Reaction: Grand-Am/ALMS Merger

The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series announced the class structure the merged organization hopes to use beginning in 2014. (Al Steinberg and Grand-Am Photos)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Today Grand-Am Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series announced a historic merger between the two largest road-racing entities in the United States. Below you’ll find reaction about the merger from manufacturer representatives, team owners, drivers and more. Check back often as this page will be updated throughout the day.

Jamie Allison, Director, Ford Racing

“This is an epic moment for sports car racing in America. The opportunity to take the best of ALMS and Grand-Am and create a strong, unified professional road racing series is what the fans have wanted, the teams have wanted, and the manufacturers have wanted for many years. We at Ford congratulate the Grand-Am and ALMS leadership and all those involved in helping put the merger together for the good of the sport. While we await further details on the homologations and rules for the individual classes, the new, unified approach has a lot of appeal to Ford due to the potential international alignment. We are a global auto manufacturer, and will look for this new series to align well with our global OneFord platform of vehicles and technologies. As a manufacturer and stakeholder in the sport overall, we look forward to working with the new unified management team to frame our involvement going forward.”

Scott Sharp, Owner, Extreme Speed Motorsports, American Le Mans Series

“I’m very excited about the potential merger of ALMS and Grand-Am. I think bringing together the potential that both series have when it comes to TV package, scheduling, competitors and tracks, it could be huge. Hopefully, it will turn out that way. I think sports car racing needs to become more viable. It has to become more attractive to advertisers and sponsors. This potential merger has to be able to increase that opportunity by putting all fronts together pointing in the same direction. This could be a huge boost for sports cars and probably the biggest step forward in several decades. From our sponsor Tequila Patrón’s perspective, this can only be a huge benefit. If we can go to better tracks with bigger audiences and a more solid television package, it has to be something that Patrón will appreciate from all avenues. That is certainly the hope.”

Bobby Rahal, Co-Owner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, American Le Mans Series

“As we’ve seen in Indy car racing, this is nothing but great news for the sport, for the teams and for the fans. It’s a huge win for racing in general and sports car racing in particular. I commend Jim France and Don Panoz for finding a way to come together and doing what is best for the sport. I think that with the combined schedules, the might of ISC’s marketing and the types of circuits we can focus on, it couldn’t be any better for a series. I’m very, very enthused and excited about it and looking forward to seeing it all come together.”

Rob Dyson, Team Principal, Dyson Racing, American Le Mans Series

“The history of sports car racing in America has centered around sophisticated performance and innovation. Dyson Racing has raced top-line prototypes for three decades and the variety of technology and competitors during that period has defined the sport and produced the memories that sustain its growth today and propel its future. We anticipate that this historic merger will produce sports car racing that embraces the diversity that has made our racing a fan favorite, with world-wide legitimacy. There are currently twelve auto and engine manufactures plus four tire manufactures in our series. We expect the newly combined series will produce an even more enhanced arena of value for manufacturers and privateers alike.”

Alex Job, Owner, Alex Job Racing, American Le Mans Series

“We have been racing in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and International Motorsports Association (IMSA) since our inception as a team in 1988. We have also raced with Grand-Am in both the Daytona Prototype and GT categories. It will be interesting to see how the philosophy of ALMS and their association with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) translates to Grand-Am and their relationship with NASCAR. Personally, I like the manufacturer involvement, technology and differing tire combinations in the ALMS. In Grand-Am, I can appreciate the willingness to control costs and level the playing field. However, I also like the thought of competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours with the same car that I am competing with here in the United States. Endurance racers are a resilient bunch. It appears that the group in Daytona are going to give themselves 18-months to forge a sturdy business and technical plan. This has been a long time coming. I am looking forward to going to the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona in January of 2014 and then to Sebring for the 12 Hour a month-and-a-half later like the old days.”

Joie Chitwood III, President, Daytona Int’l Speedway

“This is a very special day for the sport and an incredibly exciting time as we look ahead. I applaud the leadership of both organizations for this bold move that ultimately benefits the great fans of sports car racing in the North America. I am especially pleased to have Daytona International Speedway host the 2014 Rolex 24 – the first unified race of this new sports car series.”

Jeff Belskus, President & CEO, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.

“We congratulate and celebrate this historic merger of North American sports car racing. It has created an even more exciting future for this thrilling form of motorsports, which was met with a very enthusiastic reception from our fans during the IMS debut of Grand-Am in July.”

Mark Reuss, President, GM North America

“This is an exciting moment in sports car racing. This merger combines the best attributes of Grand-Am Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series to create a singularly focused series. Congratulations to Jim France and Dr. Don Panoz on having the passion for sports car racing and the vision to take it to the next level. The joining of these two series will provide a foundation for Chevrolet to develop technologies and race cars with tremendous relevancy to the production vehicles we sell today and in the future.”

Ralph Gilles, President & CEO, Street and Racing Technology (SRT) Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC

“Congratulations to both leadership teams for unifying their efforts to create what will certainly be an amazing new series featuring outstanding sports car competition at some of the most legendary race courses. From a factory team perspective and with our recent return to the track with our new SRT Viper GTS-R, we’re looking forward to working together to make this new series the best in the world for our teams, sponsors and all fans at the track or watching from home.”

Michael Shank, Owner, Michael Shank Racing, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series

“This is an incredible development, and my hat is off to Jim France and Don Panoz for coming together to create a single sports car racing organization here in North America. I can not tell you how excited I am not only for my organization, but for the sport in general. Obviously, there are a lot of questions to be answered about the schedule, the equipment, and the technical regulations. As a team owner, these are very important questions to be resolved. But there is always work to be done in racing, and just knowing that this sport is positioned for the future gives us a very positive outlook as we move forward.”

Art St. Cyr, President, Honda Performance Development

“In much the same way as unification provided a way forward for open-wheel racing, today’s news announcing the merger of the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am has the potential to grow and improve the sport. Honda has participated in sports car racing, under a variety of sanctioning bodies and formats, since the mid-1980s. As a company, we have always sought out series where races and championships could be won – or lost – on engineering merit. Since 2007, we have been continuous participants in the American Le Mans Series under both the Acura and Honda Performance Development banners. HPD is the reigning American Le Mans Series LMP champion, having won class titles for the past three years. In 2012, HPD and its partner teams continue to take part in both LMP1 and LMP2 in the American Le Mans Series; and launched an ambitious multi-team prototype effort in the World Endurance Championship. We look forward to taking part in a new, combined North American road-racing series, featuring a defined rules package that maintains sports car racing’s traditional role as a technological leader and innovator.”