In reality Autocon Motorsports will campaign just one car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, starting with this weekend’s annual Test Day. But it may indeed seem like two. The team, owned by Michael Lewis, missed the most recent American Le Mans Series race at Miller Motorsports Park as parts from the team’s Creation CA06 were shipped from Autocon headquarters in southern California to England and the Creation factory.
“The equipment went over two weeks ago,” Lewis said. “This was necessary because due to circumstances, we are having to build up a car in England at the Creation factory. So we will technically be running a new Creation chassis with many of our parts installed. We will be running the same Judd S1 5.0-liter engine we always do…probably the oldest engine in the race!”
The Autocon car at Sebring earlier this year
Autocon’s American Le Mans Series racer has donated its front suspension, rear assembly and gearbox for the Le Mans cause. That will help make drivers Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman, and the 30-member Autocon crew feel more at home despite being more than 5,500 miles away.
Lewis is a Le Mans rookie. McMurry and Willman both competed in a Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam LMP675 in 2003. Coincidentally, the Pilbeam was assigned No. 23 in that race. And guess what number the Autocon Creation will have this year? Hopefully it will bring better luck this time around; the Pilbeam retired after a little more than six hours with an engine failure.
Autocon will return stateside and to the American Le Mans Series for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in mid-July. Stripping the parts from the Le Mans car and getting them back to the US in time to have the CA06 reconstructed for Lime Rock will be impossible.
“There’s always a chance we might bring the Le Mans car back,” Lewis said, “but it is more probable that we will update to the new tub and bodywork at season’s end.”
The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Thirty-nine drivers will be representing the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to-flag coverage of the race as well as the June 1 test day, and practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 12 at Lime Rock Park. SPEED will televise the race live as will XM Satellite Radio on XM Sports Nation Channel 144. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring also will be available at americanlemans.com.
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