Previews future plans to auto manufacturers

Longer Races, New Classes, New Championship Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Monday, April 30, 2001) - Grand American President Roger Edmondson and Special Projects Manager Patrick Murphy completed a series of visits to interested automobile ...

Longer Races, New Classes, New Championship Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Monday, April 30, 2001) - Grand American President Roger Edmondson and Special Projects Manager Patrick Murphy completed a series of visits to interested automobile manufacturers last week that saw the pair offering a preview of Grand-Am's plans for future seasons, starting with 2002.

During last week's trip, the Grand-Am officials visited Audi, Daimler/Chrysler and General Motors. An earlier trip to California had them meeting with Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus, Mazda and Nissan.

"The meetings were very helpful for us," Edmondson commented. "We got the chance to let these companies know what changes we see in our schedule and class line up for next season and beyond. At the same time, we had the opportunity to hear their views on racing-related topics. It went very well."

Edmondson presented a number of topics during the discussions that covered the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series and other new competition formats set to roll out within the next two years.

The Rolex Sports Car Series will see a shift to longer race distances beginning in 2002. "The Rolex Series will still include races ranging in length from a couple of hours up to the big one - the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The difference will be that we are going to encourage our event promoters to consider six-hour or five-hundred mile formats wherever possible," Edmondson added.

The meetings also involved discussions of class formats. The performance of the current SportsRacing Prototype and GTS classes will be brought into closer parity, offering fans wheel-to-wheel excitement between the open-top SRPs and the production-styled GTS cars.

The Grand-Am Cup Street Stock Series will likely see a new class created to bridge the gap between the current Sports Touring and Compact classes. Also, the quicker SGS and GS classes will run in their own separate races at several events next year. The remaining classes will also have a matching three-hour race.

"Splitting the Cup Series into two races will make the racing more exciting to both racers and fans. The faster class cars won't have to dodge the lower performance compacts and sedans all the time and drivers of the smaller cars will no longer have to look over their shoulder every time they go into a turn," Edmondson explained.

It was also noted that the 2002 Rolex Series schedule may expand up to as many as 12 events, with at least one new race anticipated next year in California. The 2002 schedule will also end later with the Grand-Am Finale at Daytona International Speedway moving from its September date this year to November next season. A special 1,000-mile "American Mille Miglia" race will be debuted with Grand-Am Cup cars from the current season and new models from manufacturers facing off in a race to glory.

Finally, the Grand-Am representatives presented descriptions of two new programs that could become reality in 2002 or 2003. A special sprint series for the smaller two-seater roadsters being introduced by many manufacturers is in the works with the expectation that the cars will be kept as close to stock as possible. Another proposed new series would feature tube-framed stock cars from American and international manufacturers competing in a series consisting of both oval and road course races.

More information on Grand-Am is available online at www.grand-am.com.

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Series Grand-Am