In 2014, the calendars of the American Le Mans Series, organized by IMSA, and the Grand-Am Road Racing governed by NASCAR will merge following an agreement reached between the promoters of both competitions.
The Automobile Club is delighted about this merger, which will increase the already large audience for endurance in North America and at the same time boost its international impact. The quality of the two organizations combined is a guarantee of confidence concerning the perpetuation of the values and prestige of the Le Mans 24 Hours on the American continent, which are indispensable elements for endurance racing.
In its role as creator and organizer of the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1923 and promoter of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the ACO will play an active role in the development of this new championship.
The ACO has been a major player in endurance on the North-American continent and it launched the ALMS with its partner Don Panoz in 1999, after the creation of the Petit Le Mans race in 1998 on the Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia.
In 2013, the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am will continue to run separately like in previous seasons. The details of this unified series under the same banner will be announced later on by the promoters of this new championship. It will begin with the 52nd Rolex Daytona 24 Hours in 2014.
The steering committee of this new championship will be presided by Jim France, the founder of Grand-Am as Chairman with Don Panoz, the ALMS founder as vice chairman. The other members are Lesa France Kennedy (NASCAR Executive Vice President), Ed Bennet (CEO/President Grand Am), Scott Atherton (President/CEO ALMS) and Karen Leetzow (NASCAR Vice President and Deputy General Counsel).
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “The merger of these two championships, which was carried out with the approval of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, has become necessary to enable endurance racing to continue to evolve. In 2014, this branch of the sport will have a bigger calendar and high-quality fields. Everybody will benefit from this unified series: entrants in North America, drivers and fans. This rapprochement proves that Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s assessment of the situation is the right one, and one of its major initiatives is to reinforce the presence of endurance racing on the international scene. The foundation consists of three continental series: the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series and this North-American merger in 2014, which will make the base even stronger together with the FIA World Endurance Championship, while the summit of this pyramid remains the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’m happy to meet up with the new team directing this new series in the near future, and to start working with them on this North-American Championship."