ATMOSPHERE OF FUN AT TEXAS -- Texas Motor Speedway will have a carnival-like atmosphere for the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas, the opening race of the 2001 American Le Mans Series season on March 3-4. With the hot sports cars...
ATMOSPHERE OF FUN AT TEXAS -- Texas Motor Speedway will have a carnival-like atmosphere for the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas, the opening race of the 2001 American Le Mans Series season on March 3-4. With the hot sports cars of the ALMS in town to race, some of the international flavor of the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race will also be present at the speedway. Race-goers will be able to:
* Obtain a paddock pass to see the racing machines up-close.
* Attend a free driver autograph session at 2 p.m. Saturday.
* Ride one of four extreme rides set up in the speedway's infield, including the Zipper, Kamikazi, Starship 2000 and Sizzler.
* Hear live concerts at 11:30 a.m. each day by popular Dallas-Fort Worth-area country artists "The Dorsey Gang Troubadour and The Geoff Allen Band."
* Drive an actual race car on an autocross course in the speedway parking lot, with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas will be televised live on the Speedvision Network at 2 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time). The ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
** NEW PORSCHE MODEL IN ALMS ACTION -- Porsche will be competing in the American Le Mans Series GT class this season with a new model, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The new car is almost identical to the GT3 R that was a popular model on the ALMS tracks last year, but has a larger front radiator, a slightly different front spoiler and rear wing and other minor changes. Current GT3 R owners can purchase an update kit from Porsche which incorporates all of the improvements in the new car. Built by Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, Germany, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS delivers 420 horsepower from its 3.6-liter, normally-aspirated engine. In 1999, its first year in competition, the car finished 1-2 in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and has won the GT class in both years of the ALMS.
** SMITH JOINS ALMS STAFF -- C.Y. Smith has joined the staff of the American Le Mans Series in the position of Director of Broadcast Operations and Services. In his new position, Smith will serve as television and internet broadcast coordinator for the series and will also be broadcast liaison for the event promoters and the sanctioning body. In addition, he will be the ALMS Radio Web liaison and will serve as technical advisor for the ALMS website, as well as supervising the overhaul of the site currently in progress. Prior to joining the ALMS, he was the founder and president of Zytek Instruments, Ltd., a technology company specializing in the design, manufacture and installation of telemetry systems for use in motorsports applications. He developed the Zytek Racing Telemetry system used by CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, Speedvision and other television networks to display performance data during the live television broadcast of motorsports events.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with an Engineering degree, Smith was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1977-1983, serving as a Naval Aviator and a pilot of jet aircraft. After leaving the USMC, he owned a company that remanufactured classic sports cars, and also worked as a design agent for General Dynamics. Smith resides in Braselton, Ga.
STUCK COMPETING IN ARCTIC CHALLENGE -- American Le Mans Series driver Hans Stuck, who enjoyed diving at the Great Barrier Reef after last season's event in Adelaide, Australia, has gone from the warmth of the South Pacific to the frozen cold of Northern Canada for his latest athletic endeavor. Stuck and his personal sponsor, Fulda Tire and Rubber Company, organized the company's Arctic Challenge in the Canadian North, which will test the mettle of some of Europe's top athletes. The event includes a kart race, dogsled race, snowmobile race, mountain orientation run on snowshoes, parallel slalom ski course, ice fishing and ice climbing. In addition, contestants will navigate across the frozen Beaufort Sea using GPS guidance systems. After the competition, Stuck will join BMW Team PTG to compete in the ALMS season opener at Texas Motor Speedway.
