Grand Am, ALMS merge…goodbye LMP’s

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If you’ve been listening or reading F1B for any length of time, you know I really like the ALMS as well as its inspiration, Le Mans or the WEC. Having been to several Petit Le Mans, I considered the ALMS the best racing in America. No offense meant toward NASCAR or Grand Am, they are both good series, I just preferred the ALMS and close ties with Le Mans with classes and the racing it produced.

The big news this week is the merger of Grand Am and ALMS with Don Panoz and Jim France making the announcement on Wednesday. The series doesn’t have a name yet but its garnered the praise of the ACO’s president, Pierre Fillon, and series organizers say they wish to remain close to Le Mans. The ACO released a statement that said:

“The ACO is delighted about this merger, which will increase the already large audience for endurance in North America and at the same time boost its international impact.

“The quality of the two organisations combined is a guarantee of confidence concerning the perpetuation of the values and prestige of the Le Mans 24 Hours on the American continent.”

The dissappointing element of the merger is the removal of the LMP class. Panoz said:

“In our situation were are not thinking about an LMP1 class,” he explained. “We are thinking about prototypes, advanced prototypes. We are American based and this series we are putting together is an American sportscar series and we need to take care of our own market.”

I understand that. I get the point that the DP class, besides being ugly, is less expensive and features American manufacturer support, engines etc. I also understand that the LMP class is more Le Mans-centric and usually consists of exotic chassis and engine combinations that don’t appeal to the average American consumer. Still…it is what they race at Le Mans and the winners in ALMS were guaranteed a slot at the 24 hours of Le Mans. DP cars won’t fit that model.

Many fans consider the GT classes in Le Mans and Grand Am as where the real racing is at. I can’t disagree with them as the Corvettes, Ferrari’s, Porsche’s and other cars all fight for supremacy. Would the remaining invitation to Le Mans be for GT class winners? Would a less expensive DP class have an invite that would allow them to build an LMP for the 24 Hours? I can’t imagine a team wanting to build an LMP for one shot but it’s been done many times before.

What are your thoughts on the merger? What are you excited about and concerned about? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

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12 Comments on "Grand Am, ALMS merge…goodbye LMP’s"

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Alianora La Canta
Guest

I heard that the combined series was considering (but cannot yet confirm in either direction) inviting Deltawings and LMP2s as “support prototypes” to the primary DP class. Auto-entries for anyone in the series hasn’t been sorted out because the ACO would need to be satisfied the new classes were close enough for permission to be granted, and the series itself doesn’t know yet.

tfirth392
Guest
tfirth392
I haven’t had chance to listen to anything else been said since the press conference, however it didn’t give much away other than the series wants 12 races, I think the links with the ACO want to be kept for GT cars, how that will work out I don’t know but it would mean that the GT cars would have to be close to been compliant with the ALMS GT rules, not the Grand Am GT rules. I hope we still see P2 entries in the series, because I thought that a p2 was cheaper than a DP and want… Read more »
Schmorbraten
Guest
Schmorbraten

Two series merge out of how many sportscar racing series worldwide? 10? 15? 20?

Grand-Am, ALMS, IMSA Light, Asian LMS, LMS, WEC, FIA GT1/2/3/4, Australian GT, JLMC, Japanese Super GT500/300, SCCA Pro, Britcar, British GT, Belcar, FFSA GT, Trans-Am, Porsche Supercup, ADAC GT Masters, …

Funny chaos. Could be so much more attractive and easier to sell to the customers if there were some regulations in place integrating all these series and establishing a hierarchy of regional > national > by continent > worldwide championships.

Schmorbraten
Guest
Schmorbraten
And I agree, Todd: LMP1s yay, DPs yuck! Sad you’ve got no Audi with money to spend on promoting super-efficient diesels. In 2050 the average petrolhead will probably still think only petrol V8s above 400 cubic imperial somethings can have any sort of meaningful grunt (and therefore it’s hard to sell a racing series without V8s to them), even if the gas price is up to 500$ per gallon because there’s almost nothing left of it in the world. From 2010 to 2011 the Audi LMPs had to go from 5.5 to 3.7 litres cubic capacity with virtually no performance… Read more »
Tim
Guest
Tim

I for one am excited about the merger. Have two sports car series running in America is not a good thing. We have see what having two open wheel series has done to Indycar. Both Grand Am and ALMS have some great things to offer. I just hope the new series (and it’s leadership) uses some common since and tries to incorporate the best of both worlds. I cannot wait to see this new series running around COTA!

mg5904
Guest
mg5904

I lost CART. Now I’m losing ALMS. I’m sad.

Doug
Guest
I fear a dumbing-down of sports car racing in North America. One of the reasons why I like the ALMS and WEC, is the high level of technological innovation that is encouraged and embraced. We need that! We used to have that in IndyCar, but since the split, we’ve seen open-wheel racing in NA move away from that cutting edge, and the merger of CCWS and the IRL didn’t move us forward in that regard. ALMS was our last hope. Now that they’re saddled with a league that touts a sub GT3 class as it’s top GT category and a… Read more »
Steven
Guest
Steven

THe high tech side is a big reason why I watch F1, and that has always been part of the appeal of ALMS for me. I enjoy watching races with cars that have been design with a money is no object approach, cars with form follows function designs. The DPs are nice to watch, but its not the same. I’m going to miss those Audi’s and Toyotas(I already miss the Peugeots). I think they’re going the wrong way on this one, ditching the big manufacturers is never a good idea

Debris88
Guest
Debris88

OK, so we’re stuck with Grand Am. Would it be too much to ask of these people to race without constantly wrecking? It reeks of NASCAR.
BTW, nothing was more fun than the first five or so years of the ALMS!

Negative Camber
Guest

Couldn’t agree more. ALMS was the best racing in the US.

Debris88
Guest
Debris88

Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as I comment on the amount of contact in Grand Am racing, they put on a beautiful exhibition of racing at Laguna Seca this past weekend. A fun event to watch with minimal contact and not one yellow that I can recall. Am I wrong on that? All of this with Paul Matsushita de Cesaris Tracy on track….Maybe this new merger will be pretty cool. Even those DP cars are looking better these days!

Sod's Law
Guest
Sod's Law

More spec car racing? No thank you. On a brighter note, I see Rebellion will return to ALMS next year. Whether or not it is another Toyota powered “Lotus” at this point is pure conjecture.