Road America: Round six preview

Stars and Cars of Le Mans Headed To Road America ELKHART LAKE, WI - The stars and cars of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans will be at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for the Aug. 20-22 Road America 500 presented by the Chicago Tribune,...

Stars and Cars of Le Mans Headed To Road America

ELKHART LAKE, WI - The stars and cars of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans will be at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for the Aug. 20-22 Road America 500 presented by the Chicago Tribune, featuring the American Le Mans Series.

The race will be Round Six of the nine-event schedule for the American Le Mans Series in 2004 and will mark the third appearance of the ALMS at historic Road America. Many of the same drivers, cars and race teams that compete in the world's most famous endurance race in France, including three teams that scored class wins in this year's event, will compete in the Road America 500.

Historic Road America, the longest track on the ALMS schedule at 4.048 miles, became part of the series for the first time in 2002 and quickly became a favorite stop on the schedule for nearly all ALMS drivers. The ultra-fast and long circuit contains many different types of turns, presenting both speed and the challenge that professional road racing drivers enjoy.

Located halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay, and only a few hours from Chicago, Road America has a tremendous drawing area of fans, including parts of Canada. Road racing began in the beautiful Elkhart Lake area many years ago and led to the building of Road America.

The Road America 500 has a history dating back to 1957 when legendary American driver Phil Hill won the inaugural event in a Ferrari 315-S. The race ran as an SCCA National event through 1962, and SCCA USRRC through 1968. In 1979, the race was revived as an IMSA event and ran through 1987 as a 500-mile race. Winners during that span included IMSA stars of the era such as David Hobbs, Derek Bell, Al Holbert, Price Cobb and guest drivers from open-wheel racing Bobby Rahal and Al Unser, Jr. The race was run as a 500K event in 1988 and 1989, then was scheduled as two 250K heats in 1990. Geoff Brabham won in all three years in Nissan Prototypes.

Four classes of American Le Mans Series sports cars will compete in a timed event of two hours and 45 minutes on the Road America circuit. Included are two classes of the sleek and exotic Prototypes, which are open-cockpit, high-horsepower machines capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph on parts of Road America. 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, Saleens and Dodge Vipers (GTS) and Porsche 911s and a Panoz Esperante (GT).

Three teams that scored class wins in the 2004 version of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be at Road America, including Corvette Racing, winner of the GTS class, with drivers Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta (teammates to Fellows and O'Connell), Intersport Racing, winner of the LMP2 class for smaller Prototypes, with driver Clint Field in a Lola-Judd and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, winner of the GT class in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The Petersen team also won the GT class in last year's Road America event.

The Road America 500 will get the green flag at 1 p.m. (CDT) on Sunday, August 22. Practice and qualifying for ALMS cars will be held on Saturday, August 21, along with an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers, and a Fan Forum.

The racing weekend at Road America will also feature races for the popular and competitive SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring cars, the Star Mazda Series, Formula Ford Zetec Championship and Mid-Am stock cars and trucks. In addition, Tonka Super Trucks will run exhibition laps.

Ticket information for the Road America 500 is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling 1-800-365-RACE. The race will be televised live by the SPEED Channel in North America and by MotorsTV in Europe, while the American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage of the race and of qualifying online at www.americanlemans.com.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Phil Hill , Oliver Gavin , David Hobbs , Al Holbert , Derek Bell , Price Cobb , Clint Field , Olivier Beretta , Geoff Brabham , Al Unser
Teams Corvette Racing , HART