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Sebring Hosts the FIA

13 October 1997

Sebring, FL-For the first time since 1971 an FIA Sports Car race will be held in the United States. The last time the FIA visited North America was in the late 80's when the "Group C" racecars visited Canada and Mexico. In those races a little-known driver named Michael Schumacher was a contract driver for Mercedes-Benz. My how time flys when you are having fun.

Some of the teams have arrived early to orient themselves to the Sebring track. On Saturday Porsche, McLaren and Lister rented the track to prepare themselves for next Saturday's four-hour FIA GT race. On Sunday Mercedes and Lotus tested. The drivers and manufacturer's championship fight in both the FIA GT1 and GT2 is up for grabs as well as the championship duel in the WSC, GT2 and GT3. It should be quite a week-end for the drivers and spectators.

The logistics of moving the FIA circus has been done in expected flair. The factory Mercedes, BMW and Porsche teams were flown by air charter. I guess the idea of arriving by boat was just not in the right image for some of the factory teams. The team that truly has a leg up on the rest of the field is the Lister Storm team which has already competed at Las Vegas and Pikes Peak. For the rest of the teams the ship will arrive in Jacksonville, FL Sunday night.

On Saturday night the travel plans call for the SportsCar and FIA teams to "caravan across America." The current plans call for promotional stops in Phoenix and Los Angeles on Tuesday. To achieve that timetable requires non-stop driving. Details of this "caravan" are to be released at Sebring.

So here we go! The FIA cars are really here. It should be a great show. Daily updates and interviews will be available from "The Autochannel." Stay Tuned!

David Treffer-The AutoChannel