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ALMS and Grand-Am to merge in 2014


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#1 SonnyViceR

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:27

Shock horror news for sportscar racing fans, it would appear that the impossible is going to happen - are the two long-time North American rivals actually going to join forces?? :eek: :eek:
http://auto-racing.s...alizing-merger/

Now this is something I never expected to happen, I'm truly shocked. Not sure if it's really THAT great news (or rather rumours) though as it would appear that Grand-Am ie NASCAR would take over IMSA's duties as the main organizing body which is extremely worrying... and there are million other things that could go wrong with this "relationship" too. Make of it what you want but this is big news

Edited by SonnyViceR, 01 September 2012 - 18:33.


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#2 rmac923

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:36

Not all that surprising. ALMS never recovered from the withdrawal of Audi & Penske after 2008. Grand AM is underrated IMO. Both DP and GT classes are quite competitive.

Though I wouldn't call it a merger, this is Nascar buying out a near dead series.

#3 SonnyViceR

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:44

Grand-Am is averaging 25 cars outside Daytona and race attendances are downright horrible... also there is a big dispute inside the "prototype" paddock right now if you have followed what's going on behind the scenes, and the DPG3 hasn't exactly brought anyone new in. ALMS may have massive problems with prototypes but GT is great and most of the events reach huge crowds.

The surprise factor comes from the fact that the relationship between the two bodies has been... ice cold at best

#4 SR388

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:46

Good, the only good part of Grand-Am is the touring car series. I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.

#5 SonnyViceR

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:50

I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.


While the DPs might be kinda lacklusters in terms of technology and speed, the 2012 DPG3 makeover really fixed many of the issues regarding looks... G1 and G2 were blatantly horrible I agree but the new bodies are quite nice

I have no idea what will happen with the classes, calendar and the Le Mans link-up but as ALMS fan I'm extremely worried. United single championship is great I guess but as I said, NASCAR can/will quickly mess it up

Edited by SonnyViceR, 01 September 2012 - 18:53.


#6 GSiebert

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 18:57

Good, the only good part of Grand-Am is the touring car series. I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.

I like the look of the 2012 cars, they look like small Group C cars. The cars before that were ugly though.

#7 SonnyViceR

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 19:16

More that I think of this, more worried I get. So ALMS will celebrate it's 15th anniversary next year by possibly flushing it all down the toilet by the end of the year... NASCAR controlling sportscars has never been particularly great IMO, I mean I enjoy watching GA and CTSCC as SHOWS but that's all what they are, [less successfull] Sprint Cup on road courses with all the gimmicks - green white checkers, extensive performance balancing, tube frames and rebrandings, crash crash crash mentality, weird officialiting, cautions every five minutes caused by invisible debris. The possibility of losing the Le Mans association as well as turning everything into what Nascar presents is a scary though. This also probably includes massive slowing down of ACO prototypes so that the DPs don't look so pathetic, as well as dumping down the GTs

Need more information to make a better view of this but the main worry is not the merge (or whatever you wanna call it) itself, but Nascar and their dumbed-down policies taking everything over

Edited by SonnyViceR, 01 September 2012 - 19:20.


#8 BigCHrome

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 19:44

ALMS is basically dead. I'm guessing that GA will take over running the big events - Petit Le Mans and Sebring and that will be it.

#9 JacnGille

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 01:26

I guess we'll be seeing pigs fly very, very soon. :eek:

#10 Rob G

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 04:05

While ALMS has been struggling, so has Grand-Am, with the DP car count half of what it was just a few years ago. I'm really hoping the series looks a lot more like ALMS than Grand-Am, but I'm not holding my breath.

#11 V8 Fireworks

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 06:19

Good, the only good part of Grand-Am is the touring car series. I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.

They aren't nearly as ugly as they were originally. I think they have reduced the size of the glass house considerably.

The corvette version looks fine IMO. :)

I suppose this take-over wouldn't hurt, but I have not seen much of the ALMS.

Grand Am is a nice effort for NASCAR to lock in support from BMW, Toyota, Ferrari etc at an affordable cost level for all parties concerned. (AND clearly differentiate it from NASCAR in principle, (although there is the silly sight of a Camaro beating a F458) certainly you absolutely don't see NASCAR making an all road course class with all (real) ponycars and nascar blocks, that would be out of the question and dilute the NASCAR brand!) Even the US DTM series will be run with NASCAR and Grand Am, locking Mercedes and Audi money into the NASCAR machine! Catering for all marques, they sure know how to please, unlike Bernie driving works teams out of F1 and GP2/GP3 with absurd costs (Bernie with only three real manufaturer partners, not even a different engine partner for the cheaper GP2... a joke really in comparison)

Edited by V8 Fireworks, 02 September 2012 - 06:20.


