Grand Am/ALMS: The shape of things to come
This years Sebring 12hrs marked the end of an era for sports car racing in the US, as well as the begining of a new chapter. After 13 successful years under the "American Le Mans Series" banner, the series will come to a close under the current guise with the arrival (and merger) of the existing Grand Am sports car series. The new merger between these two iconic series in America brings a new name to affiliate itself as one "Unified" series. Back in September 2012 (when the merger was announced), both series organizers decided to allow the opportunity for the fans to help guide the new series ahead with a new name. The Name the Future contest generated more than 7,500 entries. Louis Satterlee (A 25yr old Floridian) selection was selected. For 2014, the new series will be called "United Sports Car Racing."
"We wanted to come up with a descriptive phrase and sportscar as the anchor of it all," explained GRAND-AM CEO Ed Bennett. "It needed to be a name that people understand what it was when you said it. No one wanted to come up with a name that takes people 20 years to identify with. "Sportscar is the anchor of it all then united has lots of meaning as well. United in the sense we’re uniting two series. United as in drivers and teams and manufacturers from around the world because sportscar racing truly is an international sport."
"I think the name is fantastic because it says it all," Bill France said. "I'm extremely excited for sportscar racing. We have a tremendous opportunity here with global interest from companies all around the world. It's a global melting pot of motor sports and I don't think there is another racing series like that in the United States." Along with the new name, comes a new class structure that will merge both the existing classes from both series. The Daytona Prototype Corvette teams will join the LMP2 machinery to form the "Prototype" class (in addition to the "Prototype Challenge" class). The GT field will be split into three categories, retaining the heritage of both series. "GT LeMans" will retain the GTE structure with the offical Corvette Racing team and other ACO compliant machinery. "GT Daytona" and "GX" will complete the GT field.
The new series will pave the way for the Daytona Prototype machines to compete at new and exciting venues starting in 2014. This includes the iconic Sebring 12 Hours in Florida as well as the Road Atlanta circuit in Atlanta Georgia. In the long run, this merger will impact the presence of Sports cars both from a domestic, and global standpoint. With the merger comes a more unified platform/series for manufactuers to display upcoming technology, which can be transferred or applied to their road car division. In addition, the new merger will provide one less platform for manufactuers to development or adapt for a specific model (current GTE and Daytona GT).
Overall, we are anxious to see what this new series will provide for the private efforts of the Daytona Prototype teams and their venture into this new "Unified" Series.