Leveling the playing field

Leveling the Playing Field, Grand-Am Style By: Bill Oursler Officials of the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series have taken a different approach to maintaining rules stability and controlling costs. Instead of specifying overall formulae for...

Leveling the Playing Field, Grand-Am Style
By: Bill Oursler

Officials of the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series have taken a different approach to maintaining rules stability and controlling costs. Instead of specifying overall formulae for the cars and engines in both the Daytona Prototype and GT production categories, the authorities have paid individual attention to each car and engine type.

As Don Hayward, the former Ford racing man now working for Grand-Am in the DP arena put it, "With our prototypes, we evaluate each engine type individually on NASCAR's North Carolina dyno to equalize the torque curve through the top of the band." According to Hayward, this is done by limiting the engine's revs and mandating critical internal components such as the gears, throttle bodies, etc. "What we want is roughly the same amount of torque at the limit back down by 2000 revs where the engine works the most," he said.

According to this weekend's test times at Daytona International Speedway, the formula seems to be working with less than two and a half seconds separating the top 20 prototypes.

As for the new production cars, Grand-Am competition director, Mark Raffauf said that same philosophy was applied to the whole car package.

"What we've done is to reduce costs and produce a class that's about five to ten seconds off the pace of the prototypes depending on the track. For cars such as the GT3 Cup Porsches, the Ferraris, BMWs and the Maseratis, they are raced as they come from the factory. The rest of their competition like the new Pontiac GTOs, Mustangs, Corvettes and Mazda RX7s, can use tubeframes with look-alike body panels that are essentially totally stock in appearance."

Raffauf said that the same type of individual engine performance limitations employed in the Daytona Prototype universe is used in the GT arena.

At the moment the GT division is dominated by the former SGS Porsche GT3 Cup entries, which have in effect been given "steroids" for their new journey.

However, Raffauf and his fellow Grand-Am officials fully expect that before long the GT wars will expand to include a number of American based rivals to create the same kind of inter-marque competition now found among the prototypes. - Bill Oursler

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Series Grand-Am