#12 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:19

I want to wait to see what the resulting series will look like, or even just the format.

#13 PNSD

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:20

This has been in the pipeline for a long time coming...

ALMS is dead.

#14 Fulcrum

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:41

Good, the only good part of Grand-Am is the touring car series. I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.


The new Daytona prototypes looking a lot better than lmp cars.
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#15 Option1

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:13

Those who think the DTP cars look good seriously need to get to an optometrist! The shaved arse of a dog taught to walk backwards looks better than those things. And that doesn't even touch on the fact they're basically crap slow and primitive tech. I'll take the high tech of ALMS every time.

Additionally, as someone above pointed out, ALMS fields aren't small and the crowds are generally good. Despite some people's love affair with anything NASCAR spoon feeds them, ALMS is a long way from dead.

Neil

#16 DanardiF1

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:15

I can see this becoming a series with DP's, LMP2, GTE and then the Grand-Am GT's.

Grand-Am want the GT's from ALMS, as that class is probably the finest GT series in the world. They'll race DP's and detuned LMP2's at the top, as they are 'cheap' enough to ensure a decent grid, and then the Grand-Am spec 'GT3' cars will fill out the rest of the grid.

#17 Risil

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:33

Indeed. And DMG's slash-and-burn approach to AMA Road Racing doesn't exactly fill one with hope for the institution of American sports car racing.

ALMS is closely tied with the series in Euroland (obviously). When the ACO is putting together a new formula to try and encourage manufacturer participation and "sports car values", it seems like a silly time for American to turn its back on it.

Edited by Risil, 02 September 2012 - 11:33.


#18 Option1

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 03:45

http://www.sportscar...-am-merger.html

Doesn't bode well.

Neil

#19 rmac923

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 16:47

http://www.sportscar...-am-merger.html

Doesn't bode well.

Neil


About to post this.

Nascar owning Road Atlanta and Sebring... :cry:

Sebring is likely off the WEC schedule.

Edited by rmac923, 03 September 2012 - 16:48.


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#20 BetaVersion

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 22:57

I have watched almost all Grand-Am races this year and it's not true that DPs are slow. They have quite some grip in corners. I suspect that Continental tire does one hell of a job

Also, the ACO prototypes are not that great either, exception to Audi and now Toyota which seems to have some decent downforce on it.

The LMP cars that are currently racing on ALMS are not that much faster in corners than the DPs, and I also don't think they are ugly.

I wish ACO or whatever rule that would be introduced in this merged series would allow more downforce and less weight so that we could have these prototypes faster than F1

#21 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 23:11

Why? You'd just making the racing worse to be able to claim a certain laptime.

#22 BigCHrome

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 23:18

Those who think the DTP cars look good seriously need to get to an optometrist! The shaved arse of a dog taught to walk backwards looks better than those things. And that doesn't even touch on the fact they're basically crap slow and primitive tech. I'll take the high tech of ALMS every time.

Additionally, as someone above pointed out, ALMS fields aren't small and the crowds are generally good. Despite some people's love affair with anything NASCAR spoon feeds them, ALMS is a long way from dead.

Neil


Modern LMP1's look horrible as well.

#23 JacnGille

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 23:34

Nascar owning Road Atlanta and Sebring... :cry:

A very scarey thought.

#24 pingu666

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 00:09

you cant go much faster and have safe multiclass racing i think.

imo if you merged the current series, gt cup alms goes in with grand am gt (they where the same car for awhile), gte its own class

grand am dp cars are about as fast as a lmpc i think, so give them abit more performance, maybe drop the lmp1/2 cars down abit so dp and lmp2 are in one class (forget about full lmp1)

lmpc remaining as a junior prototype catagory

but which direction they would take the prototype catagories going forward will be very interesting

#25 Woody3says

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 20:45

Tomorrow morning 10am Eastern US Time, live stream @

http://ow.ly/dsLAB

#26 Slowinfastout

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 21:05

I'm so unsure about the whole thing I dunno what to say..

On paper I think it makes a lot of sense to join forces and create one big kickass series, on the other hand I am not sure at all it is a good thing that it's basically the inferior series taking over the good one..



