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JHS18

Sports Car Racing Thread

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Some things to consider:

ALMS is apparently considering GT3-spec for 2013. Grand-Am's GT's are a very bizarre form of GT3. There's some talk that they want to convince the GTE teams to go to WEC now...hmm...

If there is no longer LMP racing in the U.S., a lot of the suppliers of LMP1 and LMP2 cars will lose customers, making factory teams in WEC's LMP1 even more critical, as you'd lose two privateer LMP1 teams (Pickett and Dyson). LMP2 is healthy enough in Europe that it's not a huge loss if we see our one Morgan and two HPDs vanish (I'm assuming Dempsey will join the WEC with Mazda anyway). Still, I know Bailey was banking on a North American entrant, Lotus/Kodewa were shopping the T128 LMP2 here, and Oreca wanted to campaign a car at Petit to attract U.S. customers. So, there's that.

These years of ALMS racing from 2007 on have been some of the most fun I've had in motorsports. It's been a good run and I really hope that 2013 isn't a lame-duck season. I worry that if certain classes are obsolete for 2014, teams won't even bother and will get a head start on their next ventures in Grand-Am, WEC, or wherever. ALMS and the fans deserve a proper send-off, sort of like Champ Car got at Long Beach in 2008. I really hate to see more of my weekends clear up.

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While the Baltimore race goes on (I can't see it until tomorrow), it sounds like the ALMS and the ACO have been having some major falling outs over the last few years, and, combined with Panoz' waning interest, and the poor financial state of the series, and the lack of interest from competitors, they decided to just sell it to NASCAR.

Doesn't surprise me. I'm glad there's a WEC and I really do wish the WEC well. But I think the creation of the WEC unfortunately sealed the fate of the ALMS. The ACO, the FIA, and IMSA just couldn't all co-exist.

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DSC are suggesting something totally different from everyone else on the Internet:

http://www.dailysportscar.com/viewArticle.cfm?articleUID=8399BB0A-9E98-DCF5-8331F9E648DA6CDA&custUID=858ADB2B-1143-FDC9-357B889EBDC9CBA6&_sessionID=GARQQN5PYN&_subSessionID=QKQSDN3ICN

It doesn't make me feel any better. I'm too much of a cynic to believe this could ever work out. :P

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I haven't seen this much doom and gloom (and to be fair, I'm 100% contributing to it) around Internet racing forums in a really, really long time.

I hate that the announcement is Wednesday...I'll be at uni for 10 hours that day, so I'll have to wait even longer for the fate of this series. It truly sounds like NASCAR purchased either the ALMS or IMSA the sanctioning body.

I said on another forum that I didn't start watching auto racing at age six because I liked drivers. I did it because I loved cars. All cars. I found them fascinating. The ALMS is the last series in the United States that's all about the cars. It's the last series where a race is allowed to be decided by one car being better than another, and you know what, I love that. I enjoy it so much. Look at Road America. Different strengths, different vulnerabilities, it's just brilliant to watch. You'd never get that LMP1 finish if the cars were identical or overly equalized.

I just feel like the U.S. has lost auto racing. Everything is about the driver now. The driver has to be marketable. The driver has to be attractive and friendly and has to love meeting his/her fans and has to have a wonderful female companion and perhaps some wonderful children who have to be future racing drivers themselves. The driver has to be the deciding factor in the races. They say strategy is "boring." They say innovation and differentiation are "unfair." And yet those are the things I love. Those are the things that make racing, well, racing, to me. It's auto racing, not driver racing, and the United States has completely forgotten that as it adopts spec racing or heavy-handed equalization or whatever it is. Why can't we have the DeltaWing as a homologated prototype? If it wins because it's more efficient, isn't that racing? Hell yeah it is! Why can't we have an I4 turbo racing a naturally aspirated V8? If the turbo pulls up the straight at Road America to get a 0.083 second victory, isn't that racing? Hell yeah it is! What's not racing is this quasi-competition of drivers in near-equal cars making a show out of their personalities first, their driving second, and their cars never.

I know I sound like DOF, but damn. Where did it all fall apart? Please, please, please, Europe. Please keep your racing as pure as you can because it's all I'm going to have left.

