Nancy Knapp Schilke
For the past several years, it has been expected that Dr. Don Panoz would eventually find the right buyer for his holdings, and prior to the 10:00am EST press teleconference, the leak to Speed.com has confirmed that NASCAR Holdings has acquired the Panoz Motor Sports Group (PMSG) including more than just the American Le Mans Series. Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway are included in the deal that is reported to be six figures.
It was also stated that Sebring will not be fully purchased; it will be via a lease agreement.
Apparently the neither the ALMS nor the Grand-Am Rolex Series will have dramatic changes for the 2013 season. The actual merger that will create one North American sportscar series will see the green flag in 2014. The staff and officials for both series have been kept abreast of the future changes, along with the manufacturers and the teams that compete in both the ALMS and the Rolex Grand-Am series.
Co-founder of the Grand-American Road Racing series, Jim France, is expected to serve as Chairman of the unified series. Panoz will stay continue to have an active voice as Vice Chairman. The current CEO of ALMS, Scott Atherton, will apparently be named President of the new venture. Rumor has it that once the merger is completed, the united series will have a new name.
Sportscar racing in North America has changed names many times over the years including the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America under the leadership of John Bishop before Grand American Road Racing Association (GARRA) was formed and took control of the previous series in the same year that the ALMS opened its doors.
Prior to the USRRC, it was the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) that was the sanctioning body of sports car racing, and many may not recall that the man behind the scene of IMSA’s creation was Bill France, Sr. His lead man to oversee the organization was Bishop.
The news now that both Grand-Am and ALMS will be under the NASCAR umbrella seems fitting.
One of the main questions will concern the differences between the current classes in both series. It is unclear at this time how they will merge the two top classes with the difference of speed and manufacturing; which is of course the prototype class. The GT class of BMW, Chevrolet, Porsche, and Ferrari cars will see changes also but not to the same degree.
The fastest cars in ALMS are Prototype 1, and currently only two teams exist. It is expected that the P1s will be dropped. The P2 class should survive as will the current Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes. The famous DeltaWing that made history at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will also be included in the “new” class.
Stay tune as Motorsport.com staff will report on the news tomorrow morning after the special teleconference in Daytona Beach.
See also Future plans