News-Sun photo by Jamie Williams Phil Currin at the finish line with his 1963 Corvette Stingray that he raced in the 1973 12 Hours of Sebring. He finished 11th overall and second in corvettes.
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published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Gallery of Legends features Currin, Paul cars
By JAMIE WILLIAMS
SEBRING - The Sebring International Speedway Hall of Fame and Gallery of Legends connects the past years of racing with the present. This year is no different as several cars that have raced the 12 Hours of Sebring were brought into the gallery on Wednesday.
Significant of these cars is a red No. 99 1963 Corvette Stingray driven by Phil Currin and a light blue and yellow No. 73 JLP-2 Porsche 935 driven by John Paul Jr.
Last year, Currin drove his Stingray Corvette on the parade lap before the race. He was asked to bring it back this year because it is the 40th anniversary of when he first drove the car in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
In that race he finished 11th overall out of 72 cars and second out of 18 corvettes, even though he was driving a car that was 10 years old.
The year prior, he won the 1972 IMSA GTO Championship and earned the nickname as the "Giant Killer."
Currin restored his vehicle in 1993 and continued to race it sparingly in vintage races until he retired the car in 2003. One of those races included an overall win in the one-hour endurance race at the SVRA (Sportscar Vintage Racing Association) vintage event at Sebring.
Currin stated that the memories of the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1973 came back to him while he was doing the three parade laps a couple of weeks ago.
"It just kind of hit me while doing the parade laps," Currin said with a smile and a gleam in his eye. "It was 40 years ago when I finished second out of 18 corvettes and my car was 10 years old."
Though Currin continues to compete in vintage races, the Stingray is used primarily for displays and exhibition laps.
The number 73 JLP-2 Porsche 935 has a different story.
After nearly 20 years as a professional driver, John Paul Jr. was forced to retire due to a neuro-degenerative disease called Huntington's disease in 2001.
In 1982 he became the youngest IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) champion at the age of 22. He won the 12 hours of Daytona twice and 12 Hours of Sebring once as just a small part of his racing accomplishments.
Friends of Paul formed a group called JLP-HD, with the HD standing for Huntington's disease. Together they have restored a 935 Porsche, which they have dubbed the JLP-HD1. They plan to tour the vintage and historic circuit for at least one year to bring attention to this disease.
Because of his medical condition, John Paul Jr. was not able to make the trip to this year's 12 Hours of Sebring.
In his stead, close friend Laura South will be present as both the JLP-2 and JLP-HD1 Porsche 935's are showcased at the Hall of Fame and Gallery of Legends.
South is doing fundraising for the Huntington's disease foundation through various events.
The goal is still to win the race, except this time it is a race to find a cure to a disease that is similar to Alzhemimer's and Parkinson's disease.
"We'll have some autographed posters that John has signed," South said, "for those that want to make a donation. They will be limited because of his condition and he can only sign a few at a time."
South iterated that the main goal is to generate knowledge of the disease and promote the foundation.
Paul's sister died from the same disease last year.
For those that want more information on John Paul Jr. or Huntington's disease, visit South at the Sebring International Speedway Hall of Fame or go to www.johnpauljrhd.com.
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