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Hear hear.

I just watched the ALMS race online - I won't spoil the result for you, but I enjoyed it. There was some good action and I think it was fair to say a surprise result, that you certainly wouldn't see in the WEC that's for sure. It'll be a shame if that disappears.

I agree with you on the car thing though. A while ago I wrote an entry called "Does restriction kill innovation?" where I basically said that purists may find watching an innovative car win a race exciting or interesting, yet championships are increasingly focusing on the attention of casual fans, and therefore have to say how great it is, how close it is etc, and from that making it so that all the cars have identical performance and stopping people from dominating.

The complaint F1 had a while ago was that a lot of people felt the cars looked the same, and that wasn't appealing to fans. That's not the case with sports car racing, because even if you know nothing about racing, you'll be able to tell prototypes and GTs apart. Even in GT a Corvette looks different to a Porsche or a Viper or a BMW or even a Ferrari. That type of thing makes people much more likely to support a marque or a brand, or even a car, as you say, over just the focus on drivers like is the case in F1.

I originally thought this merge was for next year, but I've now read it is for 2014. That makes me think that the days of prototype racing in America in this form are numbered. I can't see how, as you've said again, NASCAR/Grand Am/whoever will be interested in running cars for ACO WEC racing. Maybe, who knows, Daytona Prototypes have a rebirth, rules are opened up a bit and things will remain similar to how they are now in ALMS, but it is hard to say.

Nevertheless, I don't think you should totally give up hope just yet, there's a long way to go and a lot of deals to be thrashed out to really figure all this out. It may well be a disaster, but on the other hand, it may work. It is funny you say about negative comments you've read, I've actually been surprised by the number of positive comments I've read. The guys at Radio Le Mans who do the commentary for pretty much every form of sports car racing around, who I follow on Twitter - seemed cautiously positive.

I'd recommend listening to Midweek Motorsport on Wednesday at 8pm UK time (whatever that is for you) if you can. Seeing as sports car racing is their primary focus, I suspect they'll go over this in quite some detail.

Edited by JHS18

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Yeah, it sadly airs at 3 PM here...I'll be in an accounting lecture. :P

I do wonder how much detail we'll get at the announcement on Wednesday. I think it's possible they won't even outline class structure for 2014 and will just release a generic thing about "one series" and "unification" and "going forward." That will only frustrate me more because it's not good to be so worried about a damn racing series. :lol:

I will make one deal, and you all have to hold me to my word, please:

Once the class structure is announced, if I don't like it, I'll let it go and say it no more than once. Please hold me accountable to that. I do not want to turn into some whiny kid who didn't get his way and spends the rest of his life wishing for a dead series. :D

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I'll make sure I remember to tune in and report back with anything important/interesting they bring up then.

Hahaha, alright. I do find it odd that when there does generally seem to be a demand for sports car/GT racing in terms of manufacturer interest, there seemes to be very few championships that are actually working and being a success.

I mean, in the immortal words of Jeremy Clarkson: how hard can it be? :P

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Thanks, I'd appreciate that.

The thing that gets me most is how there were zero rumors indicating this was even a possibility. I mean, I think we all knew ALMS was in bad health and all, but they did a good job keeping this deal secret.

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Mike Fuller says:

The France family (NASCAR) has purchased Don Panoz' assets (including the ALMS, Sebring, Road Atlanta, hotels, etc).

The American Le Mans Series is dead.

The Le Mans name will be dropped from the new series.

The new series will not use ACO regulations.

And the new board of directors will include Don Panoz and Scott Atherton.

It's been fun. Can't wait to enjoy Baltimore this afternoon for all it's worth.

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One last tidbit about what Mike Fuller (Mulsanne Mike, by the way, of mulsannescorner.com if that's a more familiar name to anyone)...it seemed like it may not necessarily be the Daytona Prototype in 2014. It definitely won't be an ACO prototype (i.e. an LMP), but it didn't close the door on it being something entirely new. I assume it'd still be more in-line with the DP philosophy and quite frankly, I'm not sure why they would bother on the basis that the manufacturers are already committed to LMPs, and the Grand-Am teams need subsidies to race. So that's a question to be answered.

