The American Le Mans Series president and CEO Scott Atherton announced today at Road America that the series schedule would expand from 9 races to 10 in 2011. "This is the earliest we have ever released the schedule," he said. "We decided for our 'stake holders' the sooner, the better."
The Utah round at Miller Motorsports Park will be dropped, while two new, to-be-confirmed events added to the schedule will be announced in the near future. The series CEO declined to state what those new venues would be.
Atherton said that dropping the Utah race was "a difficult decision...a mutual decision handled professionally by both sides." Atherton cited low spectator counts as the primary reason and expressed disappointment that the series would not run on the purpose-built track that was well-suited to the ALMS cars. Atherton explained that the event, which began in 2006, is on a one-year hiatus.
The ALMS calendar peaked with 12 events in 2007, when the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix first appeared on the schedule. The series lost one event per year from 2008-2010, before the announcement today that there would be 10 events in 2011.
While most of the events will run the usual two hour and 45 minutes, Long Beach will still be less while Laguna Seca will return to a Fall date and will be back to a six hour race. Sebring is, of course, staying at 12 hours and Petit Le Mans will continue at 10 hours or 1,000 miles. However, Atherton stated that there is a slight chance that Road America and Mosport will also be extended endurance races.
The series takes a 10-week hiatus in the spring to accommodate teams racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The reason is due to the fact that there will be a Test Day set in May prior to the actual 24 hour race in France. Atherton alluded that there have been suggestions to add an event during that time for teams not competing in the French endurance classic.
Atherton also mentioned that this year's Petit Le Mans grid would feature over 50 cars, including two each from both Audi and Peugeot.