VISION FOR THE FUTURE AT ANNUAL STATE OF THE SERIES ADDRESS BRASELTON, GA (October 5) - The American Le Mans Series mapped its vision toward 2010 at today's annual State of the Series address at Road Atlanta in conjunction with the 10th...
VISION FOR THE FUTURE AT ANNUAL STATE OF THE SERIES ADDRESS
BRASELTON, GA (October 5) - The American Le Mans Series mapped its vision toward 2010 at today's annual State of the Series address at Road Atlanta in conjunction with the 10th annual Petit Le Mans by announcing a new three- year television agreement with SPEED, the leader in motorsports television.
In addition, President and CEO Scott Atherton spoke of maintaining the Series' worldwide leadership for alternative fuels within the auto racing industry, introduced new team and auto manufacturer content in the all- important independent team category and unveiled a 12-race schedule similar in scope to the one in 2007 that has lead to an attendance surge of more than 40 percent over 2006.
"Last year we announced a comprehensive initiative centered around the utilization of alternative fuels for racing - and it could not have gone better," said Atherton. "We also presented what we referred to then as the best overall schedule in the history of the Series. Today, we are enjoying the most successful season ever - and announcing similar news and programs that will only build upon the very positive momentum we are experiencing."
Worldwide Leader in Alternative Fuels The American Le Mans Series was the first major racing series in the world to adopt multiple alternative fuel initiatives relevant to the consumer as well as the race teams.
This season, Series' participants raced an E10 ethanol-enriched gasoline blend (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) with the exception of Audi, which continued to develop its turbo diesel-powered race car, which uses a new zero sulfur "clean" diesel. Both fuels are considered "street legal", which means they are virtually the same as consumers would use in their automobiles.
With a push toward the use of new technologies and renewable fuels, the American Le Mans Series intends to develop additional alternative fuels, including the introduction of an E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) ethanol option and a bio diesel product suitable for Audi and perhaps Peugeot, which also competes with a diesel race car and is expected to race in next spring's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. In addition, Atherton revealed that the Series is in discussions with several manufacturers to introduce a hybrid-powered race car.
In keeping with his oft-proclaimed edicts of "the best is yet to come", Atherton indicated that the Series would maintain its global leadership in alternative fuel relevance and green motorsports initiatives by unveiling a major collaboration at the beginning of next year. Atherton stressed that the alliance will be unique and distinctive to the American Le Mans Series and build upon the Series' status as the only form of motorsports with the direct transfer of technology from the race cars to the production vehicles of tomorrow.
"We have been working very closely with several governmental and private organizations to confirm the American Le Mans Series' role in the future of leading-edge technologies for alternative fuels and green motorsports initiatives in general," said Atherton. "At a time when there is an urgent worldwide demand for innovation and new technologies for automobiles, the American Le Mans Series, working in conjunction with our many participating manufacturers, is uniquely positioned to be part of the solution. In brief, the factory teams competing in the Series are developing technologies on the race track today that will soon be in the cars that we all drive on the street. It's a very exciting time, and as a racing series, we couldn't be in a stronger leadership position."
New Team/Manufacturers for the 2008 Grid Three new independent customer teams representing three different auto manufacturers will race in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class next season. Bill Riley and Lou Gigliotti will introduce two Corvette C6's to next season's GT2 grid. The production-based Corvette will feature the standard Corvette C.6 engine which produces approximately 430 horsepower versus the 500-plus horsepower of its GT1 class Z06 engine counterpart. Joel Feinberg of Primetime Race Group will run a Dodge Viper factory- supported customer team with the intent of running multiple teams beginning at Sebring in 2008. The third new team is a Ford GT operated by Kevin Doran who intends to run the endurance races and provide cars to other top flight independent programs.
Homologation to ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) specifications will occur immediately following the season in order that all cars will be available to participate in the American Le Mans Series Winter Test, January 28-30 at Sebring International Raceway. The new teams bring three U.S.-based auto manufactures to the grid, reinforcing the American Le Mans Series position as the world's leader in auto manufacturer participation. It is Ford's first production car foray into the American Le Mans Series.
At Petit Le Mans, eight (8) different auto and a dozen engine manufacturers will compete head-to-head. In its nine-year history, 16 different chassis and 14 different engine marquees have won at least one Series race.
"The American Le Mans Series, like Le Mans," said Atherton, "has always embraced both the factory-backed teams and the top level private/independent race teams. Lately, much of the news has been focused on new manufacturers and factory teams, but today we confirmed three new independent teams - all bringing exciting new programs into the Series. Private, non-factory affiliated teams have always been the core of the Series, and today, we add three new member with top-flight programs. I can't wait to see the Ford GT, Viper and C6 Corvette mix it up with the Ferraris, Porsches and Panoz. It's going to be great!"
12-Race Schedule for 2008 Features Three-Year SPEED Agreement A new three-year agreement with SPEED highlighted the announcement of the American Le Mans Series' 12-race schedule for 2008. The USA's leading motorsports network that now boasts nearly 70 million households plus five million in Canada, will serve as the Series' core network for telecasts, ancillary programming and exciting new ventures in e-programming. SPEED's marquee programming properties include both endurance classics - the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 15) and Petit Le Mans (October 4).
Next year's season begins with the tradition-rich 56th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 15). April sees a return to three straight street courses at St. Petersburg (April 5), Long Beach (April 19) and Houston (April 26). The American Le Mans Series returns for its third consecutive season to Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City (May 18) before select teams head to France in June for the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 14-15).
The Series kicks off the official second half of its season July 12 at Lime Rock Park then moves a week later, July 19, to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. August sees three races. One of the world's classic road courses, Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI hosts Round Eight of the American Le Mans Series on August 9 before drivers head to the only stop outside U.S. borders, Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville (near Toronto), Canada on August 24. A week later sees the Labor Day weekend return to Detroit for the second annual Detroit Sports Car Challenge on Belle Isle on August 30.
The season concludes in grand fashion with the hallmark 11th annual Petit Le Mans October 4 at Road Atlanta, followed by the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 18.
The American Le Mans Series once again will participate in doubleheader weekends with the Champ Car World Series at Long Beach, Houston and Road America and with the Indy Racing League at St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio and Detroit.
"When we announced last year's schedule, I said that if we could come back and duplicate it in '08, we would be overjoyed," said Atherton. "Thankfully, that statement was an example of: Be careful what you wish for - you might just get it! Again, I believe we have the strongest overall schedule in American racing. We touch nearly all the important business markets and race at the best road courses and street circuits in North America. The fact that we have announced virtually the same schedule this year is the hallmark of a maturing, stable, successful series. We could not be more pleased."