Acura to sponsor St. Pete race The Acura Division of American Honda Motor Company will be the title sponsor of the first American Le Mans Series race to be held in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March. The Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg will be the feature event on Saturday, March 31 at the 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The green flag on the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg will drop at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31 and the event will run for two hours, 45 minutes. Entries in four different car classes will compete on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course through the streets of the St. Petersburg bayfront. The race will be aired on SPEED at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31.
"We realized when Acura indicated it was entering the American Le Mans Series, that it would be a very supportive and committed partner," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the Series. "Being involved with Series events such as the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, as well as providing three top world-class race teams, further demonstrates that commitment. We hope to be involved in the St. Petersburg event for years to come as I think our style of racing is something fans will truly love and enjoy."
The race in St. Petersburg is the first of three events at which the American Le Mans Series and the IRL will share the stage at major motorsports venues in 2007.
"With the Acura Division embarking on its first year of American Le Mans Series competition, and with that Series co-headlining the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend, we feel that it's the perfect complement to Honda's title sponsorship of the Grand Prix," said John Mendel, Senior Vice President of Auto Operations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc. "This marks the first time that the American Le Mans Series cars and the Indy Cars have ever shared the stage at a single motorsports event, and their combined presence only enhances the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg's status as one of the signature events on the motorsports calendar."
This year marks the first season of participation in the American Le Mans Series for Acura. The popular auto manufacturer begins its third decade as one of the nation's top performance brands, and Acura's initial entry into the endurance series ties perfectly with the marque's continued evolution in the United States. Working with Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm of American Honda Motor Company, Inc., Acura has brought together three outstanding and successful teams in Andretti Green Racing, Lowe's Fernandez Racing and Highcroft Racing for its first factory motorsports effort. The 2007 Acura American Le Mans Series LMP2 sports car program features the first racing engine (3.4-liter, normally-aspirated, fuel-injected V-8) completely designed and developed by HPD.
The very competitive American Le Mans Series provides an arena for Acura to battle the likes of Porsche, Audi, Mazda and other factory-backed and independent race teams in wheel-to-wheel endurance competition.
"The American Le Mans Series is a major player in the motorsports world and adding the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg to our schedule will bring race fans yet another opportunity to see world-class racing in St. Petersburg," said Kevin Savoree, managing director of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The American Le Mans Series was founded in 1999 by Georgia-based entrepreneur Don Panoz. It features top manufacturers such as Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Corvette, Ferrari, Mazda, Panoz, Porsche, and Saleen.
Four different classes of competition are showcased in the series, featuring open-top prototypes and sophisticated, production-based GT cars. In addition to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the competition is held at road-racing venues across North America, as well as select temporary street circuits in major urban markets. All cars in each class will be using gasoline enriched with 10 percent ethanol for the entire season.
The American Le Mans Series features 12 races in 2007, including the prestigious season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 17) and the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (October 6). All other races are sprint endurance formats, ranging from an hour, 40 minutes at Long Beach to four hours at both Road America and the series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. All events are televised by CBS, NBC or SPEED.