Bill Auberlen on Petit LeMans Bill Auberlen and Road Atlanta need no introduction. The lead driver for Panoz Team PTG’s American Le Mans Series effort has made nine starts in the Series at the track, the annual site of Petit Le Mans. Auberlen is a two-time winner in the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic with class wins at the first race in 1998 and again in 2001. He would like nothing more than to add a third win to an already impressive record in the American Le Mans Series.
Road Atlanta on his mind: “It’s great. If you have a good car it’s even better. If you’re in the front it’s even better. The Panoz always runs quick there. We’ve won a race there and it’s a very challenging track. You have two different speeds – LMP cars and GT cars. So there could be a 30-40 mph speed difference between the two. To watch them cohesively get together on a track is a feat in itself.
Homecoming for Panoz: “You always want to do well in front of your sponsors, the people that make the car, work on the car and touch the car. They’re all going to be there. We’ll have a lot of visitors and a lot of people. Pretty much for me, I want to win every weekend so there’s not that much a difference. But you really, really want to do it for the guys.”
Bringing Le Mans to Georgia: “The atmosphere is unbelievable. There’s a carnival-like atmosphere, like they’ve brought a little bit of Europe and Le Mans right to Atlanta. There’s great food…I’m always sneaking away to get something I shouldn’t be eating, which is fantastic. The racing is unbelievable. They will see nine hours of racing nose-to-tail from beginning to end. It ends at night so it has a great feeling. There are fire pits and fireplaces everywhere, then a big fireworks show at the end. It’s one of my favorite races for sure.”
It’s come a long way: “From the first year no one really knew about it. A few years later word spread like wildfire. A lot of people come, and there’s always room for more. The fans love this event. It has gotten more and more reviews from the people that they love it.”
The 10th running of Petit Le Mans, the annual 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic at Road Atlanta, is set for 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 6. SPEED will provide live coverage from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 6:30 to 10 p.m. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.
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