OURSLER: The Rambling Road


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are times when one just can’t seem to catch a break. For the American Le Mans Series this past weekend’s Mid Ohio round was one of them. However, this time around it wasn’t so much what happened on the track, but above it.

Partnered with the Indy car set, which ran in relative sunshine on Sunday, the ALMS’s Saturday affair did, indeed, begin under clear skies, but ended in a deluge under a red flag with various competitors struggling to dig their cars out of the soggy mess they had found when they slid off the impossibly slick track surface.

As usual, the top of the finishing order was headed by the Lola coupes of the Muscle Milk camp and Dyson Racing; this time with the Aston Martin V-12 Muscle Milk entry of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf holding the advantage over the Mazda-powered Dyson example of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson,

Behind them the Chevrolet-Oreca crowd of the LMPC spec category with Tony Drissi and Kyle Marcelli out front.

As for the production car community, there the Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3RSR of Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler survived the downpour and its spinning rivals to go from fifth to first in the final moments before the red flag came out to claim the team’s first ALMS triumph. Finally in the all-Porsche GT3 Cup class Duncan Ende and Spencer Pompelly took care of business, garnering the first-place honors there.

The real question though wasn’t so much the statistical results as it was the future of the series itself. In today’s world where all too many want what they want without any hassles in getting it, watching the ALMS electronically is anything but hassle free. The primary medium is ESPN3, a webcast that because of technical and contractual issues, is hard to get and hard to watch on one’s computer.

The secondary source for watching the ALMS are the tape-delayed, cut down programs shown by the ESPN-ABC folks. And, while many will record them, the fact of the matter is their air times are less than convenient, the Mid Ohio race being telecast on ESPN2 from 10 p.m, to Midnight on Sunday evening.

And, while the ALMS will argue that those who really want to see the series, will record it and watch it at their leisure, the fact remains that trying to struggle with the live streaming video, or waiting to late Sunday night, or beyond to see “all the action,” is, perhaps a less than ideal for an impatient society.

There is no question that the ALMS is having its problems in 2011, having to depend on its production entries to provide and really excitement for its fans instead of the advanced technology prototypes of previous years. Moreover, if the ALMS had decided to do what it did this season in combining computers with television several years hence, instead of now, those in charge would look like geniuses. But, they did do it now, and unfortunately the technology is not developed enough to make it work.

Hopefully, the “true believers” will stay with the ALMS through what is so obviously a less than perfect set of circumstances both on and off the track. Unfortunately, as we have all learned in recent days what we do does have consequences. For the ALMS, one is reminded that “out of sight — out of mind” is not a good recipe for survival.