1997 FIA GT Invitational – Zhuhai, China

In October, 1997 I received a call from my friend John Graham asking

if I was available to join him at an FIA GT Invitational Race in Zhuhai, China in November. I jumped in with both feet and found myself there in Pit Lane a couple of weeks later. The car he had rented a ride in was a Ferrari 348LM and it turned out to be a disaster – bad car, poorly prepared, disorganised team – and John was ready to head back home. I took back half the money paid to the team and went up to Race Control, finding that the Race Director for the event was the ex-Formula 1 Race Director I had worked with before at the Montreal F1 race – Roland Bruynseraede. I told Roland our story and he pointed me to Cor Euser, with the Factory Marcos Team suggesting that they might have a spare seat. I struck a terrific deal with Cor, contingent on John having crash insurance on the car when he was driving, and I used my CTC company phone to contact Peter Sereda in Canada to arrange for that to happen. Next thing we know, we are in the 6 Hour FIA GT Invitational Race!! After we arranged the ride and everyone was working in Pit Lane to get it ready for the first practice, I noticed that the VIP Suite right over top of our garage was identified as being ‘Minolta’ – the camera folks. Just for fun, I went up to talk to them about ‘sponsoring’ the car and, after checking with their top management, they did!! We ended up with some extremely nice Minolta cameras to take back home with us!! Still have one of them!!

That ride evolved into John buying a brand new Porsche GT2 car two weeks later and me setting up a brand new team based in West Palm Beach, Florida to run it. From taking delivery of it at Palm Beach International Raceway the week before the 1998 Rolex 24 Hour Race at Daytona to finishing 5th Overall in our first race with it at that race………………well, that’s a story for another day!! It also made for a very exciting year for Tim Dale who worked full-time on the car at West Palm Beach and got pretty darn good at it!



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