Sebring: Series opening day news 2008-03-10

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES' STRING OF ANNOUNCEMENTS CREATES MOMENTUM UNPARALLELED IN SERIES' HISTORY It all started at the State of the Series annual media and constituent update session a little more than four months ago at Petit Le Mans in...

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES' STRING OF ANNOUNCEMENTS CREATES MOMENTUM UNPARALLELED IN SERIES' HISTORY

It all started at the State of the Series annual media and constituent update session a little more than four months ago at Petit Le Mans in October 2007.

Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, has coined a favorite line or two over the last several years - "If you only knew what we knew" followed by "It is not our news to announce. And while such comments may have been frustrating for some to hear, the Series has consistently delivered on the veiled promises, albeit on a schedule that has been dictated by others."

However, the news coming out of the American Le Mans Series since before the end of last season clearly indicates that the rising sports car series has as much momentum as anyone in sports right now.

The string of significant announcements began in October, and as Casey Kasem would say: "The hits just keep coming." The impressive litany of good news for America's fastest growing motorsports entity is as follows:

Bill Riley and Lou Gigliotti announce that they will bring a Riley Technologies-built Corvette C6 to the GT2 grid beginning in 2008.

Joel Feinberg of Primetime Race Group announces that he will race a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe in the Series' GT2 class for the full 2008 season.

Kevin Doran announces yet a third new addition to the GT2 grid with a Ford GT program designed to roll out at Sebring to begin the 2008 season.

The American Le Mans Series announces a new three-year agreement with SPEED as well as five network races with ABC and NBC Sports, including Long Beach and the prestigious season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Lord Paul Drayson, a longtime member of Parliament's House of Lords who served as its Defense Minister, resigns to create Drayson-Barwell Motorsport with the specific intent of racing an Aston Martin Vantage V8 fueled with bio-ethanol in the American Le Mans Series beginning at Sebring.

The American Le Mans Series creates a marketing partnership with the North American International Auto Show, demonstrating its commitment to the multitude of automobile manufacturers that race in the world's premier sports car series.

At an overflow-crowd press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International recognize the American Le Mans Series as the only race series in America that meets the strict standards of a green racing series.

The American Le Mans Series, with support of the DOE, EPA and SAE, announces the creation of a "Green Challenge" - a race within a race at Petit Le Mans in 2008 - that will be a measure of a team's performance, fuel efficiency and ecological impact during the race.

Corvette Racing announces in conjunction with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) that it will campaign a cellulosic ethanol (made from wood waste) E85 for the 2008 season.

Andretti Green Racing announces that it is adding former F1 and IRL driver Christian Fittipaldi to its driver lineup to join Bryan Herta for the 2008 season.

Scott Sharp, the IRL's career leader in starts and nine-time victor, joins Acura's Highcroft Racing as David Brabham's seatmate for the coming campaign.

Tequila Patrón, a fixture in motorsports sponsorship and globally recognized super-premium brand, announces its backing of Sharp and Highcroft Racing as its primary corporate partner for 2008. Highcroft Racing becomes Patrón Highcroft Racing. Patrón also becomes an official partner of the American Le Mans Series.

Acura, at the Sebring Winter Test, announces that it will bring a fourth team to the LMP2 grid in 2008 via De Ferran Motorsports with former Indy 500 winner and CART champion Gil de Ferran heading the team and serving as one of the drivers.

Aston Martin, under the auspices of Bell Motorsports, returns with an Aston Martin DBR9 to GT1 where two years earlier it provided Corvette Racing with a formidable challenge to the championship in a season that did not see the title resolved until the last lap of the last race.

Mazda unveils its new "green" racing machine - the Lola B07/46-Mazda MZR-R with new partners BP and Yokohama. A few weeks earlier at the North American International Auto Show, Mazda unveiled a high-tech concept sports car developed and created through its efforts and accomplishments in the American Le Mans Series.

The American Le Mans Series adds two new tire manufacturers to its fold - Hankook and Falken - bringing the Series' total to six, more than any other major racing series in the world. The others are Michelin, Yokohama, Kumho and Dunlop.

BMW announces at the Chicago Auto Show that it would return to the Series in 2009 with a new BMW M3 coupe in a factory-managed program run by Rahal Letterman Racing in GT2.

Peugeot announces that it is bringing its LMP1 diesel to the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to compete against Audi's two-car armada of R10 TDIs. Audi has won at Sebring every year since 2000 and defeated Peugeot head-to head last summer in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"We have never experienced a period of such growth and momentum as we have seen these last several months," Atherton said. "Add a 45 percent attendance increase last year to everything else that has happened recently, and there is no question that the American Le Mans Series is clearly established as America's premier road-course series.

"Industry insiders, racing fans and viewers have discovered a real affinity and appreciation for what has made us both the world's most relevant racing series and one of the fastest growing sports entities in the world.

"And if you only knew what I know ... because there is more to come."

The 2008 American Le Mans Series season opens with the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 15. The race will start at 10 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live by SPEED, which will begin its coverage at 9:30 a.m. MotorsTV, Fox Latin America, 7TV in Russia and Greenlight Television will provide international coverage as well. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

-credit: alms

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Christian Fittipaldi , Bryan Herta , Lou Gigliotti , Kevin Doran , Paul Drayson , Joel Feinberg
Teams Corvette Racing