PORSCHE LEADERSHIP CHANGES JANUARY 1 - Porsche, which has more wins in the American Le Mans Series than any other manufacturer, will make important motorsports leadership changes as Alwin Springer, 60, will hand his position as President of...
PORSCHE LEADERSHIP CHANGES JANUARY 1 - Porsche, which has more wins in the American Le Mans Series than any other manufacturer, will make important motorsports leadership changes as Alwin Springer, 60, will hand his position as President of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) to his successor Uwe Brettel, 38, as of January 1.
Since 1997, Springer, born in Essen, Germany, has directed the activities of the Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG subsidiary based in Santa Ana, Calif. Brettel, who holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering, headed the Porsche Makes Cup Organization (Supercup and Carrera Cup) until the end of 2002.
Springer, for whom the recent weekend at the final round of the American Le Mans Series at Road Atlanta was the last in his current position, shaped and promoted Porsche motorsport not only through exclusive retailing and servicing of Porsche racing sportscars and parts in the USA as well as Canada, but also played a central role in US motorsport organizations and belonged to those who molded the sport in the world's largest market for Porsche. His efficient working style combined with strong ethics and distinctive originality made him - and Porsche Motorsport North America - an institution.
Employed as a consultant to PMNA since 1990, Springer not only became the principal to many race drivers but, most of all, became their confidante and friend. His far-reaching connections earned him the reputation as "Porsche's motorsport ambassador" to the USA.
Springer has been closely linked to Porsche motorsport in the USA since 1969 when he took over the responsibility for Porsche racing vehicles with the California dealer, Vasek Polak. In 1975 Springer together with Arnold Wagner and Dieter Inzenhofer founded Andial, an enterprise specializing in the preparation and running of Porsche race cars and engines. In a five-year period from 1984, Porsche's 962 cars won 50 IMSA races with engines tuned by Andial.
Under the direction of Springer, production-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and GT3 RS cars have been successfully competing since the end of the 1990s with customer teams. In September of 2003, Porsche customers supported by works drivers secured the GT championship of the American Le Mans Series for the second year in a row and fourth time in five years.
Since May 1, 2003, Brettel - a Porsche employee since 1995 - has held the position of vice-president of PMNA. "Alwin is handing me a well-established role. I hope to add a few new areas of emphasis," said Brettel.
Brettel took over as head of the international Porsche Michelin Supercup in 1996 and one year later Porsche also gave him the added responsibility of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. He successfully managed both one-make series until the end of 2002 and furthermore organized the factory entry at Le Mans in 1997 and 1998.
NEW BAM! TEAM TO ENTER ALMS GT RANKS - BAM! (British American Motorsport) will enter the GT class of the American Le Mans Series as a new racing team for the 2004 season.
Though a new organization, the team will be composed of many veterans of American Le Mans Series competition, including team co-owners Tim Munday of Jupiter, Fla., and Peter Baron of Deerfield Beach, Fla. Munday will serve as technical director and Baron as business director.
Lead mechanic Matt Bishop will be supported by a racing crew of British and American heritage working from the team's shop in Stuart, Fla.
Leo Hindery of New York will be the lead driver for the team's Porsche with co-drivers to be announced. The team principals plan to renew partnerships with both Porsche Motorsport North America and Michelin, and the YES Network will be sponsor of the car, with more sponsors to be announced.
Members of BAM! were previously affiliated with Orbit Racing, a multi-faceted business that includes a race team, a Porsche parts distributorship and an engine and chassis building and tuning facility. Baron, Bishop, Hindery and Munday have reorganized as BAM!, a racing-only entity, to build on their 2003 success, which included a second-place GT finish in the 24 Heures du Mans and Porsche Cup honors for driver Marc Lieb of Niefern, Germany.
"We really believe in the ALMS and we are totally committed to its 'For the Fans' theme," said Hindery. "This racing-only approach allows us to commit all of our energies to the ALMS with no distractions. We look forward to continuing the partnerships we established, especially those with Porsche and Michelin."
Rodger Hawley, owner of Orbit Racing, has told IMSA officials that his team plans to continue racing in 2004 and will be announcing its plans soon.
THE LIZARD IS HATCHED - With perhaps one of the most unusual names and looks in racing, Flying Lizard Motorsports will join the American Le Mans Series in 2004 and will race a Porsche in the GT class.
The California-based team has five principals, including drivers Seth Neiman of Burlingame, Calif., Lonnie Pechnik of Pacific Grove, Calif., and Johannes van Overbeek of San Francisco, along with chief engineer Craig Watkins and crew chief Tommy Sadler.
Van Overbeek is a former winner in American Le Mans Series competition, taking GT class honors in a BMW M3 in a race at Road Atlanta in April of 1999 while driving for the PTG team. Neiman and Pechnik will race in ALMS competition for the first time in 2004.
COCA-COLA SIGNS FIVE-YEAR SEBRING DEAL - Sebring International Raceway and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will continue to have the sponsorship support of Coca-Cola for the next five years under the terms of a new agreement, extending a relationship than began nearly five decades ago.
"Having Coca-Cola extend its sponsorship as the Official Soft Drink of Sebring International Raceway helps solidify our long-term marketing goals," said Tres Stephenson, Raceway President. "This further indicates the confidence our marketing partners have in Sebring and the American Le Mans Series."
The agreement with Coca-Cola includes the production of a second Sebring International Raceway commemorative bottle. In 2002, Coca-Cola produced the Sebring 50th Anniversary bottle that proved to be very popular with race fans.
The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will kick off the 2004 American Le Mans Series season March 15-20. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling 1-800-626-7223.
MAASSEN WINS ANOTHER 24-HOUR RACE - Two-time American Le Mans Series GT class champion Sascha Maassen not only scored his first win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003, he also recently won a 24-hour race of another kind.
Maassen teamed with three others to win the 24 Hours of Hamburg, a slot car race held every year since 1991 in Hamburg, Germany. Maassen, who drives a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for the Alex Job Racing team in the ALMS, "drove" a slot-car replica of the Porsche 911 in the race, which he also won in 1997.
Maassen and his three teammates took two-hour stints in the race, gaining an advantage on competitors who changed drivers every hour. The rules for the race require lane changes every hour and the drivers must stand throughout their stint.
One of Maassen's co-drivers was Thomas Voigt, the public relations representative for Infineon Team Joest on the ALMS. Ralf Juttner, Technical Director for the Joest team, also competed in the race and finished fourth with a Peugeot 206 WRC.
The winning team completed 7,374 laps on the slot-car track and led 650 laps, winning the race by a margin of 161 laps. Voigt had won the pole position with a lap of 10.648 seconds and tied for the fastest lap in the race with a time of 10.471.