American racers at Le Mans 24 preview

Fourteen American Racers Set to Battle for Le Mans Glory Braselton, GA - Fourteen American racing drivers will be among the 144 drivers from around the world who will compete in this weekend's 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's...

Fourteen American Racers Set to Battle for Le Mans Glory

Braselton, GA - Fourteen American racing drivers will be among the 144 drivers from around the world who will compete in this weekend's 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most famous endurance race.

Only 12 American drivers have been able to score an overall victory at Le Mans in the past 71 runnings, including some of the most famous names in American racing history. Interest in Le Mans among Americans had waned over the years until the birth and growth of the American Le Mans Series, which started in 1999 as a series of sports car races in North America using the same rules and many of the same drivers and cars that compete at Le Mans.

Among the 48 cars that will start the race, eleven regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events, and 20 were in the field for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring that started the 2004 ALMS season in March.

Though American drivers have scored numerous Le Mans class wins in recent years, the last time an American driver won the event overall was Davy Jones in 1996. Legendary road racing stars Phil Hill, Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood were each three-time overall winners at Le Mans during their careers, with Hill's win in 1958 the first for a United States native.

Other American overall winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans have been Price Cobb (1990), Masten Gregory (1965), Dan Gurney (1967), A.J. Foyt (1967), Carroll Shelby (1959) and Bill and Don Whittington (1979). In addition, Luigi Chinetti scored his third Le Mans overall win in 1949 after becoming an American citizen.

Though no American drivers were winners at Le Mans in 2003, U.S.-based racing teams scored two class wins. ADT Champion Racing, based in Pompano Beach, Fla., won the LMP 900 class and finished third overall behind the winning Bentley factory entries. The GT class-winning team was a combined effort of Alex Job Racing of Tavares, Fla., and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing of Las Vegas, Nev.

Practice and qualifying will be held on Wednesday and Thursday evening, with the 8.46-mile Circuit de La Sarthe open until midnight both nights. The twice-around-the-clock event begins at 4 p.m. (France time) on Saturday, June 12. In North America, race fans will be able to watch 20.5 hours of live coverage of the event on the SPEED Channel, beginning at 9:30 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday and concluding at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Live coverage of the entire race can be heard online at www.radiolemans.com.

The American Le Mans Series resumes action with American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, an event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, June 25-27.

The 2004 American participants in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, by state, showing hometown, team, type car (class):

CALIFORNIA (2): Patrick Long, Oak Park, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT); Rick Sutherland, Los Gatos; Intersport Racing, Lola B2K/40-Judd (LMP2).

FLORIDA (2): Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, Epsilon Sport, Courage JPX (LMP2); Jim Matthews, Boca Raton; PK Sport, Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT).

GEORGIA (1): Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch; Corvette Racing, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R (GTS).

ILLINOIS (1): Philip Collin, Deerfield; Seikel Motorsport; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT).

KENTUCKY (1); Danny Sullivan, Louisville; Barron Connor Racing, Ferrari 575 Maranello (GTS).

NEW HAMPSHIRE (1): William Binnie, Portsmouth; Intersport Racing, Lola B2K/40-Judd (LMP2).

NEW YORK (3): Duncan Dayton, North Salem, Intersport Racing, Lola B160-Judd (LMP1); Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley; Racing for Holland, Dome-Judd (LMP1); Leo Hindery, New York City; Orbit Racing/BAM!, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT).

OHIO (3): Larry Connor, Centerville; Intersport Racing, Lola B160-Judd (LMP1); Clint Field, Dublin; Intersport Racing, Lola B2K/40-Judd (LMP2); Jon Field, Dublin; Intersport Racing, Lola B160-Judd (LMP1).

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About this article
Series ALMS , Le Mans
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Johnny O'Connell , Phil Hill , Jon Field , Larry Connor , Dan Gurney , Leo Hindery , Danny Sullivan , Hurley Haywood , Gunnar Jeannette , Al Holbert , Patrick Long , Jim Matthews , Clint Field , Rick Sutherland , William Binnie , Don Whittington , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , A.J. Foyt
Teams Corvette Racing , Alex Job Racing