** CORVETTES TO RACE AT PORTLAND -- In a surprising move, the two-car Corvette Racing team has entered next weekend's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland at Portland (OR) International Raceway. The Aug. 5 race was not...
** CORVETTES TO RACE AT PORTLAND -- In a surprising move, the two-car Corvette Racing team has entered next weekend's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland at Portland (OR) International Raceway.
The Aug. 5 race was not originally on the GM factory team's schedule of ALMS events this season, and the team appeared to be planning to stick to its schedule, even as recently as following its victory last week at Sears Point Raceway.
However, the possibility of driver, team and manufacturer championships in the GTS class of the ALMS looms large for Corvette, and the team officially entered the race this morning. Not competing at Portland would have severely crimped the title chances in all categories.
Ron Fellows, who leads a very tight battle for the GTS driver's championship, will again team with Johnny O'Connell at Portland in one of the Corvettes, while Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins will drive the other.
** ARCHER RETURNS TO ALMS AT PORTLAND -- American driver Tommy Archer will return to the American Le Mans Series when he competes for American Viperacing in the Grand Prix of Portland.
Archer, who was a regular competitor on the ALMS in 1999 and 2000, is very familiar with the Dodge Viper GTS-R racer. The Duluth, Minn., resident drove for Team ORECA during the first two seasons of the ALMS, recording one victory each year. He also holds the GTS track qualifying record at the 1.944-mile Portland track, a mark he set in 1999.
Archer has been driving a Viper this season in the Trans-Am Series and will pull double-duty at Portland, racing in both the ALMS and Trans-Am events.
American Viperacing has entered Archer as a co-driver with Jeff Altenburg for the event.
** WENDLINGER JOINS BMW FOR PETIT LE MANS -- Austrian Karl Wendlinger will be joining Team BMW Motorsport in October for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Wendlinger will be the third driver for the BMW M3 GTR along with JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller in the 10-hour race.
The 32-year-old Wendlinger, a former Formula One driver, is certainly no stranger to American Le Mans Series competition. He spent the 1999 and 2000 season driving Dodge Vipers for Team ORECA and scored 12 wins, most of them coming as a co-driver with Olivier Beretta.
Wendlinger has been working with Team ORECA in its testing and development of the new Chrysler LMP 900 racer and finished fourth last month in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He has also been racing in the V8 Star series in Europe.
"I had the opportunity to test the BMW M3 GTR and was very impressed," said Wendlinger. "I'm really looking forward to driving this car at Road Atlanta. JJ and Jorg are strong partners and the team is known for its good strategies and fast pit stops, which are crucial factors in an endurance race."
** ALMS CARS TO ROAR IN DOWNTOWN PORTLAND -- The downtown area of Portland, Ore., will come alive with the sites and sounds of American Le Mans Series race cars on Thursday, August 2, three days before the Grand Prix of Portland at nearby Portland International Raceway.
The "Drive Through Portland" event will begin at 11 a.m. as several ALMS cars drive on city streets for a 12-block run through the center of Downtown Portland. The cars will drive to Pioneer Courthouse Square, where they will then be displayed until 2 p.m.
As part of the festivities, ALMS drivers will meet fans and sign autographs from noon until 1 p.m., giving workers on lunch breaks in the downtown area the chance to see the cars and drivers.
Among the participants will be Audi driver Frank Biela, one of the winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000 and 2001. Biela will be behind the wheel of the famed Audi R8 Prototype on the Portland streets.
Participants will also include a Panoz LMP-1 Roadster and a Saleen S7R, along with cars from both the Trans-Am Series and the Speedvision World Challenge.
** ALMS DRIVERS TO MEET FANS IN PORTLAND -- Drivers from the American Le Mans Series and the Trans-Am Series will meet fans and race against the clock (and each other) at Malibu Grand Prix in Beaverton, Ore., on Thursday, Aug. 2. Drivers will be on hand from 5-8 p.m.
Drivers will race against some members of the Portland-area media between 5 and 6 p.m., and will then race against fans from 6-8 p.m. A donation of $1 per lap will benefit the Diabetes Foundation, and fans will have the opportunity to win a family pack of tickets to the Grand Prix of Portland every half-hour.
The event will be live on Portland radio station KWJJ and local TV station WB32 will also have live cut-ins, as well as on-site promotions.