Sneak look into 2007 Rolex Series schedule

Perhaps fearing others might steal some of its thunder beforehand, late Monday the Grand American Road Racing Association released a tantalizing tidbit of its 2007 Rolex Series' schedule of events: the series will lay rubber on Montreal's Ile ...

Perhaps fearing others might steal some of its thunder beforehand, late Monday the Grand American Road Racing Association released a tantalizing tidbit of its 2007 Rolex Series' schedule of events: the series will lay rubber on Montreal's Ile Notre-Dame.

Rumored for months, the Rolex Series' release confirmed its Daytona Prototype- and GT-class sportscars will join first-cousin Busch Series' stockcars for Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 races, respectively, on Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve's 2.709-mile, 15-turn road course.

The circuit, located on the same St. Lawrence River Island as the 1967 World's Fair, the course began life in the 1978 season and later got its present name after very talented French-Canadian Gilles Villeneuve lost his life in a May, 1982 Belgian Grand Prix practice accident at Circuit Zolder (aka, Circuit Terlaeman).

Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve has since annually hosted Formula 1's Canadian Grand Prix and also hosts the U.S.-based ChampCar Series.

The reader of this being an exception, others will see the rest of the series' 2007 schedule sometime Tuesday.

You'll see it now.

It just won't be neat and tidy, all in cardinal order. You get to do that part.

As usual, the 15-race 2007 race schedule starts with the Sat-Sun, Jan. 27-28 Rolex 24 at Daytona, between the end of which and the beginning of NASCAR's portion is a huge calendar gap that will neatly accommodate open-wheel's IRL IndyCar Series.

Open-wheel shares a close kinship with sportycar types, so book your rooms now for what will be the IRL's final practice at the facility before it names a 2008 race date for the same period - as old DC boldly predicts (huh, John Griffin?) where others fear to tread. Finally though, the wine and cheese crowd will get a couple of DIS Speedweeks for its own style of refined, high-brow gluttony of things racing.

But, high on expectation, I digress from the subject at hand.

Following the famed 24 hour race (that this year will spend 13-hrs., 17-mins., of those at night) is the Mar. 3 race set for Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez - one of four Rolex Series races tied to NASCAR events.

Other Grand Am/NASCAR-tied races are July 5 in Daytona Beach, associated with the Pepsi 400; the aforementioned Aug. 3 Montreal NBS-related race and the Aug. 10 Watkins Glen short-course sprint race with NNCS and NBS.

In 2007 - gone after teams endured more seasons than many would care to count - travel time from the end-of-June Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course event to the early-July Brumos 250 at Daytona International race separated a least a few die-hard race teams from the wannabes, for sure.

Having expanded travel time from five to 12 days between events, teams will have a veritable vacation with Mid-O scheduled for the June 23-24 weekend.

While race team members in 2007 get some travel-time relief, drivers going from ALMS to the Rolex Series will have to coordinate plane rides for the three events that share the same weekends, if not the same dates -- at least not for the top-billed shows of each series.

The Rolex Series' DP and GT classes on May 20 will again run in the general neighborhood of unexploded Fort Ord ordnance at Laguna Seca (which I'm crazy enough to want to un-earth) while the ALMS is does its thing May 19 at Salt Lake City.

For the July 21-22 weekend, ALMS is at Mid-O and the Rolex Series again sweats its way -- really sweats its way -- through Barber Motorsports Park's incredible humidity (and, being a fifth-generation Florida boy, I know a thing or two about humidity).

The last weekend conflict arises with the Aug. 10 Watkins Glen weekend.

The Rolex Series' Friday race won't much interfere with ALMS' deer-dodging day at Road America -- but complications start to arise for any full-time sportscar racer who desires to prove their road-racing mettle in either Nextel Cup or Busch cars.

As a result, Ron Fellows' kiddies might be finding fewer Christmas presents under the tree next year.

Beyond a demonstration of skill, top-shelf, highly sought drivers like Fellows might have to forgo at least one NASCAR race paycheck at the Glen.

If Skip Barber Racing stock was publicly traded, a purchase of such might be wise 'cause NASCAR team owners will this year likely be sending more drivers to a Skippy school -- or to Elliott Forbes-Robinson.

With the consumer being the big winner, it appears sportscar and open-wheel tag-team events are getting ever more popular in 2007.

The Rolex Series will renew its early-season ties to IRL March 24 Homestead-Miami Speedway but with a slight schedule tweak. Assuming the soon-to-be IRL under-the lights HMS compatibility test comes off without a hitch, the Rolex Series will race Saturday afternoon, followed by the IndyCar Series that night.

It'll make for a barn-burner of a day with both series combining to provide race fans a darn good two-fer show -- kind of like a coming-attractions teaser for the 2008 Weeks of Wine and Cheese at DIS.

The Apr. 28 and 29 weekend at Virginia International Raceway will be the first of three 2007 events wherein the Rolex Series will hold separate DP- and GT-class races. Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio (the separation yielding much needed pit-space relief at both) are the other two separate-race events.

Miller Motorsports Park's Sept 8, 2007 race has had its duration changed from 9-hours to 1,000 kilometers. With extrapolated data derived by employing my second-grade educational skills, the race actually will be shortened by 2 ½-hours.

Using lap information garnished from the winning inaugural race effort of Michael Shank Racing's No. 60 Flight Options Lexus-Riley, drivers Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson covered 1397.715264 kilometers over a 09:01:40.774 time period (I didn't get to rounding up or down until third grade, so, given my use of second-grade skills above, it isn't appropriate to use higher third-grade math principles, herein).

Unless something drastically changes, Miller will be a shorter race in 2007, therefore leaving Messrs. Negri and Patterson as the track's first and, possibly, last nine-hour race winners.

However, with some derived solace, the June 9-10 weekend has been set aside for Watkins Glen International's historical six-hour race.

There's one more race and a couple of other details of the "who, what" kind, but I've got to leave something for the Grand American folks.

Besides, I'm an old guy who's well beyond today's aborted afternoon nap.

-- DC Williams exclusively for motorsports.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Ron Fellows , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Gilles Villeneuve , Skip Barber , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Mark Patterson , Michael Shank
Teams Williams , Michael Shank Racing