Edmondson responds to fans' questions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 5, 2003) -- Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson accepted questions from race fans last week, and this week he responds to inquiries about the 2004 schedule, rotary engines, Daytona ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 5, 2003) -- Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson accepted questions from race fans last week, and this week he responds to inquiries about the 2004 schedule, rotary engines, Daytona Prototype engines and manufacturers and much more.

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How can you make the Cup series more appealing to potential sponsors and are you working to have something before next season?

If there is anything harder to sell to a sponsor than a sports car series, it is a sport car series that runs primarily in a support role. This is particularly unfortunate, when in this case, the racing is excellent and the overall quality of the program is so high. It is my belief that the restructuring currently taking place in both the Rolex and Cup series will lead us to new sponsor opportunities. We are indeed working on something for next season, but I cannot represent to you a high likelihood of success.

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I'm a big fan of the GTS class. Do you have any ideas of making it a stronger class? Even with a small field they put on a show.

We recently announced that GTS will be merged into GT in 2004, as our transition to a new GT formula continues. We hope to have all in place for the 2005 season.

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When will the 2004 Rolex Series schedule be released?

The schedule will be released when we have signed contracts with all of our promoters. We anticipate racing at all of the same facilities in '04 as we did this year. Some of the dates will be adjusted to better suit the travel needs of the teams or the overall seasonal schedule of the tracks.

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Are there plans for additional Rolex Series races next season?

At this time we are not actively attempting to expand the schedule. We are asking for major equipment and infrastructure investment in both our Daytona Prototype and GT categories and feel that the current number (12) of events is sufficient. This is not to say that we couldn't be tempted to the right place under the right circumstances.

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Could we see a race held in western Canada? (Racecity Speedway, Calgary Alberta)

Yes, if the track is up to our standards and a promoter is prepared to take the financial leap required to organize, conduct, and promote a race.

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Will new Daytona Prototype constructors be considered in 2004?

We will consider new constructors for addition to the program with their 2005 models. We are going to ensure that those who stepped forward and supported our concepts and ideas in the beginning reap the benefits of their investment.

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Will SCCA World Challenge GT cars be welcomed into the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona?

All cars that meet the DP, SGS, or GT rules will be welcome. We will be releasing the SGS rules next week and the GT rules later this month.

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How can I e-mail the president of Grand American?

redmondson@grandamerican.com

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Will the open-cockpit cars be back in 2004?

Our 2004 rules do not include any provisions for open-cockpit cars, other than the roadsters eligible for Grand-Am Cup competition.

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Will Grand American increase the engine limit for unibodied production cars to 7-liters or 427cid, allow factory Chevrolet Corvette team to compete at the Rolex 24?

No. The engine specifications are set to provide for close competition among several manufacturers and engine types.

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Do you think new Daytona Prototypes will be eligible in IMSA ALMS running under GT Prototype specs?

I have no reason to believe that will take place.

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Do you know what changes will be made, if any, to ensure that the Porsche flat-6 engine remains competitive in the DP class for 2004?

We are constantly monitoring the performance of the various engines being used in the Daytona Prototypes. Since the Porsche is the baseline, if changes need to be made, one would expect them to affect the performance of any other engine deemed to be "outside" the desired performance level.

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Will the V-8 Porsche engine that appears in the Cayenne have a future in the DP class?

Someone would need to submit that engine for testing and the setting of specifications. If accepted, it would run to specifications that made it a viable alternative to the others in the class. It would not become a new benchmark.

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Why did you decide to go with the Daytona Prototypes concept instead of staying with what you had with the SRP class?

We felt it was time to put the genie back in the box. For this sport to grow it must live within its means. Part of that process is ensuring that the teams can actually afford to race their cars. We couldn't help but notice that our top four SRP car owners had gone through 16 cars in two seasons, yet none of their used cars were showing up at the events because operating costs were prohibitive.

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What can Grand American do to get the car counts up?

Be patient and give our new Prototype and GT structure time to kick in. Stable rules that make sense will lead to solid and predictable field sizes without predictable race results.

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So when is Grand American going to open up the rules a bit and let some performance into the cars? It's pretty sad that my mildly modified Mustang GT potentially has more power than a DP.

We will change the performance of the cars when it is clear that the competition is lacking at our current level. At the moment, such is not the case.

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What would be involved in getting a Mazda rotary engine approved for the DPs? Were rotary engines intentionally prohibited during rule making or is it a case where it has never been formally proposed?

We intentionally prescribed normally aspirated reciprocating engines because they are available from virtually every manufacturer and are an engine type familiar to the public. Balancing them for close racing is challenging enough for right now, thank you. I don't know that we would gain much by introducing a whole new element, other than complication and a risk of upsetting the balance we have achieved.

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In the 1970s the Watkins Glen six-hour race was run on Saturday. How do you feel about returning to that format, joining-up with another series, such as Trans-Am or even CART, and having them race on Sunday? Thus giving the fans a double-header weekend?

The issue of running on Saturday, as well as other sanctioning bodies, is entirely a promoter question. As for my feelings about teaming up with others, our history should make it clear that we can make that work. We have run with NASCAR, CART and IRL when appropriate opportunities have been presented and will do the same in the future.

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Is there a possibility that future Rolex 24 races could have participation of some IMSA (ALMS) cars that fit the specs for Grand American? It would also be great to see DP cars at Mosport! Not a chance?

Any car that fits the Grand American specs is a Grand American car once it is entered in one of our races. If the promoter at Mosport is interested in a Rolex Series race, and if his desired date merged well with our schedule, there is always a chance. At this time there are no discussions taking place, so don't read anything into this answer that is not there.

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Are you looking at adding more permanent, natural terrain road courses and will you drop some of the "rovals?"

Currently, 50 percent of our races are at natural terrain road course and 50 percent at stadium road courses. 100 percent are at permanent facilities with real promoters. The standards we use to schedule events are not heavily weighted towards either natural or stadium courses. We are more concerned with promoter capabilities and spectator/participant facilities.

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Many, myself included, see the Rolex 24 and the Six Hours of The Glen as having fallen from grace. Do you see a feasible way to alleviate our concerns? I hope the DPs pick up some speed from where they are now.

Our primary product is competition. If it continues to improve these other issues will take care of themselves. If more speed would make better racing, we would take the necessary steps to produce it. Right now, we don't see the need.

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Thus far, what seems to be the point that most new DP teams are bringing up when they sign on board with a new DP? Is it the stable rules? Is it the standardized and easily obtainable parts (gearboxes, engines, etc)? Is it the low cost compared to SRP? What feature is attracting new teams to the formula most of the time?

Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes. All of the above.

Thanks to all of you for your questions, comments, words of encouragement, and criticisms. We remain committed to producing the best road racing in North America and will keep putting one foot in front of the other marching towards that goal.

-garra-

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Series Grand-Am