St. James, Schroeder and Volk of TRV Motorsport Head to Sebring
12 March 1998
The 46th annual event, which is being presented by Chrysler, is billed as the oldest sports car endurance race in the United States. It is sanctioned by SportsCar.
The race will mark the second time that this group of drivers has worked together as a team. Along with a fourth driver, Pete Halsmer, they ran ninth overall and sixth in the Can-Am class all night during the 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona Int'l Speedway Jan. 31-Feb. 1 only to drop out with mechanical difficulties just three and a half hours before the checkered. They eventually finished 25th overall and seventh in class.
Since that race was for 24 hours and this one is "only" for 12, hopes are high for a strong finish for the team, which carries Salisbury, Md.-based Purity Farms as an associate sponsor. Over 60 entries are expected.
St. James is a past class winner of this race. Teamed with Robby Gordon and Calvin Fish she won the GTO division of this race in 1990, finishing sixth overall. She hopes to start her seventh Indy 500 on May 24, and TRV Motorsport is very honored to be working with her at Sebring.
As a team TRV Motorsport has never before competed in this particular event, but its owner, Volk, drove in this race in 1996 with another team. He was in a Spice chassis for that race and he did a double stint that was nothing if not memorable.
"We were on slicks and as soon as I got in the car it started to rain," he recalled. "Then the radio failed. I did about an hour and a quarter in the rain and then came in, but then the next driver in the car was involved in a crash and our race was over."
All sorts of things can happen in any race, and endurance racing is especially brutal.
"Endurance racing is harder than people realize; running that fast for that long really takes its toll on all a car's mechanical parts," noted Schroeder. "We almost finished on the podium at Daytona, and no one on the TRV team likes that word 'almost.' We are even more determined to try to finish this one and get the results that just slipped out of our grasp a month ago in Florida, a little further north in Daytona Beach."
This will be Schroeder's first appearance in the 12 Hours of Sebring, but the course was the site of one of his favorite racing experiences. He got the opportunity to drive one of Payton-Coyne's CART champ (Indy) cars at Sebring during a Firestone tire test in 1996. He also competed in Formula Ford and Formula 2000 cars at Sebring, but never on the 3.6-mile, 17-turn full endurance course. (Schroeder was the 1995 U.S. Formula 2000 national champion. He drove in the SCCA KOOL/Toyota Atlantic series in 1996 and 1997, and he is seeking sponsorship for a full Indy car season in 1999 and beyond.)
Sebring is historically known for being a rather rough track, but portions of the course have been repaved recently. "We're all hoping it won't be quite as rough as it's been in the past," said Volk.
"It's a hard race to run because of the track conditions," he added. "The speeds will be about 10 percent slower than what we did at Daytona. Instead of going 190 mph on the straightaways, we'll be doing around 175. The stints will be similar to Daytona though; they'll be about 40-minute stints under green-flag conditions. After everyone gets one stint in we'll see about doing double stints."
The start of the race is scheduled to be covered live on ESPN in an hour and a half-long program beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 21. Another hour of live coverage is planned for ESPN2 beginning at 1:30 that day, and an update will be given on the program RPM2Night on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. The finish is also scheduled to be covered live on ESPN2 in a half-hour program at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 22.
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