All-female driving team enters British TVR in Sebring 12 Hours. BRASELTON, Ga. - The history of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has highlighted many interesting and different racing teams and the 52nd running of America's oldest sports car...
All-female driving team enters British TVR in Sebring 12 Hours.
BRASELTON, Ga. - The history of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has highlighted many interesting and different racing teams and the 52nd running of America's oldest sports car race will see the American debut of an All-Female driving team that has gained popularity in Europe in a very short amount of time.
The team known as "Les Femmes Pour Le Mans" has entered the season-opening event for the American Le Mans Series, featuring racer/broadcaster Amanda Stretton of England and American Liz Halliday. A third female driver will be named to complete the team.
Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport, which will field the car for Stretton and Halliday, has entered two British-built TVR Tuscan 400R machines that will compete in the GT class in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The other car will be shared by Bob Berridge and Lee Caroline, both of England, with a third driver to be named.
Stretton is familiar to fans of the American Le Mans Series for her work as a pit reporter for telecasts by the Speed Channel in 2002 and American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcasts in 2001. She was already a racing driver prior to her broadcasting career, which also includes TV presenting in England and Europe, but her driving career has stepped up in the past two years. Last August, she and Halliday became the first women to win a round of the British GT Championship, driving a Porsche to victory in the Spa 1000 in Belgium.
In November, they raced together again in the inaugural race of the Le Mans Endurance Series, driving a TVR to ninth in class in the Le Mans 1000K at the Bugatti circuit in France. Stretton will be racing in America for the first time when she competes at Sebring.
"I have done two Sebrings now (as a broadcaster), so I know how tough it is," said Stretton, who worked alone as a pit reporter for the ALMS Radio Web during the entire 2001 race. "I think the thing that kept me going while I was reporting there was a real enthusiasm for the race and a curiosity as to how it would turn out. With these long races, anything can happen.
"This year, as a competitor, I feel far more vulnerable to the events on track and how fragile our track position will be," she said. "But saying that, I am so excited at the prospect of racing at Sebring, and even when I have the opportunity to stand down from the car, knowing me I still think I'll be pacing the pits seeing what everyone else is up to.
"I certainly remember Sebring and the fans with very fond memories, and I hope they haven't forgotten me," she said. "Coming back to actually race there is a dream come true for me. Sebring, like the Le Mans 24 Hours, is an incredibly important race within motor sport. I have butterflies in my stomach every time I think about it."
Halliday, a California native who relocated to England in 2000, started racing in 1996 in SCCA and Vintage racing events. She maintains a duel career as she is also an accomplished equestrian. Her move to England was to work for world-class event rider William-Fox Pitt, but she has also raced in various series as she worked her way up to Le Mans-style sports car racing. Her first drive with Stretton was in the event at Spa, and she later drove for another team to seventh overall in the Bathurst 24 Hours in Australia.
"I was really impressed with how steady and consistent Liz was and thought she would be a great teammate," said Stretton.
Stretton doesn't consider herself a pioneer, but is proud of what she and Halliday have accomplished by earning the privilege to race at Sebring.
"It has been a long fight, and although no one has been dismissive to our face about girls doing this kind of racing, we have had to fight really hard to be taken seriously," she said. "The U.S., on the other hand, is far more accepting than parts of Europe, so I think there is no better place to start this campaign than in America."
The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, and will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the Speed Channel. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).