Sebring and Miami get ready to receive the prototypes
Weeks from the start of the American Le Mans Series, the international sportscar championship, preparations are running in the cities of Sebring and Miami, in the state of Florida, where Milka Duno, from Venezuela, will be the only latinamerican in the top division of the LMP900 prototypes.
The first of the ten rounds of the ALMS competition will take place in the old military aerodrome of Sebring, and will count with more than 150 drivers from all five continents. It will be a very special ocassion indeed, since Sebring will be hosting the fiftieth edition of its traditional 12 hours race, the oldest among the sports vehicles in the USA. Miami, on the other hand, is organising again a competition in its streets, after a seven years hiatus, with a duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes, which will be called Grand Prix of the Americas.
Milka Duno will be driving a poweful Panoz LM07 with a Mugen engine of about 600 hp, teaming with the canadian John Graham. Even though the venezuelan has participated before in Sebring in the Panoz GT and Barber Dodge categories, it will be the first time she does so in the stellar 12 hours day, a tradition initiated in 1955 by the popular sports commentator Francisco José "Pancho Pepe" Cróquer.
The fiftieth edition of the 12 hours of Sebring will also count an impressive parade of the machines that made their mark and made history in the concrete track of the old airport. From the old Osca which carried Stirling Moss into victory in 1954 to the Maserati 450S that Juan Manuel Fangio drove in 1957 will be part of the colection, accompanied by quite a few of the figures that managed to win the race, like Milka's current coach, Vic Elford, winner in 1971 in a Porsche 917. The argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio II emulated his uncle and won in 1992 and 1993 in a Toyota GTP prototype. The nephew of the best driver in history will form part of the triad with the colombian Maurizio de Marváez with the only latins to win the 12 hours of Sebring.
Miami also settling details
American Le Mans Series stars like the danish Tom Kristensen, driving Audi, or the new adquisition of the Panoz team, the american Bryan Herta, are anxious to participate in the populated city in the south of Florida, being one of the promotors the legendary double Formula One world champion and also of the 500 Miles of Indianapolis, Emerson Fittipaldi.
One of the special atractions of the Miami race will be the presence of the astonishing colombian model Sofía Vergara, who will take part in a celebrity race, as well as being the Grand Marshal. The circuit, of little more than two kilometers, will go from Biscayne Boulevard and Bayfront Park, in the same style as the Montecarlo race, with the harbour and boats as a suitable background.
The opening of the ALMS competition in Sebring will happen on saturday 16th of March, while the second race in Miami will take place on Sunday 7th of April.
Contents ©® 2001/2002 Milka
Duno - All Photographs Courtesy of Octavio Estrada