The American Le Mans Series announced a 12-race schedule for the 2007 season, featuring three new venues. Braselton, Ga. - Boasting three noteworthy new venues and major media markets, the American Le Mans Series today unveiled an ambitious ...
The American Le Mans Series announced a 12-race schedule for the 2007 season, featuring three new venues.
Braselton, Ga. - Boasting three noteworthy new venues and major media markets, the American Le Mans Series today unveiled an ambitious 2007 schedule - the most comprehensive in the eight-year history of the Series. The 12-event schedule, featuring new races in St. Petersburg, FL; Long Beach, CA and Detroit, MI impacts seven of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 U.S. media markets as the Series increases its ever-growing reach.
The reconfigured 2007 American Le Mans Series slate counts an all-time high of five events in the early season competition window prior to the traditional 24 Hours of Le Mans hiatus in June - the most in Series annals - an expanded television package featuring additional SPEED telecast exposures and network partnerships with both CBS and NBC Sports as well as a more balanced schedule in the second half of the season. SPEED will air seven of the 12 races including special offerings from St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Detroit and the four-race run to the title to close the season. CBS Sports will air four consecutive races in 2007 with NBC Sports returning to the Series broadcast ranks in August. The American Le Mans Series will share co-feature billing at certain weekends with both the Indy Racing League and Champ Car as the demand for top-level professional sports car racing in key markets continues to rise.
"Each year brings new and exciting opportunities and world-class venues to the American Le Mans Series," said President and CEO Scott Atherton. "In addition to returning to the best road racing venues in North America, our competitors and corporate partners will have the ability to reach new, critical major markets and race fans that will only help grow our sport and Series. One of the hallmarks of a successful, viable organization is continued growth and reach and after saying last year that the 2006 schedule was the strongest in our history, we have raised the bar in a big way for the premium brand of motorsport in North America. Everybody wins with this schedule."
After opening on March 17 with the traditional 55th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Series moves directly to its first new market initiative as part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday, March 31. Two weeks later, the American Le Mans Series brand of top-level sports car racing will be introduced to America's No. 2 media market, on one of the enduring and most popular racing weekends on the world calendar, the Long Beach Grand Prix (April 14). The Southern California market is a top priority for nearly all of the Series teams and participation in the Long Beach Grand Prix represents a direct hit on the largest automotive market in the world. A week later on April 21, the Series returns to the fourth most populous city in the U.S. for the second running of the Lone Star Grand Prix as part of the Grand Prix of Houston weekend.
As another element of the revamped schedule, May 19 marks the return of the American Le Mans Series to the spectacular new 4.5-mile, 24-turn Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City for the second running of the Grand Prix of Utah that produced the closest prototype finish of the season to date in the inaugural run last July.
After the traditional break to allow the top teams from the American Le Mans Series to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Series teams and manufacturers face a seven-race run to the championship beginning with the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on July 7, a week later than its traditional window in an effort to assist teams returning from Le Mans. Two weeks later, the American Le Mans Series will again be featured at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, on a date which moves from late May to the July 20-22 weekend.
The 2007 American Le Mans Series schedule features a busy August for the competitors beginning with a doubleheader weekend involving the Series and Champ Car at Road America, August 10-12, a race that will be seen live on NBC Sports. The visit to Elkhart Lake will be followed by a run to Canada's No. 1 market (Toronto) for the Grand Prix of Mosport, August 24-26. Then, on August 30-September 1, the Series swings into the Motor City for a new event organized by Roger Penske and run on the renovated and improved venue at Belle Isle. The Series will be joined by the IRL for this Labor Day weekend event.
"The American Le Mans Series features more manufacturer involvement than any other racing series in the world, " Atherton said. "By participating in this groundbreaking event in Detroit, we will enable our current - and future - manufacturers partnering with our Series to showcase their relevant technology that goes from the race track to the showroom floor - in the automotive capital of the world. We couldn't imagine a better fit."
With more and more top line international competitors seeking out the American Le Mans Series, the 10th anniversary running of Petit Le Mans - the founding event for the Series - will move to October 6, 2007 at Road Atlanta. Two weeks later, the 12-race schedule concludes with what has quickly become a traditional four-hour endurance test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20.
"We are truly excited about not only our new venues and expanded lineup, but also the balance and logistical flow of our 2007 schedule," said Tim Mayer, COO of the American Le Mans Series and IMSA. "Each year it is gratifying to see new venues and promoters reach out to us because they understand the value that the American Le Mans Series brings to their market and fans. This was evidenced last year at Houston and Salt Lake City. It is a great growth opportunity for our Series to not only race at the historic and traditional courses of Sebring, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Mosport, Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca, but also to take our exciting brand and series to new venues like St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Detroit. It creates so many opportunities for our manufacturers, teams and partners."
Absent from the Series' 2007 slate is the Portland Grand Prix. "While we regret that we are not able to return to Portland in 2007, we want to thank Mike Nealy, his Global Events Group staff and the great fans in the Pacific Northwest for their support these last several years and hope that we have the chance to return in the future," Atherton said. "Certain business developments accompanied by a realignment of priorities that are the result of new constituents joining the Series have created opportunities in new markets for us," he added.
The third annual Sebring Winter Test will kick off 2007 American Le Mans Series activities at the venerable circuit on January 22-24, 2007.