Another question is tire competition, which is huge in ALMS GT, the only ALMS class that could (not necessarily will) be included. Team Falken Tire exist solely to develop Falken tires. Grand-Am does not allow tire competition, which would drive a lot of teams away given their strong ties to tire suppliers, whether being owned by one like Falken, or being closely linked to one like Corvette/Michelin or AJR Lotus/Yokohoma.

You'd also expect teams like Corvette and Viper to do the WEC now, considering there will be no ACO ties, and therefore no Le Mans invites. Plus, Corvette have the Corvette DP and the Corvette in ALMS GT, so it becomes really redundant to campaign a Corvette in too many classes (not that that will stop Porsche with their LMP1, LMGTE-Pro, and LMGTE-Am cars in WEC). I'd include Dempsey Racing there, too, as a WEC team, considering they're the factory effort for Mazda's Skyactiv-D LMP2 engine.

There are just so many questions now and I'm not a big fan of the uncertainty, personally. I just want to know it all right now. :P

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Thanks to James for being courteous and not spoiling the race. I appreciate it a lot. :thbup:

Kind of a snoozer from the highlights package we got. Very bizarre result, but the only interesting part was Heinemeier-Hansson on Dyson, which was then penalized. :P

I have to imagine that at Petit Le Mans, that HPD ARX-03a Honda of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is going to run into some kind of issue. I wouldn't count out another P2 win overall in that one.

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Don't worry - I figured that I probably came close to spoiling the photo finish for you at Road America last month after I remember you could only watch it the next day! tongue.png

It was interesting seeing an LMP2 car win for me because as I said in my original post, that's certainly not something you're ever likely to see in WEC due to the way the regulations are at the moment. So I found it fun, and it was interesting to see sports cars on a street circuit - again, something you won't see in WEC.

Reminds me of something I had going through my head last night. Putting the doom of the Grand Am/ALMS merge to one side for a moment, if you were in charge of sports car racing, what would be your dream calendar? Any tracks are allowed.

Here's what I came up with.

24 hours of Daytona

Sebring

1000km of Spa

1000km of Brno

24 hours of Le Mans

1000km of Silverstone

Road America (2h45m)

Laguna Seca/Watkins Glen (2h45m, possibly calendar rotation)

1000km of Suzuka

1000km of Nurburgring

12 hours of Bathurst

1000km of Potrero de los Funes

Petit Le Mans

Some of those are never, ever going to happen (Nurburgring and Bathurst particularly) but it is nice to imagine, isn't it? tongue.png

Edited by JHS18

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Watkins Glen has a history as endurance race. It's been a six hour race since 1968 (and a race since 1948). From 1968-1981, it was a World Sportscar Championship event. In 1984, they ran it as an IMSA GTP race, before shortening it until 1996 and 1997, when IMSA GTP made it six hours again. Then the USRRC ran it as a six hour in 1998, before FIA GT shortened it in 1999. From 2000-2012, Grand-Am's run it as a six hour (and a separate one as a sprint on the short course during NASCAR weekend). I'd probably keep it as a six, personally.

Anyway, to ease my troubled mind, I came up with two calendars. One of North American venues, one for a world championship. All FIA Grade I, Grade IT, or Grade II circuits to be realistic.

NA:

1. 24 Hours of Daytona

2. 12 Hours of Sebring

3. Grand Prix of Alabama (Birmingham, the only FIA Grade IT track in the U.S.)

4. 6 Hours of Laguna Seca

(Le Mans break)

5. 6 Hours of Watkins Glen

6. Grand Prix of Mosport

7. Québec Grand Prix (Mont-Tremblant)

8. Cleveland Sports Car Challenge (Burke Lakefront Airport...Champ Car/CART circuit...talk about wild)

9. Grand Prix of Road America (4 hours as present)

10. Grand Prix of Sonoma

11. 6 Hours of the Americas (COTA)

12. Grand Prix of Virginia (VIR)

13. Northeast Grand Prix (Lime Rock)

14. Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta)

World, which has fewer races due to travel and no lame two-month break after Le Mans...five in Europe, five not in Europe:

