True or not, the same rumors of a merger between the American Le Mans Series presented by Patron and the NASCAR-owned Grand America Road Racing Rolex Series are again the talk of the paddock after John Dagys, reporter for SPEED.com stated in his exclusive article that an apparent “agreement” between the two American-based sportscar series has been made.
While no official date of the apparent announcement has been made at this time, Dagys believes it will be this coming week and the merger will take place in time for the 2014 season. Dagys is currently at the ALMS race in Baltimore.
Motorsport.com's reporter in Baltimore checked with an ALMS official staff member: "without looking me in the eye, he said he couldn't confirm anything."
The ALMS is manufacturer –driven and based on the rules set forth by the governing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans event in France. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) works with the constructors and teams on new rules and regulations. Last year, the ACO and The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) joined forces for the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Unfortunately that partnership affected the already low entries in the Georgia-based series.
Add to the fact that the Daytona-based Rolex series has recently had some issues, and entries of the top class – the prototypes – have seen a decrease. Both sportscar series have a lot of the out-of-the-showroom Grand Touring (GT) cars; of course there are some differences based on the current regulations of the two series.
GT racing is very popular world-wide, and while they are not the overall fastest, they usually have the most entries. In many countries, the GT series have stand-alone events.
Many current sportscar racers contest both series, and at time so do some of the teams. Even when the two series have conflicts in the schedule, there have been times when the drivers would fly from one venue to another on the same weekend.
The ALMS is currently racing on the streets of Baltimore this weekend. Next weekend the Rolex series teams will be at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Both are coming up to the end of their seasons; thus if a merger does happen, one will expect the news shortly.
The two series also hold prestigious world-class events: Grand-Am has the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. ALMS holds the keys to the Twelve Hours of Sebring, and their Petit Le Mans event. This year, the ALMS season opener at Sebring was the first round for the WEC, and entries were of course very high. However, it appears that neither of the two ALMS crown jewels will be on the WEC 2013 calendar. Grand-Am has no worries as their 24 Hour race in Daytona is secure in its high entry count.
With the lack of the top prototypes in the ALMS, perhaps the merger this time will happen. Only time will tell.