Fifty Plus Racing Riley BMW Prepared by
Doran Racing Hopes for Great Showing at Sebring
LEBANON, Ohio, March 13 — After a stellar eighth-place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, Fifty Plus Racing is hoping for another top-10 run with its Riley BMW Prototype prepared by Doran Racing in the 63rd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida Saturday, March 21 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
It is the second race of the year in both the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Fifty Plus Racing is focusing on the latter, a four-race series that also includes the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on June 28 and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 3.
Jim Pace of Ridgeland, Miss., Byron DeFoor of Ooltewah, Tenn., and two Floridians — David Hinton of Clearwater and Dorsey Schroeder of Little Torch Key — are set to handle the controls of the #50, which strives to raise both awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer's disease via its Fifty Plus Racing Foundation and its Web site at FiftyPlusRacing.com. Donations for Alzheimer's research can be easily made to the foundation by PayPal through that Web site.
Some of the team's other sponsor partners include Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion, Contemporary, Grace Healthcare, Milkadamia and Red Rock.
The team's driver roster reflects not only success in pro races but also a great deal of experience in two other forms of the sport: vintage racing and driver instruction.
Pace won this race overall in 1996 with Wayne Taylor and Eric van de Poele in Doyle Racing's Riley & Scott Mk III Oldsmobile, right after Taylor, Pace and Scott Sharp won the Rolex 24 that year in the same car. Incidentally, Pace's brother Will won in GT2 in 1996 too, marking the first time two brothers won at Sebring in different cars.
Pace was also third overall twice (1995 and 1997) at Sebring. He won his class (GTPL) in 1991 and was second in class (GTU) in 1994, also setting the class's fastest race lap in the latter race. He finished fourth in the GTU class in his first Sebring Twelve Hour (1990). This year marks his 12th appearance in this classic race.
Audi swept the top four positions overall at Sebring in 2001, and Schroeder was on the podium in third place overall that year in one of them, along with co-drivers Andy Wallace and Ralf Kelleners. He also has a class victory, as he and Wally Dallenbach Jr. drove a Roush Racing Lincoln Mercury Cougar XR-7 to the GTO win in 1989, finishing eighth overall. Other class podiums by Schroeder came in 1990 (second) and 1993 (third). He's also been in many other races at Sebring, and along with co-driver Steve "Younga" DeBrecht he won a Firestone Firehawk 3.5-hour S/T race here in 1987 prior to all his Trans-Am success.
Both Pace and Schroeder also have many years of experience as driver instructors in schools that use Sebring, which is active over 300 days a year with private testing, clubs, corporate events, driving schools and the like.
"I taught with the Skip Barber Racing School at Sebring for more than 20 years, and I've always considered it a 'home' track," said Pace.
"I taught at Skip Barber at Sebring for a long time, and that's where I met and taught Jim Pace, Juan Pablo Montoya, Bryan Herta and many others," noted Schroeder, who added that he thinks he may have driven on every configuration of the track.
Sebring has had eight different configurations during the years. It's currently a 3.74-mile, 17-turn road course, of which 2.89 miles are asphalt and 0.85 miles are concrete. Portions of the facility were used as a World War II B-17 training base. That includes the frontstretch, which consists of the original concrete poured for the military base in 1941.
Motorsports history is right up the alley of Hinton, who owns the vintage racing organization Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR). That group will be in action leading up to the Twelve-Hour race beginning on Wednesday, March 18, and it will stage races on Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20 at Sebring. Its members are also scheduled to participate in parade laps prior to the start of the Twelve-Hour race on Saturday morning.
"Sebring is my home track, and I spend probably 12 weekends a year here for different events," Hinton said. "It's a very magical place steeped in history, and for me personally it was the first IMSA race I ever attended back in 1986. I've also had the pleasure of driving some fantastic cars around Sebring over the years, including the McLaren Can-Am cars from the sixties and a Lola T70 Mk3B coupe that Mike Hailwood and Frank Gardner raced here in 1969 in the Twelve Hours.
"This will be my second time driving in the Twelve Hours of Sebring," he added. "I was driving last year at the 10-hour mark when we lost the belt on the dry sump pump, which forced us to retire. What a thrill it was to be driving in my first Twelve Hours of Sebring though! I will never forget driving around for the first time in what seemed like a tunnel of motorhomes around the track, with the occasional thick smoke pouring over the track from the spectators' campfires."
Like Hinton, DeFoor, who owns the #50, is very active in vintage racing and he is also making his second appearance in the Twelve-Hour race. He appreciates the history of the event too, as well as the test it gives both driver and machine.
Pace and Schroeder summarized the team's outlook going into the race very well.
"The Sebring Twelve-Hour is one of my favorite races because it really emphasizes endurance," Pace said. "Known around the world as a circuit that is very demanding on both the car and the driver, Sebring requires a team effort all day and into the night. It is very different than the Daytona 24 due to the bumpiness of the surface and the increased intensity of traffic. Sebring requires constant awareness of traffic, whether faster or slower, and to deal with it efficiently."
"I liken Sebring to being in a championship prize fight," added Schroeder. "You know going in that you're going to come out beaten and battered. Win or lose, Sebring is the toughest endurance sports car race in the world. You've got to adopt the attitude of being down right mean and nasty, otherwise it will beat you!"
As a group, Fifty Plus Racing's drivers are older than many of the other teams' drivers. Schroeder is 62, DeFoor is 59, Pace is 54 and Hinton is 46. However, they're with the best team possible to help them achieve their goal of doing well in this race. Doran Racing also prepped the car driven by the oldest overall winner of the Twelve Hours of Sebring ever — Gianpiero Moretti, who was 58 years and 4 months old when he took the checkered flag first here in 1998.
Fox Sports 1 will cover this year's event live beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, March 21 before the coverage switches to Fox Sports 2, IMSA.com and back to Fox Sports 2 for the finish. Fox Sports 1 will then air a highlights show from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 22.
Live timing and scoring will be available on IMSA.com.
For more information on Doran Racing, a legendary endurance sports car team that has an overall victory at Sebring, other prestigious races and several championships to its credit, see DoranRacing.com and its Facebook page.
For more information about the series, see imsa.com.
For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com.
The team also has a Facebook page.