ALMS extends with Long Beach
ALMS President Scott Atherton and Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach head honcho Jim Michaelian announced a 5-year extension to their deal to race on the streets of Long Beach with Indy Cars. ALMS will remain the feature event on Saturday and Indy Car on Sunday. The ALMS race will remain a sprint race because of the lack of time in the busy weekend schedule and the fact it is hard to get fans to stay for a long, say 6-hour, endurance event.
The American Le Mans Series and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach today announced an extension to keep the world’s premier sports car series racing at one of the world’s most iconic street circuits. The Series competes this weekend in the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach for the second consecutive season. The extension will allow southern California fans to enjoy the cars and stars of the American Le Mans Series through 2013.
While the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with its 34 years of history may be best known as an open-wheel venue, the American Le Mans Series scored a victory of its own as Long Beach spectators were enthralled by the world’s premium brand of motorsport in 2007, a race that began Penske Racing’s unparalleled eight-race overall win streak.
The Series’ collection of elite prototype and production-based manufacturers, competing with a platform that encourages technology transfers from racetrack to showroom, and a fan-friendly openness with spectators all combined to make the American Le Mans Series an instant success.
“There is no doubt that Long Beach and southern California represent an ideal market for the American Le Mans Series,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “We have seen that our brand of racing - with its relevant, leading-edge technology goes hand-in-hand with the most influential marketplace in North America. That is a key reason why we are so thrilled to announce this five-year extension today.
|The two Penske Porsches on the streets of Long Beach|
“We send special thanks to Jim Michaelian and the rest of the staff with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach,” Atherton added. “They are a large reason why we are making this announcement. The reception of the American Le Mans Series in our first year at Long Beach in 2007 was more than we could have hoped for. With this world-class event now confirmed as a regular feature on our calendar, we look forward to working with Jim and his staff to make our race bigger and better by every measure.”
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, in its 34th year, is America’s premier street race that annually attracts 180,000 people during its three-day weekend. The Grand Prix features six racing series, free concerts, a Lifestyle Expo with an emphasis on green technologies and a number of other activities.
“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to host a round of the American Le Mans Series here at Long Beach for the next five years,” said Jim Michaelian, President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “Its exciting brand of racing has certainly enhanced our Super Saturday program and its efforts with regard to highlighting alternate fuel alternatives fit extremely well with our own Green Power Prix-View concept.”
The southern California market became an even greater focal point of the Series in January when it became the first motorsports organization to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International as a ‘green racing’ series. The American Le Mans Series has more manufacturers competing head-to-head than any other series in the world and also is a pioneer in the field of alternative energy sources. All cars compete with either clean diesel, cellulosic E85 or E10.
American Le Mans Series rules also allow the introduction of additional energy sources including fuel-electric hybrid motors and energy recovery systems. The regulations encourage manufacturers to develop new technologies through racing that can be applied to improve the automobiles being built for consumers.
“This makes our Series a perfect fit for the focus the Grand Prix of Long Beach has featured in its Expo with emphasis on such things as alternative fuels, reduction of greenhouse gasses and related issues,” Atherton noted. “Addressing these challenges is at the core of the American Le Mans Series’ green racing initiatives. It will be interesting to see what new automotive innovations are showcased on the streets of Long Beach by the Series over the next five years.”
This is the second such event agreement for the Series in less than a month. The city of St. Petersburg, Andretti Green Promotions and the Series announced April 6 that the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will continue through 2013 with the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg a staple of the weekend.
A year ago, Penske Racing’s Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas won overall and led a podium sweep for Porsche in the American Le Mans Series’ Long Beach debut. Other premium manufacturers such as Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Mazda and Panoz will compete in Saturday’s race. All view southern California as a target-rich market.
“Just as the American Le Mans Series symbolizes authenticity and forward-thinking innovation, the Grand Prix of Long Beach also represents historical significance and excellence in motorsports,” Atherton said. “We are proud that the American Le Mans Series is establishing itself as a cornerstone race within the event weekend. We bring an unmatched level of competition and relevance that made this long-term extension an easy decision for all involved.
“Our teams, our manufacturers and our corporate partners have made it clear they want us to be here,” he concluded. “We share that sentiment and with this new agreement it’s safe to say the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach does as well.”
The Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, Round 3 of the 2008 season, is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 19 from the famed Long Beach street circuit. ABC will broadcast the race from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 20. XM Satellite Radio will provide coverage on Channel 144 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET Saturday, April 19. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of the race at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.