ACO: American Le Mans Series Announced
5 June 1998LE MANS, France -- The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) President Michel Cosson and Don Panoz, founder, Panoz Motor Sports, are proud to announce a license agreement between the ACO and Panoz that allows Panoz to create the American Le Mans Series, a new U.S. racing series featuring the world's highest technology sports cars such as those in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All trademarks and copyrights of the American Le Mans Series are held by Panoz.
The American Le Mans Series will be run under current ACO rules with adjustments for parity between Le Mans, FIA and US sports cars.
It is proposed that there will be up to 11 races in the American Le Mans Series schedule of varying length. Venues may include Sebring, Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Road America, Mosport, Portland, and Laguna Seca. The culmination of the series will be at the Petit Le Mans, a 1000-mile race held at Road Atlanta. This format provides for the reinstatement of the Endurance Cup and bonus fund, which would be based on the Sebring 12 Hours, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans, and an American endurance race to be determined.
In this series, WSC, Can-Am, and LMP cars (open) and GT1 cars will run together and GT2 and GT3 cars will run together. This format will provide the opportunity for different classes to take overall wins. The purse for all races will be $200,000 to $350,000 (US), with a potential $2,000,000 (US) Endurance Cup bonus to be distributed at the end of the year.
Michel Cosson, ACO president, is hopeful that all prominent American road racing circuits will take part in this series. "We hope the Endurance Cup is reestablished," he said.
"I'm excited about this new series," said Don Panoz. "This gives new and old sports car racing fans numerous opportunities to see the most advanced sports cars in the world without traveling all the way to Europe or Japan. The Le Mans experience will come to the U.S. and the teams and fans will benefit."
"This is a great day for North American sports car racing," said Wayne Taylor, driver of the Doyle-Risi Ferrari 333SP. "I'd like to thank Don Panoz and the ACO for giving the competitors a chance to bring professional sports car racing back to the U.S.."
BMW is optimistic about the announcement of the American Le Mans Series. "We strongly support the unification of sports car racing in the U.S. and believe that the formation of this proposed internationally recognized race series is a positive step in this direction," said Richard Brekus of BMW North America. "We look forward to the opportunity for our racing customers to compete on an equal basis with the world's most advanced sports cars using our previously announced production based 4.0L V8 racing engine."
Gabriel Cadringher, president, FIA Manufacturers' Commission, is also supportive of this new series. "We are encouraged by the announcement of this new series," he said, "and we are hopeful that this will encourage unity in U.S. sports car racing."
Each race in the American Le Mans Series would be patterned after the original in France. The race weekend will begin with entrant scrutineering in a metropolitan exhibition hall or convention center, complete with autograph and photo sessions with the teams and drivers. This would allow fans access to the cars up close and an opportunity to meet the drivers. On Friday there will be a fashion show benefiting a local charity. Saturday will feature a celebrity race, other support races, and practice and qualifying for the American Le Mans races. On Sunday, the featured American Le Mans Series race would take place.
LICENSE, TRADEMARK, COPYRIGHT
Up to 11 proposed events of varying length. Possible venues include Sebring, Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Road America, Mosport, Portland, and Laguna Seca. The culmination of the series will be at the Petit Le Mans, a 1000-mile race held at Road Atlanta.
Charity Fashion Show
Currently being negotiated for U.S. and International.
Teams and manufacturers who wish to compete in a series of races patterned after the 24 Hours of Le Mans rules and weekend format including three U.S. endurance races leading up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
ACO rules with adjustments for parity between FIA and U.S. sports cars. Alain Bertaut, vice president-sports, ACO, will lead the rules committee.
Currently seeking unification of U.S. sports car sanctioning between SPORTS CAR and the SCCA's USRRC. If not unified, all American Competition Committee of the United States (ACCUS) member clubs will be solicited.
WORLD ENDURANCE CUP
Participants in the four endurance races within the American Le Mans Series (Sebring 12 Hours, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans, and an American endurance race to be determined) will compete for $2 million (US) in bonus money. $1 million (US) is offered to the overall winner of 3 of 4 endurance events, and $600,000 (US) is offered to the winner of 3 of 4 endurance races within the GT1 or WSC/LMP1 classes. $300,000 (US) is offered to the winner of 3 of 4 GT2 class events, and $100,000 (US) is offered to the GT3 American Le Mans Series points winner.
Range will be $200,000 - $350,000 (US) per race.