#27 Woody3says

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:04

The truly eery part of it all is the similarity (so far) to CART/IRL. France vs Panoz just REEKS of George vs Owners....For its own sake, I hope the France family realizes that the AOWR debacle was a big help in placing NASCAR on top. They must incorporate the best of ALMS and not "we won so f*** you, we do it this way"


Oh man this is going to end bad.....

http://www.autoextremist.com/fumes1

Edited by Woody3says, 05 September 2012 - 01:41.


#28 BetaVersion

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:55

Why? You'd just making the racing worse to be able to claim a certain laptime.

I wish they allowed more ground effect so prototypes could follow even closer in corners, once they already can follow better than F1 cars, by watching it.

#29 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:19

I can't stand the look of those Daytona prototypes.


THIS.




#30 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:22

ALMS is basically dead. I'm guessing that GA will take over running the big events - Petit Le Mans and Sebring and that will be it.


I don't get it, Petit LeMans always seems to have a really big crowd?

It's hard to follow ALMS on tv, though.




#31 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:23

The new Daytona prototypes looking a lot better than lmp cars.


They're looking better than they used to, but

a) they don't look better than LMP cars and..
b) LMP cars *all look different from each other*, instead of just being clones.

Edited by Rubens Hakkamacher, 05 September 2012 - 05:24.


#32 Red17

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 11:05

The user who wrote this is as much of a merger as the CART/IRL merger is spot on. Nothing changes for the Grand Am.

The real issue is how will this turn out for the WEC. The fact that Grand Am already clinched the 12 Hours of Sebring is in my view Grand Am placing itself as a direct competitor of the WEC. I guess Petit Lemans will replace Sebring or some other 6 hour race rotating every year and eventually the ACO will go the usual «Bah! Americans don't like european series! We leave!»
But in the long term this situation will be no good as american teams will want to race at Lemans and europeans will want to race in the US as well.
The first thing I can think of is that the ELMS is done for after a painfull year, if it's a simple plug off or a «merger» remains to be seen.

But then again, what sort of WEC will we have in 2014? The only assured factory teams so far are Porsche and Toyota. Audi could still be in but will they be allowed to race Porsche? Let's face it, all other stuff we heard about new manufacturers are still rumours (let's hope they do turn out to be true). The WEC needs a lot more than just 2 rotating LMP1 teams if it wants to stick around. Spa, Silverstone and Fuji are classic venues, but no big event in the US makes the whole thing fall short of it's «World Championship» purpose.

While I agree that it's good to have one good series I feel this is a wasted oportunity. The Grand Am and the ACO should have used this «merger» to create a proper global prototype class that could race in both series.

Everytime a sanctioning body makes a new set of rules they forget it's the teams that have the painfull job of running the cars. It gets worse because every sanction now goes the «our own way» route. Ok, so they like their own rules, but they could at least have made some basic common rules that would allow DP's and LMP's to race each other with some modifications, thus allowing teams to race where they wanted with one car.
Instead, they will be chaining teams to each series and facing the possibility of stagnation in their own lockdown wars, grids will not get bigger with this sort of thinking, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Endurance racing doesn't need to go down the route of open wheel racing being split open.

#33 Slowinfastout

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 11:26

That was a rather confusing post, Red17.

I believe it is premature to say that the plan is to cut all the regulatory ties with ACO (and get rid of all the current ALMS/WEC/ACO-rules machinery), at least in the short-term.. The new merged series probably won't be sanctioned by the FIA like WEC, but then ALMS wasn't either.

I don't see the logic in replacing Sebring with something else either, it's arguably the Indinapolis of the Cart/IRL comparison so it's hardly gonna be the first thing to be ditched.

There's plenty of possibilities when it comes to shoddy political decisions with the merger, but since it is happening anyway, let's see how it goes before jumping to the doomsday scenario.

Edited by Slowinfastout, 05 September 2012 - 11:36.


#34 Slowinfastout

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 12:00

BTW, the PC for the official announcement is in two hours, 10AM ET.. here's the link for it:

http://stream.speedt...m/breaking-news

Hopefully it won't be region locked..

#35 gm914

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 12:40

Hearing on twitter ALMS and Grand-Am championships will be unaffected in 2013.
2014 is apparently when the changes will take place.

#36 Slowinfastout

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 12:48

Yeah, most of it was in the blog posted here above.

