WEC and TUDOR Championship's Lone Star Le Mans, start to finish, will be a long day for sports car racing fans.
It will be a long day for sports car racing fans on September 19, when the FIA World Endurance Championship makes its only stop in the U.S., joining the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The schedule has the TUDOR Championship race taking the green flag at 11:35 a.m., then the WEC takes over at 5 p.m., with the six-hour race concluding at 11 p.m. The weather in Texas can be unpredictable in September, as Lone Star Le Mans organizers saw last year, when storms drenched the track, the racers and the fans several times.
The current entry list for the WEC race shows nine entries for LMP1, eight for LMP2, seven for GTE Pro, and seven for GTE Am.
For American fans, there are several entries that have special significance: In LMP2, the Extreme Speed cars are Florida-based, and drivers Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier-Hanson in the No. 30 Honda-powered Ligier, and teammates Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty are well-known to U.S. sports car fans. Dalziel has been racing in the Pirelli World Challenge, and is fourth in the GT standings.
In GTE Pro, Patrick Pilet is listed as a driver for the No. 92 Porsche Team Matheny car. Pilet is the point leader in the TUDOR Championship GT Le Mans class, where he drives a Porsche for the company’s North American team.
And in GTE Am, actor Patrick Dempsey will make a now-rare U.S. appearance driving the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, with co-driver Patrick Long, until this year a fixture in U.S. Porsche sports car racing.
Of course, of interest to any sports car fan regardless of location is the powerful LMP1 lineup. Toyota, Porsche and Audi all are bring two cars each, with Rebellion Racing and Team Bykolles bringing one car apiece.
There are no U.S. drivers in LMP1 or GTE Pro, but hopefully the presence of some of the top drivers in the world, such as Porsche’s Timo Bernard, Mark Webber, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani; Audi’s Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer, Lucas Di Grassi and Loic Duval; Toyota’s Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, Alexander Wurz and Mike Conway; and Rebellion’s Nicholas Prost and Nick Heidfeld will help fill the stands.
As for the TUDOR Championship, all for classes will be in action, though sanctioning body IMSA has yet to release the formal entry list. There were 33 entries at the last race that hosted all four classes, at Road America in Wisconsin, and we expect at least that many entries for the Lone Star Le Mans TUDOR Championship race, which is the next to last of the season, with the finale set for October 3 for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Also in action as support series: The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series, which has often been the best race of the weekend.