Jeannette looks forward to Miami street race

Palm Beach native Jeannette to have first opportunity to race on streets of Miami BRASELTON, Ga. - As a child, he was a very interested spectator at Miami's old street racing events. Now, a few months past his 21st birthday, he finally gets a ...

Palm Beach native Jeannette to have first opportunity to race on streets of Miami

BRASELTON, Ga. - As a child, he was a very interested spectator at Miami's old street racing events. Now, a few months past his 21st birthday, he finally gets a chance to race for himself in a revival of those great events of the past.

Gunnar Jeannette, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., will be driving for one of the world's best sports car racing teams when he competes in the American Le Mans Series portion of the Sept. 26-28 Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com on the Miami Downtown street circuit.

The second annual event brings racing on a temporary street circuit back to Miami, which hosted many such successful events through the 1980s and until 1995 for both sports cars and open-wheel cars. The Grand Prix Americas combines both, with the sports cars of the ALMS sharing a unique "dual headline" event with the Champ Cars of CART. Also part of the weekend will be races for the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour and CART Toyota Atlantics.

Jeannette will be driving an exotic Panoz LMP01 Prototype fielded by JML Team Panoz in the two-hour, 45-minute timed event for the ALMS that will be run at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

"I'm really excited about racing in Miami," said Jeannette, who holds the record as the youngest driver (18) to ever finish the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, a mark he set in 2000. "As a kid I was always at the races with my father, who normally ran sports car teams there. I always had to stand out of the hot pits and watch from the fence.

"Last year, when they brought the racing back to the streets, it was exciting for me to go there with the Panoz team and get to watch," said Jeannette, who was a test driver for the team in 2002. "But for me, going back there this year and driving is even more exciting."

Jeannette will be seeking his first-ever victory in American Le Mans Series competition, trying to improve on his best finish of third, which came earlier this year at Canada's Mosport International Raceway. The Miami event will also be only his second race on a temporary street racing circuit, which requires a much different driving style than a permanent, natural-terrain road racing circuit.

"My first experience on a street circuit was earlier this year at Trois-Rivieres (Quebec)," he said. "It was my first real 'walls everywhere' sort of experience and I liked it a lot more than I thought I was going to. We had a decent result there and hopefully we'll go to Miami and get a good result."

Having spent most of his life in South Florida, Jeannette can certainly recognize the significance of his first career win in the ALMS coming in Miami. "To win at a place that I've been going to since I was a little kid would be really exciting," he said.

Four classes of American Le Mans Series sports cars will compete in the Grand Prix Americas event. Included are two classes of the sleek and exotic Prototypes, which are open-cockpit, high-horsepower machines capable of reaching speeds of nearly 200 mph on some race tracks. Racing on the track at the same time for class wins and the overall win are the GTS and GT classes, production-based cars such as Corvettes, Ferrari 550's and Dodge Vipers (GTS) and Porsche 911s, Ferrari 360s and Panoz Esperantes (GT).

Thirty-six American Le Mans Series cars are expected to compete in the event, which gets the green flag at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Sept. 27. Practice and qualifying for ALMS cars will be held on Friday, Sept. 26, and an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers will be held at 11 a.m. on race day.

The race will be televised live by SPEED Channel. Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.

Ticket information for the event is available online at www.miamirace.com or by calling 1-888-248-7223.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Gunnar Jeannette