’s experience at the track dates back to his CART Toyota Atlantic days having won at Long Beach in 2002 after finishing fourth the previous year. He also placed fifth when GRAND-AM visited Long Beach in 2006.

The Long Beach event is one of the shortest races on the schedule and it follows the two longest races of the 2014 season. The race requires alternate strategies as teams determine the best way to utilize the 100-minute time limit and Spirit of Daytona, who won three sprint race events in 2012, is eager to return to competition.

“This is going to be a pretty exciting deal for us to be on a street circuit again-the stakes are just a little bit higher whenever the guys head out on a track that is so unforgiving,” said Flis. “Every race this year, we’ve had to come into it with a bit of a blank sheet as far as what to expect and this is another event for us to adapt to with the bumpy surface and the short race distance. We’ve had really good cars so far this season and now we just want to convert that into a real result.”

A condensed weekend schedule will see a two-hour practice held early Friday morning ahead of an evening practice and a 15-minute qualifying session. The green flag will drop on the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase Saturday, April 12th at 6:10 PM (ET).

The 100-minute race will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 starting at 6:00 PM (ET). MRN Radio will also carry live coverage of the event.

Spirit of Daytona Racing

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About this article
Series TUSC
Article type Previews
Tags imsa, kidz1stfund, long beach, michael valiante, richard westbrook, toyota, tudor

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