** TEXAS OPENER DRAWING CLOSER -- American Le Mans Series racing teams in the United States and abroad are busily preparing their cars for the 2001 season opener, the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft....
** TEXAS OPENER DRAWING CLOSER -- American Le Mans Series racing teams in the United States and abroad are busily preparing their cars for the 2001 season opener, the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Tex., on Mar. 3-4. In keeping with a downsized format that will be used at many ALMS races in 2001, the Texas event will have two official days of activity, along with a sanctioned promoter's test day. The test day will be on Friday, Mar. 2, while official practice and qualifying for the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas will be on Saturday, Mar. 3. The two-hour, 45-minute ALMS race will be held on Sunday, Mar. 4, starting at 1 p.m. (CST). The race will be televised live by Speedvision, and the ALMS Radio Web broadcast of the race can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com. Tickets for the weekend are available online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com, through Ticketmaster or from the TMS box office at (817) 215-8500. Discount ticket coupons are available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at 11 Leather Center stores, as well as all O'Reilly Auto Parts and Long John Silver's locations.
** NEW NUMBERS FOR AUDI, PANOZ TEAMS -- In keeping with a tradition that is observed in many forms of auto racing, the ALMS championship-winning Audi team will adorn its car with #1 in 2001, replacing the #77 that it carried last year. Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello will be the co-drivers. Panoz Motor Sports, which carried #1 and #2 on its Prototypes in 2000, has elected to use #50 and #51 for its two-car effort this year. That move freed #2 for Audi, which will switch its second car from #78 to #2 to allow its team to have sequential numbers.
** SPRING TRAINING AT ROAD ATLANTA -- Many ALMS teams are expected to shake down their cars in two days of testing this weekend at Road Atlanta. ALMS cars will be on the circuit on both Saturday and Sunday. The sessions are open to the public.
** ALMS DRIVERS IN WEST PALM BEACH -- Drivers Shane Lewis and Gunnar Jeannette will meet fans and sign autographs this Friday night (Feb. 16) as part of the "Wild For the World of Racing" celebration in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 500 block of Clematis Street in West Palm Beach will host the celebration from 7-11 p.m. Friday. Several racing machines, current cars as well as historic racers, will be on display. The celebration will be geared toward Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, which will host the Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring, Presented by Dodge, on Mar. 17. Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) will also race at Sebring.
** SALEEN TEAM SHAKING DOWN CARS -- The Saleen-Allen Speedlab team, which will be competing for the GTS class championship this year in the American Le Mans Series, is conducting a week-long private test at California's Willow Springs Raceway in preparation for the 2001 season. The team is testing its new Saleen S7R race cars, which will battle the factory-backed Chevrolet Corvette team in the GTS class. The new car made an impressive debut in last October's ALMS race at Laguna Seca Raceway, but did not compete in the final two events of the season. The team opted to continue private testing rather than actual racing of the car. While the team has not announced how its four drivers will be combined for races, it is expected that longtime teammates Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnson will work together, and American Tommy Kendall will be paired with England's Olivier Gavin.
** NEW ENTRACE GATE FOR FANS AT SEARS POINT -- Sears Point Raceway's comprehensive modernization plan reached another milestone last week as construction crews put the finishing touches on a road that will serve as the new main entrance into the Sonoma, Calif., facility beginning with the 2001 racing season. The new Gate 7 will be 80 feet wide and will feature six lanes to accomodate vehicles, as well as nearly one-half mile of staging area. The staging space will enable raceway officials to move vehicles off the highway and onto Sears Point property, reducing traffic congestion on the highway during busy event weekends. "Relieving race-day traffic congestion is one of our fundamental goals," said Steve Page, Sears Point Raceway President and General Manager. "The addition of this new entrance will be a tremendous boon both to Sears Point fans and to folks who are simply traveling through the area on major event days." The new entry will replace Gate 1 as the main entrance for fans from Highway 121. Gate 1 will still be used, but only for credentialed personnel, further reducing congestion. In past years, Gate 1 was a point of entry for everyone entering the facility from Highway 121. Sears Point Raceway will host an event for the American Le Mans Series on July 22.
** ALLERTON JOINS ELMS STAFF -- Martin Allerton has been named Press and Promotions Coordinator for the European Le Mans Series, ELMS Executive Director John Macdonald has announced. Allerton has worked across a broad base of business sectors. In motorsports, he coordinated Gulf Oil's return to the track in the mid-1990's and was responsible for many aspects of the successful Gulf McLaren sponsorship, including press and public relations. In Rallying, he has undertaken promotional roles for a variety of teams and manufacturers, and provided promotional support to the Stephane Ratel Organization in 1998.
** QUICK NOTES -- One of the first entries received for the Mar. 17 Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring, Presented by Dodge, was from Pescarolo Sport for the Courage/Peugeot C60 Prototype. Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Jean-Christophe Boullion will be co-drivers of the car at Sebring .... Champion Racing will hold a media reception at its Pompano Beach, Fla., shop on Feb. 23 to unveil its new Audi R8 Prototype for the 2001 ALMS season .... The Oxygen Network aired a documentary last week on Belinda Endress, Divina Galica and Cindi Lux and their all-female driving team in the 2000 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Endress will compete in the Panoz Racing Series event at Road Atlanta Feb. 24-25 .... Canadian Ron Fellows, who will be driving a Corvette in the GTS class of the ALMS this season, was a special guest last week at an Easter Seals benefit in Toronto. The benefit featured sports celebrities. Fellows also appeared this week at the Toronto Auto Show .... The new Callaway C12 that will race in the GT class of the ALMS this season will test this weekend at Road Atlanta ....