As an American, I can regretfully say that the American Le Mans Series is unequivocally the most relevant racing series in the United States. I know that will not sit well with hardened NASCAR fans but it is a truism that has been proved yet again this weekend at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Itâ€™s not because I am a Formula 1, road course snob (although I admit that I am), or that I have some latent frustration with NASCAR (although I admit that I do) or that I am bereft of what real acing is (although I have been accused of such).
It is because the cars Iâ€™m watching battle for the GT2 championship today are cars I could actually purchase. They are modified for racing but remain the same marque that the showrooms across America have proudly displayed. Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Ford all participated in this weekends battle at the storied circuit Road Atlanta. They remain relevant because unlike NASCAR, they are actual chassisâ€™s that the manufacturer makes. They have no carburetor’s and have working headlamps. They are real and not neolithic cars with an engine that still looks like a 1970â€™s muscle car.
NASCAR hasnâ€™t been relevant for many years, in my opinion, but that doesnâ€™t mean it isnâ€™t entertaining. It just depends on your motivation for watching. I prefer racing series that utilize road course as a more entertaining measure of the car and driver. I like that the cars in the GT series are real manufacturers and that they possess technology that is current in road cars. I find ovals boring and without the nuance and essence of racing as I was raised of road course and not ovals. That may differ completely with a fan who was raised on ovals and loves the gladiatorial nature of NASCAR regardless if the series is relevant or not. Thatâ€™s fair, we all have our reasons for watching.
In the end, The American Le Mans Series is, in my opinion, a far superior series than NASCAR because it is more closely related to its fan base from a consumer and market appeal. NASCAR may ahve the stickers that represent the marketing appeal for sponsors but ALMS has the actual car itself that harkens back to the reason road racing in America began back in 1948 at Watkins Glen.
An the LMP class in ALMS? Thatâ€™s just the icing on the cake. A glimpse of what the technology could do with larger budgets and manufacturer support. Those are the cars by which the series is measured but the cars that represent the heart and soul of American racing is the GT class. I am aware of the different worlds of NASCAR fans and ALMS fans but Iâ€™ll be damned if I can understand it.