A dynamic 2012 schedule, a new agreement with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), and upgrades to its pioneering TV and digital package highlighted the annual State of the Series for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n. Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO, heralded the Series’ progress and growth in a number of key areas in 2011 and emphasized that even larger gains are coming next season for the world’s leading sports car championship.
“We’ve embraced change to drive progress because that is what’s at the heart of our sport’s reason for being,” Atherton said. “The American Le Mans Series represents the leading-edge of motorsports – not just in North America but around the globe. That will continue into 2012 and beyond as we continue to solidify the American Le Mans Series in a leadership position.”
Against the backdrop of Road Atlanta’s 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda – the final event of 2011 – Atherton announced the American Le Mans Series and the ACO will continue their 13-year alliance, renewing for 2012 and beyond. The first race under the new agreement will be the 60th anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida – the opening round of the 2012 ALMS championship and the new FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Series’ annual appearance at Sebring on March 17 ranks as one of the impact points of the 2012 schedule. It also features a return to a May date for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and the highly successful Baltimore Grand Prix in early September. The season once again will close with the 15th running of Petit Le Mans on Oct. 20.
“Each year we strive to put together a calendar of events that features the top tier of road and street-racing venues while impacting major urban markets,” Atherton said. “Our 2012 schedule definitely accomplishes these two key goals.”
The American Le Mans Series also will enter into the second year of its digital and broadcast partnership with ABC and ESPN. For 2012, four races will be televised live on ABC and ESPN2. As was the case in 2011, all Series races will be streamed live on ESPN3 – the fastest growing video platform on the web – and archived for on-demand viewing on ESPN3 and americanlemans.com. The American Le Mans Series is the first major racing series to make such a commitment to web-based television.
The results of the groundbreaking broadcast partnership for 2011 to date are phenomenal and show that the ALMS is reaching audiences well beyond the core sports car racing enthusiast. According to Nielsen Media Research, broadcasts of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n on ABC and ESPN have reached 1 million more households than at this point last year for an increase of 51 percent over the 2010 audience.
Even using conservative estimates for this weekend’s broadcast and stream of Petit Le Mans, the Series will virtually double its total television audience compared to 2010.
“As we have done many times before, we have taken a bold leadership position in redefining our broadcast elements,” Atherton said. “We knew that breaking away from the status quo was going to be difficult but rewarding in the end. There is no question we are aligned with the broadcast industry leader for network, sports and internet television. I can assure our fans and stakeholders alike that the path we are taking will enhance and expand the experience of what the American Le Mans Series represents.”
Those watching the ALMS in 2012 will see the same five classes as in 2011: LMP1, LMP2, LMP Challenge, GT and GT Challenge. In 2012, LMP1 regulations will remain consistent with the current 2011 regulations which include 2010 “grandfathered” cars. LMP2, LMPC, GT and GTC regulations will remain as they are in 2010.
“We believe we have in place an ideal situation with the regulations from Le Mans as a basis for our championship, but the flexibility to do what we feel is in the best interests of the American Le Mans Series, our participants and fans,” Atherton said. “We are grateful to our partners at the ACO for their cooperation as we continue to advance the American Le Mans Series and Le Mans style racing in North America.”
Atherton also touched on the ALMS’ success in a variety of measurable categories. Attendance continued to climb in 2011, aided by the Series’ new digital marketing efforts with agency-of-record McMurry. Thanks to this partnership, traffic to americanlemans.com has increased 24 percent and the growth rate of traffic has doubled. Those numbers will grow larger still with the introduction of a new American Le Mans Series website – ALMS.com. It will offer an unprecedented level of engaging content that is aimed to attract both the casual and hard-core fan of sports car racing.
This year the Series continued to receive landmark media coverage in the mainstream media such as TIME magazine, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg TV. In fact, Bloomberg TV will feature the American Le Mans Series in an upcoming episode of their “Enterprise” series which examines American companies that lead their fields in innovation, adaptation and growth.
At the same time, more and more companies are seeking ways to become involved with the ALMS. The most prominent new addition is Forza Motorsport 4 as the Official Racing Game partner of the American Le Mans Series. The relationship brings a significant demographic and marketing platform to the American Le Mans Series. The creator of Forza 4 – Microsoft’s Turn 10 Studios - has enthusiastically embraced the partnership and is using this weekend’s Petit Le Mans to serve as the U.S. marketing launch of Forza Motorsport 4.
“We have now put all of the pieces together to enable the ALMS to lead where it matters most - right here in North America,” Atherton concluded. “There is no uncertainty. There is nothing in our way. We have the foundation, the resources, the partners, the flexibility and the vision to continue building a world-class sports car racing property that delivers unmatched value and ROI to all involved.”
2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n Schedule
||Sebring International Raceway
|ABC (March 18)|
||Long Beach Street Circuit
Long Beach, Calif.
||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
|ESPN2 (May 13)|
||Lime Rock Park
||Mosport International Raceway
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Elkhart Lake, Wis.
|ESPN2 (Aug. 19)|
||Baltimore Street Circuit
|ABC (Sept. 2)|
||Petit Le Mans
|ABC (Oct. 21)|