Notes of interest 2000-11-22

** The date is drawing closer for the 2000 American Le Mans Series season finale, the "Race of a Thousand Years" on the Adelaide, Australia, street circuit, on Sunday, Dec. 31. The event will be a six-hour race. ALMS cars will take to the ...

** The date is drawing closer for the 2000 American Le Mans Series season finale, the "Race of a Thousand Years" on the Adelaide, Australia, street circuit, on Sunday, Dec. 31. The event will be a six-hour race.

ALMS cars will take to the 2.3973-mile circuit for the first time for practice on Friday, Dec. 29, and that day's activities will also include night practice. Qualifying and more practice will be held on Saturday, Dec. 30, with the race starting at 4 p.m. (Adelaide time) on Sunday.

The Race of a Thousand Years will be televised in the United States on a same-day delay basis from 2-4 p.m. (Eastern time), and will be televised live on Eurosport. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

** One of the most significant awards that will be presented at the ALMS awards ceremony in Adelaide on Jan. 1 will be the second annual "From The Fans" award. Fans of the American Le Mans Series now 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 2000 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.

** The new 2001 Panoz Prototype, which was revealed to the public for the first time during September's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, has had its maiden voyage on a racing circuit.

The Panoz LMP Challenger took to the track for the first time on Nov. 17 at the famous Silverstone circuit in England, with David Brabham at the controls. Brabham's laps were the start of an intensive testing program for the car before it makes its competitive debut at Adelaide next month.

The first of the 2001 chassis, which was only completed in the days prior to the test, had been shaken down at a closed proving ground in the U.K. but had not been on an actual racing circuit prior to Brabham's run.

"My initial impressions are that the car has enormous potential," said Brabham. "Everything about it is an improvement from last year. The drivability of the new Panoz V8 engine is great, and it's very progressive on the throttle, and I'm sure that by the time we get to race the car, the engine will surprise a few people."

An opportunity to run briefly at Silverstone under the watchful eyes of Panoz Director of Racing David Price, Technical Director John Baldwin and Chief Designer Andy Thorby was seized upon before the car was shipped to the United States for the remainder of its test program.

Key members of Zytek and Xtrac were also on hand at Silverstone to monitor the performance of the new lightweight Panoz four-liter V8 engine and the new compact transverse gearbox.

The company's founder, Don Panoz, had been present when the final touches were put to the car, and he was able to press the button to fire the engine in the new chassis for the first time. The engine had already undergone several hundred miles of testing in a mule car.

The car will be testing in the warmer and dryer climate of the Southern United States for the remainder of November and part of December before it is shipped to Australia.

** The recently-announced LMP675 class for the American and European Le Mans Series has led to the formation of a race team that will make its debut at Adelaide.

Motorsports Image Management (MIM-Sport) has joined with Project 2000 Raceworks and Racing Projects Australia to enter a factory-supported Pilbeam LMP675 Nissan in the "Race of a Thousand Years" in Adelaide.

Headed up by experienced sports car/GT driver manager Andy Woolgar and longtime Group C and GT engineer Roy Baker, the outfit run from Bournemouth, England, has completed a successful test at the Silverstone circuit and has already sent its car by sea to Adelaide.

The MIM driving squad consists of ex-BTCC and Australian Super-Touring driver Jamie Wall, 2000 British National Supersports champion Michael Mallock and current Australian touring car racer Jim Cornish. All three drove during the test at Silverstone.

"I came 12,000 miles from Sydney for the test and I am not disappointed," said Cornish. "I had only seen photos of the car before the test and it looks equally impressive in the flesh. It's nothing like I have driven before, but it gave me so much confidence that I feel I will adapt very speedily."

Though the plans for the team after the Adelaide event are up in the air, Woolgar said that the team is studying a full effort in either the ALMS or ELMS.

** Women's Global GT Series driver Wendy Lee will co-drive in the six-hour Texas Shootout Enduro on Nov. 25 at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Tex. Her co-drivers will be her husband, Jerry Lee, and Paul Costas, in a Witchdoctor Motorsports entry.

The event is an SCCA regional race and the three will be driving an American Sedan Chevrolet Camaro.

Lee, who will run the full AS National season in 2001, is working on sponsorship to compete in the full WGGTS season as well.

** The Speedvision Network will televise the Women's Global GT Series race that was held Oct. 29 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 12:30 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time) on Sunday, Nov. 26.

The Las Vegas event was the season finale for the WGGTS, and the telecast marks the end of six consecutive Sundays of WGGTS racing on Speedvision.

** Fans of the American Le Mans Series and sports car racing have a chance to vote for the Sports Car Driver of the Millennium, and the Sports Car of the Millennium. The poll is being conducted on the ALMS website at www.americanlemans.com.

The voting process began at the recent Las Vegas race, and a large response has been generated. The winners will be announced at the Australia race.

A feature of the online poll on the ALMS website will be soundbites with ALMS drivers, owners and team managers talking about their choices in the two categories.

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