1. 500 km of Malaysia

2. 6 Hours of Spa

3. 24 Hours of Le Mans

4. 500 km of Mexico City (Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez)

5. 6 Hours of São Paulo (Interlagos)

6. 500 km of Mid-Ohio (mostly because having Mid-Ohio and Cleveland on the NA calendar would have been senseless, so I had to put it somewhere :P)

7. 6 Hours of Silverstone

8. 500 km of Austria (whatever they call the re-opened A1Ring...Red Bull Ring I think)

9. 6 Hours of Portimão (the Algarve track A1GP used)

10. 6 Hours of Fuji

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Also: it's really unfortunate that I have a monopoly on U.S. racing discussion on this forum. My opinions and perceptions rarely get challenged because most of the time I'm talking to myself. It's only ALMS doom because that's the picture I paint here. For others, this is probably great news. So I should apologize because in this thread and the U.S. racing thread, my opinions run wild and free with no one to check them and it probably does a disservice to anyone reading them as far as making them really, really think the U.S. is a dreadful place for racing. I should be more responsible. North American sports car racing will move on without me, so I may as well move on without it if it comes to that, and becoming sports car's "Crapwagon" isn't a good thing for me to aspire toward. I've gotten the chance to talk to a lot of people who work in the ALMS paddock, management, officiating, people who run teams, drive cars. I hope this provides them some stability, even if it's a series I choose not to follow. They deserve a healthier series, truly, and if a healthy series happens to be one I'm not interested in, well, I can think of worse losses one can suffer than a Saturday afternoon hobby.

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ALMS president and CEO Scott Atherton has called a conference call Tuesday at noon for IMSA, the sanctioning body of the American Le Mans Series. His email ends as follows:

fuPX5.png

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Interesting, but then again he is hardly going to say it's terrible for the sport, is he?

Also the A1 Ring you talk of is called Spielberg now, learnt that when DTM raced there a few months ago. I had no idea either. :P

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It reads like a "good news, you don't have to come to work anymore" message to me. :P

A guy from a current ALMS GT team says that the Panoz has been trying to sell his assets, including the ALMS, for 3-4 years now. He also says his team owner will try to find the budget to go to the World Endurance Championship rather than Grand-Am, and speculated that less than half the current ALMS teams will make the transition.

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WEC São Paulo entry list.

http://www.fiawec.com/wpphpFichiers/1/1/ressources/Pdf/2012/rounds/05_6-hours-of-sao-paulo/FIAWEC2012-6HoursofSoPauloprovisionalentrylistasof010912_points_eligibility.pdf

Don't see anything changed as far as teams and cars go. A few driver adjustments, though. I'll be interested to see if Toyota's two-driver strategy gives them any kind of advantage. I'm not really sure how. I've seen two-driver teams beat three-driver teams, and three-driver teams beat two-driver teams, so I never really figured it out (other than if one driver is a pro-am driver, you always run a third to offset that).

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An Audi three driver car beat a Toyota two driver car that beat a two driver Audi at Silverstone. I'm not sure it really means an awful lot, unless you've got a guy in the team who is clearly off the pace which neither Audi or Toyota do.

Be interesting to see how di Grassi does anyway. Might lead to something more in 2013 if he does well.

Well, if there is anything good to come from it, it'll be nice to see a few more entries in all classes of WEC. I'd personally love to see the Viper racing in WEC or at Le Mans, I've grown to really like them, particularly (unsurprisingly) the yellow-roofed car. :P

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Is the SRT Viper sold outside of North America? I assume with the FIAT connection it is.

If I had to guess by class, and this is pure speculation, my assumption is the WEC would gain:

  • Dempsey Racing from LMP2, due to Mazda and the Skyactiv-D LMP2 program.
  • Level 5 from LMP2, due to them having done it before and being uninterested in Grand-Am.
  • Corvette Racing from GT, due to them launching a new LMGTE for 2014 (the C7.R) to ACO spec.
  • SRT Motorsports from GT, due to it being the works Viper effort and having Le Mans ambitions.

There are other possibilities but those are the most obvious ones. I know a few other teams would if they had the budget, but many don't and probably won't.

