INDIANAPOLIS (June 1, 2001) -- The American Le Mans Series is in negotiation with Washington, D.C., city officials to hold a sports car endurance race on a temporary racing circuit in the capital city of the United States. American Le Mans...
INDIANAPOLIS (June 1, 2001) -- The American Le Mans Series is in negotiation with Washington, D.C., city officials to hold a sports car endurance race on a temporary racing circuit in the capital city of the United States.
American Le Mans Series officials are working with National Grand Prix Holdings, LLC, which started on the project in 1999 and has had a Memorandum of Understanding from the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission to pursue a racing event for the city since June of 2000.
"We have a very strong interest in holding a race in Washington," said Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series. "The strong international flavor of our series would be a very good fit in the nation's capital, and our racing teams have already demonstrated their outstanding abilities on any kind of racing circuit. We feel that this would be a sporting event for everyone in the Washington area to enjoy."
Panoz founded the American Le Mans Series in 1999 after forging a history-making agreement with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizer of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. The series was designed to bring smaller versions of the world's most famous endurance race to venues in North America, as well as other parts of the world, in a series of events that would determine an overall champion.
The series includes the famous 12 Hours of Sebring, which this past March attracted a weekend crowd of 168,000, the largest attendance ever for a sports car race in America and the second-largest in the world behind Le Mans. In addition to North America, the series has staged events in England, Germany and Australia.
The proposed Washington event would be part of a festival, which would also include a concert and other activities.
Last year, the American Le Mans Series was part of a similar event in Adelaide, Australia, on New Year's Eve. The race was held on a temporary circuit, followed by concerts and New Year's fireworks. The event attracted more than 140,000 spectators.
"The successful race in Adelaide last year is a model for the event in Washington," said Panoz.
The fast rise of the American Le Mans Series has attracted participation from auto manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Dodge, Panoz and Porsche. All events held since the formation of the series have been televised, with many shown in the U.S. by NBC Sports. The NBC telecasts have generated ratings and audiences that have equaled, and sometimes beaten, those of some more-established American racing series.