There's also this, which is from the same John Dagys bloke: http://auto-racing.s...fication-emerge

** The Panoz Motor Sports Group (ALMS) has been acquired by GRAND-AM/NASCAR Holdings LLC, reportedly in the eight-figure range, and includes the sale of Road Atlanta and long-term lease of Sebring International Raceway. The assets are reportedly part of a new entity that places it under the NASCAR umbrella.

** GRAND-AM co-founder and NASCAR Vice Chairman/Executive Vice President Jim France is expected to serve as the Chairman of the unified series, with ALMS founder Don Panoz reportedly as Vice Chairman. ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton could serve on the board of directors.

** Both series are expected to operate separately in 2013 without any major changes, other than the ownership, with the official merger tabbed for 2014. Current television and commercial contracts appear to have prevented a merger for as early as next year.

** Exact details of the class structure is not expected to be announced tomorrow. However, it’s believed both the current Daytona Prototype and Rolex Series GT categories will be included, along with the highly competitive ALMS GT class. P2 could also feature, although possibly equalized with a potentially faster DP class.

** There appears to be a desire to continue a relationship with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, although the current agreement with the ALMS expires in 2013. Many questions still surround this potential arrangement, especially as it could relate to the class structure and international link.


Personally I don't have much of an issue ditching P1s and equalizing the rest of the prototypes, like the other guys I'm worried about what they'll do with the GTs.. I would think sanity will prevail and at the end of the day they'll settle with whatever the majority of the manufacturers want to do. I'm not an avid follower of Grand-Am, but from the extensive coverage of the Montreal race I followed it seems they are pretty heavy-handed when they have something in mind.. for instance the guy behind the (crazy sounding) speedsource RX-8s said the series were crippling them compared to other cars simply because the series didn't want them anymore, we're talking about the biggest team/car supplier in the category.

Edited by Slowinfastout, 05 September 2012 - 13:10.


#37 Red17

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 13:06

There appears to be a desire to continue a relationship with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest

Please, make this happen.

#38 Rakaman

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 13:30

I don't get it, Petit LeMans always seems to have a really big crowd?

It's hard to follow ALMS on tv, though.


In the US they always used to have dedicated coverage on SPEED but this year they dropped that and supposedly went over to ESPN. I say 'supposedly' because I haven't seen a single race there and not even promos. ESPN doesn't give a damn and there's no coverage. Whoever made the decision to move away from SPEED needs to have their heads on a pike. They single-handledly killed what was left of ALMS

#39 DanardiF1

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 14:14

Hearing on twitter ALMS and Grand-Am championships will be unaffected in 2013.
2014 is apparently when the changes will take place.


That would be because ALMS has a pre-existing sanctioning agreement with the ACO that means they HAVE to run an ALMS championship next year.

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#40 Victor_RO

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 14:20

Please, make this happen.


Looks like the new merged series will still keep some ties with the ACO, and by the sound of it, some common ground on car classes. According to Don Panoz's opening statement that is.

#41 Slowinfastout

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 14:50

I heard lots of positive things in that PC..

Basically there is no question they now have access to every tracks needed to have an epic schedule, they have lots of teams and cars and most likely they will try to start 2014 with a bang with a proper tv deal, lots of promotion, announcements and hype.

I sure tears will be shed in the real world with the equalization process and other issues when attempting to combine the regulations, but I still liked what I heard.

#42 Victor_RO

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 14:51

And the best part of the racing in the ALMS (the main GT class) has been confirmed as being part of the new championship.

#43 Red17

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 15:01

I tried to follow the press conference but the bandwidth is lousy in here so I missed must of the WEC references, tho twitter did quote Panoz on WEC... in a sarcasm? I did get the part of them wanting their teams to go to Lemans and dropping a race in order to do that, anything else?

#44 Victor_RO

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 15:05

I tried to follow the press conference but the bandwidth is lousy in here so I missed must of the WEC references, tho twitter did quote Panoz on WEC... in a sarcasm? I did get the part of them wanting their teams to go to Lemans and dropping a race in order to do that, anything else?


No LMP1 in the new series, apparently not viable at a regional level; new prototype class will probably include the Deltawing, DPs and LMP2s, and both GT classes will be kept around (which would enable the link with the ACO to be kept by sticking with GTE).

#45 Woody3says

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 16:21

And the best part of the racing in the ALMS (the main GT class) has been confirmed as being part of the new championship.

