Jim Hunter commentary on sports car crossover concept

Crossover Concept From The 'Other' Sports Car Organization Is Ill-Advised, Counter-Productive By Jim Hunter Every once in a while, the hair on the back of my neck stands up when someone's remarks about NASCAR or Grand-Am seem to be hitting below...

Crossover Concept From The 'Other' Sports Car Organization Is Ill-Advised, Counter-Productive
By Jim Hunter

Every once in a while, the hair on the back of my neck stands up when someone's remarks about NASCAR or Grand-Am seem to be hitting below the belt.

There's some misleading chatter coming from another sanctioning body in recent weeks which prompts me to get on my Grand-Am soapbox.

Just because I spend a majority of my time on NASCAR's many racing divisions, it doesn't mean I'm unaware of what's going on in American road racing. The other sanctioning body has come upon hard times and is hoping to cannibalize Grand-Am.

Grand-Am, from my point of view, is the best thing to happen to sports car racing in this country in several decades.

Granted, I'm biased, but it's certainly no secret road racing and sports car racing in America has had more ups and downs than the Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia over the past 50 years or so. Manufacturers have been in and out, dictating self-serving rules that eventually whittle the competition down to nothing. It has happened more than once in sports car racing.

That's why the Grand-Am Series was formed 10 years ago. It was formed by a group of folks who wanted to put some stability into the sport, and they have.

Hopefully, idle promises won't be enough to sway Grand-Am's loyal teams to take a chance on such an ill-advised crossover that harkens back to the days of past failures in sports car racing.

Grand-Am was developed on the premise that teams would come into the series and race without having to invest fresh capital each year for equipment. This product and class stability has allowed Grand-Am to retain stalwart teams and also attract new ones each season.

The Daytona Prototypes were conceived with three goals in mind. They were designed to be safe, using a very strong roll cage design and a closed top.

They were designed to be low cost, easy service, easy to fix after crashing. Varied parts suppliers are readily accessible.

In addition, the prototypes were designed to be fun to drive and race for a broad range of drivers and teams.

Grand-Am participants know exactly what to expect. Grand-Am officials have consistently balanced the technical package so that multiple chassis constructors and engines win races. Grand-Am also has rules to balance the performance of pro teams with those that include a gentleman racer. In fact, Grand-Am has had gentleman racers win races overall every year.

The other sanctioning body I referred to is the American Le Mans Series, which has apparently created a hodge-podge rules package to further add to the confusion of participants and fans alike. It is certainly disappointing to see a group or a series that billed itself as world class to use such a misguided approach.

History tells us that is not a very good business model. Modifying class rules to sweep all available race cars onto the grid has taken place many, many times, unsuccessfully I might add, and has never produced any lasting results. There are always significant differences between classes being merged and there are always significant costs to change from existing configuration to proposed configuration. Speeding up one group or slowing down one group is going to cost one of them money, probably both. Slowing up existing GT2 cars will cost somebody money, which actually wastes a year of development by GM, BMW, Mazda and Porsche.

To require people to spend significant money on a band-aid, short-term solution is an ill-conceived approach for a hard-pressed racing industry during these difficult economic times.

Grand-Am's foundation is solid. Its goals remain clear -- close competition -- lots of passing -- exciting racing -- a broad array of drivers -- combining to present the best sports car racing in North America.

Grand-Am will be well-served to stay its course and disregard the calculated misinformation and propaganda being circulated to undermine Grand-Am's success.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am , NASCAR
Drivers Jim Hunter