Seven champion race-car drivers and one rock star racer will compete in a Porsche 935 JLP HD1 on Sunday to help raise funds and awareness for Huntington's Disease.
The 4-hour endurance event at the famed 3.7-mile Sebring International Speedway is sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing Ltd.
The race has internationally-acclaimed drivers Rob Dyson, John Fergus, Hurley Haywood, Roger Mandeville, Jim Pace, Brian Redman and Dorsey Schroeder.
They will be joined by Brian Johnson, lead singer for the rock band AC/DC who enjoys racing vintage cars in Europe and the U.S.
Fans and supporters around the world are encouraged to visit http://ucla.in/171Fd00 (go to "Please Direct My Fund to..." and scroll down to "John Paul Jr.") where donations will be accepted in the name of the event and former racing champion John Paul Jr., who suffers from the disease.
John Paul Jr. is the youngest champion in IMSA GT Series history, and has won races at the 24 Hours of Daytona, in CART and the IRL.
In 1982, at age 22, he became the youngest winner of the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring. Other former race drivers are known to suffer from Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's - all related to Huntington's. Paul Jr. is expected to join the Saturday evening reception through a Skype hook-up, along with other West Coast-based race-car drivers lending their support.
"This is such a debilitating disease, which has taken its toll on so many of our friends and others throughout the world," said Redman, a three-time U.S. F5000 champion (1974-76), and the 1981 IMSA Camel GT champion, who is coordinating the fund-raising effort. "This is a great opportunity for many of us in the racing community to give back and help support a great cause."
The funds raised will benefit HD research by the Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Huntington's is an inherited and fatal degenerative disease that progressively robs patients of the ability to think, judge appropriately, control their emotions and perform coordinated tasks.
The proceeds will also benefit the Huntington Disease Society of America's mission to improve the lives of people affected by HD and their families by supporting the UCLA Center of Excellence.
According to UCLA, it is an exciting time in HD research, and UCLA Neurology is confident that many groundbreaking discoveries are within reach. The understanding of the brain processes that are affected by the mutant huntingtin protein has increased dramatically over the past decade, and UCLA specialists are now poised to begin treatments that may have a dramatic impact on delaying the onset and slowing the progression of this disease.
"We thank Historic Sportscar Racing, Brian Redman, and all of the participants in this event to raise awareness and support for HD research. We extend our deepest appreciation to John Paul Jr., for his tireless drive and passion to improve the lives of HD patients and move our research forward," said Susan Perlman, M.D., Director, UCLA Huntington's Disease Center and Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Neurology.
Each driver will race for 30 minutes behind the wheel of the later-model Porsche 935 fitted with JLP replica bodywork and prepared gratis for this event by David Hinton's Heritage Motorsports.
The JLP HD1 encompasses all the great 935s that John Paul Jr. raced in the '80s and beyond. The eight-driver team will compete against sports racers from the '50s, '60s and '70s, as well as GTP/Group C cars of the '80s and later, including Courage, Pescarolo and the Audi R8.
"I'm proud and honored to compete in this 4-hour enduro on behalf of the UCLA Huntington's Disease Center," said Haywood, a two-time Sebring 12-Hour and five-time Daytona 24-hour champion. "John Paul Jr. was a great competitor whom I had the privilege of racing against in the early IMSA days, and giving back to help in the research to eliminate this disease is an important goal."
There are several support races today beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday's 4-hour enduro runs from 12:45 p.m. to 4:45.