** DAYS COUNTING DOWN -- American Le Mans Series cars will be on the track at Road Atlanta in just over a week as practice begins on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for the Oct. 6 running of Audi presents Petit Le Mans. The 1,000-mile, 10-hour race will be...
** DAYS COUNTING DOWN -- American Le Mans Series cars will be on the track at Road Atlanta in just over a week as practice begins on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for the Oct. 6 running of Audi presents Petit Le Mans.
The 1,000-mile, 10-hour race will be the final event of the 2001 ALMS season. Practice sessions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, with qualifying on Friday, Oct. 5. The race starts at noon on Saturday.
The Speedvision television network will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race beginning at 11:30 a.m. on race day. Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.
** THE CALLAWAY IS BACK! -- The Callaway C12-R race car, which proved to be popular in its limited American Le Mans Series appearances this year, will return to the series to compete in Audi presents Petit Le Mans.
The car, which was the GT class fastest qualifier for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, has not raced since mechanical problems eliminated it from the French racing classic in June. It raced at Texas and Sebring, the first two events of the ALMS season in March, before heading to Europe.
Bob Mazzuoccola, owner of Aspen Knolls Racing, will co-drive the car with Shane Lewis and Cort Wagner. Lewis has competed with Aspen Knolls for the past several years, while Wagner raced for the team in most of the 2000 season. Michael Colucci Racing is preparing the car for the event.
"I'm excited about being back with Aspen Knolls Racing and MCR," said Lewis, from Jupiter, Fla. "I feel like I am back with family for one of the biggest events of the year. Bob and I have worked together for so long that it has been strange not being at the track with him."
Lewis has driven for American Viperacing in the five ALMS events that have been held since the series resumed after the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "American Viperacing gave me a great opportunity coming out of the leg surgery while the Callaway was on hiatus," said Lewis. "I certainly appreciate the opportunity to help AVR develop their program."
Wagner, the ALMS GT champion with five wins in 1999, was also the driver who qualified the Callaway fastest this year at Le Mans. He and Lewis were co-drivers for Aspen Knolls Racing for most of the 2000 season, when the team fielded a GT Porsche. He started this year with a team that folded early in the season, then joined the Callaway effort for Le Mans when Lewis was unable to drive due to his leg surgery.
"With the changes MCR has been making to this car, we should have a good chance at the Petit Le Mans," said Lewis. "Road Atlanta should play well into this car's horsepower and aerodynamic advantages. There is some steep competition with the BMWs and Porsches in the GT class, but if we can set a good strategy and follow it, we will surprise some people."
The Shane Lewis Fan Club, famous for its Turn 10 support of Lewis at Sebring, will bring a group to Road Atlanta and will seek an appropriate place for its visible "Go Shane Go!!!" sign.
** MAASSEN TO RACE AT INDIANAPOLIS -- Sascha Maassen, one of the drivers in contention for the American Le Mans Series GT class championship, will compete in the Porsche-Pirelli Supercup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of this weekend's Formula One event.
Maassen, who drives the Alex Job Racing-McKenna Porsche on the ALMS, will be driving a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the two final rounds of the world's fastest international single marque series. Maassen is a frequent competitor in the Supercup series when his schedule permits.
Also in the field will be two American drivers familiar to followers of the ALMS: David Donohue of Malvern, Penn., and Gunnar Jeannette of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Donohue, who was a regular on the ALMS in 1999 and 2000, competed in two events earlier this year for American Viperacing. Jeannette, 19, has competed in the past two runnings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, becoming the youngest finisher of the event in its history last year at 17. He made his ALMS debut last year and is entered in Audi presents Petit Le Mans, which would be his first ALMS race of 2001.
** FROM THE FANS AWARD VOTING UNDERWAY -- One of the most significant awards that will be presented at the ALMS awards ceremony in Atlanta on Oct. 7 is the third annual "From the Fans" award. Fans of the American Le Mans Series have the opportunity to vote online at www.americanlemans.com.
The voting is for the person who has done the most for sports car racing during the 2001 season. The name of the recipient will remain a closely-guarded secret until being revealed during the awards ceremony.
The recipient of the first award in 1999 was ALMS founder Don Panoz, while the 2000 recipient was Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport.
** ATLANTA TO BE SITE FOR ALMS PROMOTIONS -- Race fans in the Atlanta area will have several opportunities to see American Le Mans Series cars and meet ALMS drivers in the week prior to the Oct. 6 running of Audi presents Petit Le Mans.
Andretti Speed Lab, an indoor karting facility in Roswell, Ga., will be the scene for some go-kart races between ALMS drivers and members of the media on Monday night, Oct. 1. Action will begin at 6 p.m. and continue until 8:30 p.m. Following the media races, race fans will also have the opportunity to race against the ALMS competitiors.
Centennial Park in Downtown Atlanta will host an autograph session for ALMS drivers on Tuesday, Oct. 2, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Several ALMS cars will drive to the park through the streets of Atlanta, an event expected to attract a great deal of attention due to its unusual nature.
** QUICK NOTES -- The Speedvision television network will broadcast the inaugural Porsche Rennsport Reunion three more times: Friday, 10/5, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10/6 at 12 midnight; and Friday, 10/12, at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern) .... Panoz Racing Schools, in conjunction with the Lanier Technical College Motor Sports Vehicle Technology program, will hold a motor sports seminar forum on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, at the college's auditorium near Road Atlanta. Information is available at (770) 967-1220 .... Dana Moore, who competed on the former Women's Global GT Series in 1999 and 2000, won the first Legends Car race of her career this past weekend at Barona (Calif.) Speedway in only her second race on a dirt track ....