Series, Salvation Army announce kids program

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES LAUNCHES NATIONAL GRID KIDS PROGRAM WITH SALVATION ARMY San Francisco - The American Le Mans Series in conjunction with The Salvation Army today launched a national program to support youth who participate in activities...

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES LAUNCHES NATIONAL GRID KIDS PROGRAM WITH SALVATION ARMY

San Francisco - The American Le Mans Series in conjunction with The Salvation Army today launched a national program to support youth who participate in activities at The Salvation Army centers. The program, called Grid Kids, was launched with an after-school, in-the-park party at San Francisco's famous Crissy Field among a bevy of American Le Mans Series drivers, race cars, Grid Kids, balloons, rock n' roll music, dignitaries and yes, even the Michelin Man - all framed in the spectacular backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Youth from area Salvation Army centers attended and were given T-shirts adorned with the new national Grid Kids logo, which was unveiled at the event. American Le Mans Series drivers interacted with the youth, provided autographs and talked about their race cars. Drivers participating were Jorg Bergmeister of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, Liz Halliday of Intersport Racing, Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell and Bryan Sellers of Panoz Motor Sports, Guy Cosmo of B-K Motorsports, and Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty of Flying Lizard Motorsports.

"We are extremely pleased to take our involvement with The Salvation Army to the next level," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "It is an entity that is renowned around the world as one of the pre-eminent organizations that is constantly reaching out to help and support others. We at the American Le Mans Series recognize our role in doing the same, and through the Grid Kids program, hope to make a difference in young people's lives."

One element of the Grid Kids program involves having youth from Salvation Army centers become special VIP guests of the American Le Mans Series at each track where it races during the course of the year.

"It's obviously a great opportunity for the teams to interact with the youth and what is undeniably our future," said Patrick Long, Bergmeister's teammate with Petersen/White Lightning, which has played host to several Grid Kids groups this year. "It's great to let them get close to the action and experience what we see and take for granted every day. It wasn't long ago that I was the same age as these kids and so excited about meeting race car drivers. So I know how it is and I try to spend extra time with them."

The Grid Kids program has not been the only involvement the American Le Mans Series has had with The Salvation Army, however. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the American Le Mans Series and SPEED Channel created elements in its telecast of the Grand Prix of Mosport to support relief efforts. In addition, many teams and support personnel contributed to a fund matched by ALMS founder Don Panoz and his wife, Nancy. The result was a donation in the amount of $112,550, which was presented to Salvation Army officials at the Grid Kids national launch at Crissy Field.

"We are so grateful for the support of the American Le Mans family," said Major Joe Posillico, The Salvation Army's Golden State Divisional Commander. "All of the funds donated to the Hurricane Fund will go directly to the victims in the Gulf Coast. And the exciting and informative opportunity they provided in Crissy Field for the youth who participate in our after school programs was a once-in-a-lifetime event for some."

The American Le Mans Series, the premier sports car series in North America, concludes its season Saturday, Oct. 15 with the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Three of the four class championships are still up for grabs, creating a dramatic end to a season filled with highlights, including the first victory in 38 years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by an American based team - Champion Racing.

The race is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. PDT with SPEED Channel broadcasting the race from 1 to 5 p.m. EDT Sunday. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. PDT on Friday. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Bill Auberlen , Guy Cosmo , Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Don Panoz , Bryan Sellers , Liz Halliday