Scott Atherton's St. Pete tips, ideas

THREE QUESTIONS WITH SCOTT ATHERTON Are you new to the American Le Mans Series and headed to Saturday's Acura Sports Car Challenge? Not to worry...Series President and CEO Scott Atherton gives tips and ideas on what to focus...

THREE QUESTIONS WITH SCOTT ATHERTON

Are you new to the American Le Mans Series and headed to Saturday's Acura Sports Car Challenge? Not to worry...Series President and CEO Scott Atherton gives tips and ideas on what to focus on this weekend during the second round of the 2009 season.

1. The American Le Mans Series is very focused on green initiatives. What is the biggest step the organization has taken in the last 12 months in this area?

"One was the highly publicized and successful running of the inaugural Green Challenge at Petit Le Mans and Road Atlanta last season. Our alliance with the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, along with SAE International, created a competition based on a number of environmental factors. That same competition will be part of all our events in 2009, including the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.

"The second was bringing Michelin, which has a long history of leadership with environmental issues and is well known for both its road-going and on- track technologies., on board as the title sponsor of the MICHELIN® Green X® Challenge for 2009."

2. The American Le Mans Series is well known for providing unique access for race fans through programs like your open grid prior to the start of each race. How did this program come to be?

"The concept of opening the grid to all fans just prior to the start of the race actually happened by accident. Our race in Portland was being broadcast live but the event leading up to the race ran long. There was a brief - but spirited - debate about potential for car damage, clearance issues, etc., but the decision was quickly made to open the grid. It was a huge success (we got emails and phone calls from fans for weeks) and immediately become a signature element of all American Le Mans Series events."

3. An American Le Mans Series race features several races within a race as different divisions/classes are competing on the track at the same time. What is one tip you can give race fans about how best to watch a Series race?

"One of the features our fans find most useful is our Leader Lights System for more, go to americanlemans.com and then click Paddock Pass). We introduced it in 2002 as a way for fans to keep track of the top runners in each class. Another option is find a favorite car or driver and follow it, much like the gallery does in golf. Watch from several different corners or straights to get a feel for the character of the track and the dynamics of the competition."

-credit: alms

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