Obvious choices to do Grand-Am:

  • Dyson Racing, who have been there before, even recently, and can't afford anything else.
  • Flying Lizard Motorsports, who have experimented in DP and GT at the Rolex and aren't budgeted for WEC, despite doing Le Mans.
  • Paul Miller Racing, who race in the Rolex 24 and aren't budgeted for WEC.
  • Extreme Speed Motorsports, who are already doing Grand-Am's North American Endurance Championship.
  • Any GTC team, as their cars are Grand-Am legal already.

So...it'll be interesting how this shakes out. I hope all my favorites end up in WEC, or the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge expands the GT class to accommodate some ALMS GT teams because that's at least televised here. tongue.png

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I'd assume they are, but like Corvettes, you don't see many on the roads. Doesn't help that you drive on the wrong side of the car as well - not sure if Vipers and Corvettes are even sold on right hand drive. :P

It'd be great to have a bit more diversity in the GT field at least. I'm still not completely sold on GTE-Am given what has happened at Le Mans in the past two years, but I know that's a sore subject with some. It'd be nice to see more than Porsche, Aston and Ferrari in Pro, that's for sure. This year's Porsche hasn't been up to much, so it has been a battle between Aston and Ferrari for most the year. Given the rumours, and potentially combined with this deal, that should hopefully change in the not too distant future.

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Your statement implies there are tons of Corvettes and Vipers on the roads here. :P

I probably see one Viper every five years. Corvette's a little more common. Of course, I live in an area of the U.S. that has very harsh and very long winters, so owning any kind of performance vehicle doesn't make much sense in my region.

Sounds like Prodrive imports Vipers to Europe and modifies them to meet your laws.

I'd be fine with seeing the works GT teams do the WEC, and it'd be good for them. Sadly, the streaming is hit-or-miss for me personally, and I find that the director completely ignores everything that isn't Audi or Toyota when choosing what to show. So it's not totally ideal. I really don't know what I will personally follow once ALMS is done because while I do watch some Bland-Am, I wouldn't watch any if it were the only choice. Does that make sense? No, not at all. I think it's some immature, stupid pride thing about hating that my series lost. :P

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Also: Rebellion are going to enter their third car at Petit Le Mans this year. Petit has a WEC round one week before, and another one week after, so it'll likely be a little bit of a separate effort from the WEC squad.

I wonder if this means Rebellion are looking to leave Lola after this year? Given the spare parts situation (Dyson doesn't even have a spare nose now), running a third car while two others race for a total of three races in three weeks seems like they're using up what's left and moving on.

Either that, or Rebellion just love Petit Le Mans and realize this could be the last one ever run. Or Rebellion want to win Petit Le Mans to get a third car invited to Le Mans next year.

Anyway, that brings the PLM LMP1 field up to 4. One HPD ARX-03a Honda, one Lola B12/60 Mazda, one Lola B11/66 Mazda, and one Lola B12/60 Toyota. I think Rebellion are the favorites to win overall right now, given Pickett Racing's HPD reliability issues, and Dyson's...well, everything issues.

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Some good information from John Dagys:

ouTube

Basically:

  • Not sure how ACO cars could fit into Grand-Am, or if Grand-Am wants to be associated with Le Mans.
  • ACO sanction for ALMS ends after 2013, hence the merge is 2014.
  • Some manufacturers have been left in the dark over this, but others were part of it. He doesn't think the teams were involved and I can verify that. The guys I know on teams in ALMS were totally unaware. Just series partners. So that leaves a lot open for the teams.
  • ALMS has three invites to Le Mans at the end of this year. It is up to ALMS to decide who they are. That sucks. It used to be for the class champions and winners at Sebring and Petit. So we'll see less ALMS at Le Mans next year I guess. I think this is a move by the FIA to convince Corvette, SRT, etc. to move to WEC.
  • Says Daytona Prototypes will definitely stay and there are "more manufacturers" getting involved with their own bodywork (like Corvette), including Ford.

There's a lot in that. So much to try to put together with where this all going and how it relates to the big picture (WEC etc).

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I read the chat with Dagys; not much there.

And now the Internet is exploding with conflicting rumors about everything. I can't wait to get home from classes tomorrow night to read about the announcement. I've heard literally everything thrown out there by now.

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