The American Le Mans Series is justifiably proud of the scope of its affiliations. Preferring to market itself as a premium brand, according to ALMS president and CEO Scott Atherton, the series looks for partnerships with upscale products and companies.

The latest company to come onboard the ALMS bandwagon is the purveyor of high quality hand tools Klein Tools, Inc., the Skokie, IL-based firm best known for its sponsorship of Indy Racing League IndyCar Series 2005 runner- up (and 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year) Dan Wheldon, who drives Andretti Green Racing's #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda, one of four entries from the AGR stable.

"We are extremely proud to become part of the American Le Mans Series," declared Klein Tools president and CEO Rick Klein, who is part of the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the high-end hand tool business. "We recognize the American Le Mans Series stands for quality, performance and excellence [of product] and we wanted to bring in programs that would benefit everyone involved."

John McDevitt, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Klein Tools explained that the company is "joining [this series] to recognize and honor professional mechanics through a couple of competitions." Klein Tools will sponsor a self-named Pit Crew Challenge with a total prize fund of $100,000. It will include four competitions through the season, he said.

The first three Pit Crew Challenge events will take place at Sebring, Mid- Ohio and Infineon Sears Point as qualifying events, each consisting of tire change, driver change and refueling competitions.

The fastest crew gets $25,000 for their efforts at each qualifying race and the top three crews receive an invitation to the finale, taking place at the American Le Mans Series' tenth and last race of the 2005 season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The winner of that shootout will also receive $25,000.

The second promotion from Klein Tools for the 2005 season recognizes the ALMS Mechanic of the Year through a $20,000 fund that will reward the top vote-getter in each of the ALMS four classes: LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2. The prizes will be voted by members of the ALMS family including officials and pit crew members themselves.

To kick off the competition, ALMS presented a Klein Tools mechanics' toolset and tabletop box to Brian Alder, crew chief at Intersport Racing. As part of their agreement, Klein Tools will sell products at ALMS events in addition to their two major outlets of Home Depot and Lowe's home improvement warehouses in addition to fine electrical and construction distributors and internet.

Klein Tools will also showcase its products by bringing its precision air teams to at least four ALMS races at Sebring, Elkhart Lake's Road America, Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta. "Bringing Klein Tools to our American Le Mans Series is a bright spot of my five-year tenure," Atherton stated. "They impact every aspect of our series, benefiting our series and, more importantly our teams."