Ahh, I wish I had your optimism, but the devil was in the details. PR 101, say something nice about your "partner" but slip in comments that let you still do as you please without having your feet held to the fire. There was NO admission that ANY of the ALMS would be carried over. All that was said is that there are some "good things across the table"

Yes the ALMS GT class was said to be a "carry over", BUT the words "I cant say that it won't change" were added in. Every single applaud that was given to an aspect of ALMS was followed with a "but we (GA) have a great thing in that same class too, so we cant say that the ALMS class wont change" If it changes it is NOT a carry over but a NASCAR bastardization of the best class of racing anywhere right now IMO.

NASCAR just blatantly said WE WON and YOU must conform to OUR standards.

They also stated that it was their wish to have a relationship to the ACO, but after '13 there is no current tie in. The quip Panoz gave about loving Le Mans and wanting to be there BUT having to look after the US customer reeked to me of the fact that NASCAR will play by its own rulebook and it is on the ACO's shoulders to meet in the middle. They will not, and rightly so. I see all major ALMS prototype teams is serious danger of leaving the new series if the cars do not comply with the ACO rules. They were in the ALMS for a reason, and that was not for the Daytona 24....

The France family will have to do some serious ego checking at the door for this to work out as anything but a complete travesty :cry:

#46 Red17

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 16:57

They were in the ALMS for a reason, and that was not for the Daytona 24....

And from what I understand there is still no word on the «US Race» in the WEC. As it stands it looks like next year might be the last year Sebring will host a round of the WEC for some time.

The ACO wants Lemans as the centerpiece race for both sponsors and teams. Having the GT's as the only link to Lemans is short, and I doubt the ACO will buy it. The ACO wants the big names in the big LMP1 class and probably could care less if the Corvettes don't show up. The centerpiece of Grand Am is the Daytona 24 and I suspect it will remain the Daytona 24.

BMW, Ferrari, Porsche are all european brands that are likely to adopt ACO regulations first if that means entering Lemans, and when I mean regulations I mean not just car specs, I also mean garanteed starting entry rules. That does not mean there will be parity in the car regulations. But the ACO might introduce some annoying requirements that would outlaw the american GT rules or make such entries more difficult. Unfortunately that could mean bad news for the american teams. The few words I got from Don Panoz seems to indicate that many teams still want to race in Lemans and that is probably what's in the talks right now.

Which goes back to my initial post. These 2 sanctioning bodies (NASCAR and ACO) could have taken the opportunity to align some rules that would allow them to bolster the grids in their races instead of going diferent paths risking their grids to become smaller. Teams race for the passion of it, they would race in Daytona, Lemans, Sebring, Fuj and even the Moon if budget allowed.

If I was running that show I would talk to the ACO about merging the LMP2 and DP2 class rules into a global spec that is legal in Daytona and Lemans. Fine, leave the 1 classes for the big boys, but we should keep in mind that nearly 20 years later there is still no heir to the group c class and prototype classes are considered THE sport car racers.

#47 Marbles

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 17:17

At first blush, this strikes me as being like chemotherapy. Not something that you really want, but it sure beats the alternative.

I can't say that I really trust the Frances to maintain the combined series' international ties, but with Sebring under their stewardship, I suppose they'll at least have to make an effort. I guess the thing to remember is this: the only thing stable about US sports car racing over the years is its constant pattern of boom/bust instability, and in the past it has suffered much harder landings than this appears to be. Time will tell, I guess. But for the moment, this merger seems a lot better than many alternative end states.

My biggest fear at this point is for the few remaining independent sports car tracks, this could be a death sentence for a lot of good asphalt.

#48 pingu666

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 17:21

there was plenty of talk, gossip and politiking at sebring about if the wec guys even want a mixed field at races (ie them + local series) and wec dont seem to want that :/


#49 anbeck

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 17:48

LMP2 are faster than DP...

When the WEC was resurrected/reinvented, I had foolish and naive dreams about the Daytona 24 and Sebring being part of it, just like in the good old times..... but now neither will be part of it???

I mean, they won't invite LMP1s to Sebring if they eat DPs for breakfast.

#50 Marbles

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 18:17

I mean, they won't invite LMP1s to Sebring if they eat DPs for breakfast.


I wouldn't put it past the Frances, but if they did that, Sebring wouldn't be Sebring anymore and they'd seriously devalue a property they just paid for. I'm sure they want Daytona to be the series' crown jewel, but I don't think they can mess around with Sebring too much without doing damage to the value of the merger.

The only thing that seems certain to me is that a lot of fudge is about to be used to integrate the two series.