MAASSEN BACK IN PORSCHE SUPERCUP -- Sascha Maassen will be a busy driver in 2001. In addition to running the full American Le Mans Series schedule for Alex Job Racing, the German will compete in nine of the 11 races that make up the Porsche Supercup. Maassen has joined with Britain-based Carlin Motorsports, which will be running the Porsche Supercup for the first time in 2001. The team was founded in 1996 and has been racing in the British Formula 3 championship since 1997. Software AG of Germany will sponsor the team. Maassen and Carlin Motorsports principal Trevor Carlin are being reunited for the effort. Carlin was the race engineer when Maassen competed in Formula 3 with West Surrey Racing in Monaco. "I think we will both profit out of this cooperation," said Maassen. "I can help in building up a Supercup team and can realize my wishes and thoughts, and Carlin Motorsports can benefit from my experience and contacts. "Unfortunately, I will not be able to drive for the championship because of the overlapping schedules of the ALMS and Supercup," he said. "Therefore, our goal is to bring the team to the top in the Supercup and to bring in some good race results and victories." NEW TEAM IN GTS FOR 2001 -- American Viper Racing will join the ALMS on a fulltime basis in 2001 and will field Dodge Vipers in the GTS class. The team competed in last year's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta as Patriot Motorsports. The team is owned by Tom Weickardt, an independent businessman from Wisconsin, and was formed by Weickardt and Eric Burch. The team's race cars were built as customer cars by Team ORECA, which dominated the GTS class in the ALMS the past two years but has moved to Prototype racing for 2001. Weickardt, who has several SCCA and Viper Challenge campaigns under his belt, will be one of the drivers for the team as will Joe Ellis, a former Viper Challenge Series class champion. The team will be sponsored by ESP (Electronic System Protection) and will field a second car for Texas for two other drivers to be named. Greg Syfert, who was a crew chief in the B.F. Goodrich Trans Am Series from 1994-1999, will be crew chief for the team. The crew members are mostly members of DaimlerChrysler Team Viper, the 1998 Crew of the Year for Speedvision World Challenge GT champion Viper Speed Racing (drivers Bobby Archer and Neil Hannemann). The team will carry the message "Get Well Justin" on its cars at Texas, a message to Weickardt's 21-year-son, Justin. The younger Weickardt, who has Cystic Fibrosis, recently had double lung transplant surgery.
MORE TEAMS, MANUFACTURERS, ANNOUNCE 2001 PLANS -- Several race teams and manufacturers involved in the American Le Mans Series have made announcements in the last week about their plans for the 2001 season. A summary of the announcements:
* Panoz Motor Sports announced that Gualter Salles of Brazil will be the team's fourth driver for the 2001 season, being paired with Klaus Graf in the team's #51 Prototype. Jan Magnussen and David Brabham will remain a driving duo for the #50.
* Alex Job Racing announced that Randy Pobst will remain as one of the team's drivers for 2001 and will be paired with German Christian Menzel. The team's other Porsche 911 GT3 RS will be driven by ALMS veterans Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. Both cars will be sponsored by McKenna Automotive Group.
* Porsche announced that the White Lightning/Westward Ho Casino race team owned by Dale White and Mike Peterson will field a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for Bob Wollek and Johnny Mowlem.
* Kelly-Moss Racing will field a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 RS machines in the ALMS. One car will be driven by David Murry and Anthony Lazzaro and the other will have Rick Polk and Cort Wagner sharing driving duties. Veteran crew chief Tony Dowe will be in charge of the effort.
* Porsche also announced that Dick Barbour Racing, last year's ALMS GT championship team, will field a car to be co-driven by Mexico's Randy Wars and New York's Mark Nuehaus.
QUICK NOTES: The first race for the new Panoz GT Series will be held this weekend at Road Atlanta .... Audrey Zavodksy, who competed last year on the Women's Global GT Series and will run the Panoz GT Series this year, will be a guest speaker at the University of Illinois in April. She will address students on "Cars, racing and opportunities for women." Zavodsky's racing efforts this year will again be sponsored by Visteon .... Members of the Champion Racing team have returned to their Florida shop from Audi motorsports shops in Ingolstadt, Germany, with the Audi R8 Prototype they will race in ALMS events this season ....