Cars play to Mexico City crowd

Huge Mexico City crowd sees American Le Mans demonstration laps; event promotion well underway. MEXICO CITY (November 17, 2002) -- A huge crowd of Mexican race fans got a taste of the American Le Mans Series as series stars Stefan Johansson ...

Huge Mexico City crowd sees American Le Mans demonstration laps; event promotion well underway.

MEXICO CITY (November 17, 2002) -- A huge crowd of Mexican race fans got a taste of the American Le Mans Series as series stars Stefan Johansson and Gunnar Jeannette hit the revitalized Mexico City circuit for demonstration laps in conjunction with today's CART season finale race.

The American Le Mans Series will race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the first time April 4-6, 2003. The race will be the second of the 2003 season for the sports car endurance racing series.

Before hundreds of thousands of fans at today's Telemex Gigante Grand Premio of Mexico, Johansson drove the Champion Racing Audi R8 and Jeannette steered the Panoz Motor Sports Panoz LMP-01. The laps were designed to demonstrate the Prototype race cars to the attending fans and whet their appetite for next year's event. Mexican driver Jimmy Morales shared the Panoz with Jeannette in the final two demonstration runs.

Johansson and Jeannette were stunned by the overwhelming welcome they received from the Mexican race fans.

"Compared to when I raced here in Formula One, the circuit is really unbelievable," said Johansson. "They really have done an amazing job at the facilities and looking at the reaction from the fans, I think the race here will be one of the highlights of the season."

The chance to try the circuit was an incredible experience for the 20-year-old Jeannette, who was still in grade school when the famed circuit last hosted Formula One and World Sportscar Championship races.

"The reaction from the fans was a huge shock for everybody," said Jeannette. "The circuit is fantastic, the organization brilliant and the facilities will probably be the best we race at all year.

"The attention to detail is what has really impressed me," said Jeannette. "Our truck drivers even had an official escort from the U.S. border right to the circuit.

"I have never signed so many autographs in my life and we were only here for a demonstration," Jeannette said. "This race could be the biggest event of the ALMS year."

The American Le Mans Series cars took to the track four times during the CART weekend, including twice on race day. Promotion for next year's event has already begun with enormous banners for the race displayed around the circuit today and thousands of fliers distributed to attendees.

Today's CART FedEx Championship Series event was the first at the circuit since it was revitalized into a state-of-the-art venue. American promoter Gerald Forsythe joined forces with Mexican entertainment corporation CIE to rebuild the circuit and promote both the ALMS and CART events.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Gunnar Jeannette , Gerald Forsythe , Jimmy Morales