Las Vegas notes

The stars and cars of the American Le Mans Series have descended upon Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend's Grand Prix of Las Vegas, presented by enjoythedrive.com. The racing weekend will mark the final appearance of the ALMS this year in...

The stars and cars of the American Le Mans Series have descended upon Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend's Grand Prix of Las Vegas, presented by enjoythedrive.com. The racing weekend will mark the final appearance of the ALMS this year in North America, and will also be the site of the 2000 season finale for the Women's Global GT Series.

Thursday will be a day of testing for cars of the ALMS, WGGTS and other racing divisions that will be a part of the weekend at LVMS. Friday will see official practice as well as qualifying sessions for both series. Final qualifying for both series will be held Saturday, along with an autograph session by drivers.

On Sunday, the WGGTS will run a 45-minute race sponsored by the Race Rock Supercharged Restaurant at 8:50 a.m. The two-hour, 45-minute ALMS event starts at 12:30 p.m.

The ALMS event will be televised live by Speedvision and Eurosport, and the ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

Ticket information is available from Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (702) 644-4443, or online at www.lvms.com.

** Sonja Bayer of Germany carries a 16-point lead over Divina Galica of Sebring, Fla., into Sunday's season finale for the Women's Global GT Series. Bayer, who has won three of the five races held this season, including the last two, has 107 points to 91 for Galica. Bayer can clinch the title by finishing fourth or better, no matter where Galica finishes.

Bayer and Galica are the only two drivers in mathematical contention for the title, though it is possible for Galica to drop below second place. Milka Duno is third with 79 points, followed by Belinda Endress with 75 and Cindi Lux with 70.

Race Rock Supercharged Restaurant, located in the downtown area of Las Vegas, is sponsoring the WGGTS race at LVMS and will host an autograph party for WGGTS drivers from 5-9 p.m. Thursday.

The series will hold its awards banquet on Sunday night at Race Rock.

** Olive Garden/Team Rafanelli driver Mimmo Schiattarella brightened the lives of some at-risk fourth and fifth-grade students Tuesday by serving meals donated by Olive Garden at Lewis E. Rowe Elementary School in Las Vegas.

Prior to the lunch, Schiattarella and Olive Garden officials donated a truckload of food to the Clark County Food Bank in a ceremony held at the school. The donation was part of Olive Garden's national Drive Against Hunger campaign.

The Lola B2K Prototype that Schiattarella will co-drive with Didier des Radigues in Sunday's Grand Prix of Las Vegas was also on display at the school.

** The 2.25-mile road racing circuit at Las Vegas Motor Speedway presents a different kind of challenge to tire manufacturers than do the other oval-infield circuits on the American Le Mans Series schedule.

Rather than racing on the high-banked turns of the oval as the cars do at Texas and Lowe's Motor Speedway, the ALMS cars run on the bottom, flat portion of the turns at Las Vegas, in addition to the infield road course.

"The track at Las Vegas is different," said Jerry Rinaldo, Michelin Racing Manager. "There is less load on the right-side tires because the cars never really go onto the high banks. The result is that at Las Vegas we use tires that do not have as stiff of a sidewall as the ones used at Charlotte and Texas. The tires will be similar to the ones we use at natural terrain road courses.

"The Las Vegas track is non-abrasive," he said. "So teams that are able to develop a good mechanical balance will probably be able to double-stint their tires and gain some advantage."

Michelin has already secured the Tire Manufacturers Championship for all three classes in the ALMS.

QUICK NOTES: Approximately 150 auto mechanics students from the Clark County Public School system around Las Vegas will visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday to get a first-hand look at high-tech sports cars that will be competing in Sunday's Grand Prix of Las Vegas .... Race fans in the Las Vegas area can see some cars from the ALMS at the Galleria Mall in Henderson, Nev., starting Thursday .... Drivers from the Women's Global GT Series will hold an autograph session from 4:30-6 p.m. Friday at Harrah's Casino & Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip .... Some members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, based at nearby Nellis Air Force Base, will visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the race weekend ... WGGTS driver Audrey Zavodsky is featured in Wednesday's edition of USA Today .... A film crew from the TNN television program "Popular Hot Rodding Magazine" will spend Thursday at LVMS with the Corvette C5-R team from the ALMS, working on a feature that will air sometime over the holidays ....

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Series ALMS , IMSA Others
Drivers Milka Duno , Mimmo Schiattarella , Belinda Endress , Audrey Zavodsky , Cindi Lux , Divina Galica