ALMS and Grand Am Racing Come Together in Big, Messy Merger
[caption id="attachment_20668" align="aligncenter" width="593" caption="Photo Credit: ©2012 Darren Pierson/dPerceptions.com"][/caption] For racing fans in America that have no interest in NASCAR, it has been a tumultuous and hopeful past year. 2012 brought us the first Formula 1 race since 2007, and the potential for a second F1 race location in New Jersey. As for sportscar racing, all the talk had been surrounding a potential merger between the Rolex Grand-Am series and ALMS. For racing fans that despise watching a Toyota Camry go in circles, these are two of the best options to catch decent road course racing in America. Word recently came down that the two race series are merging in a maneuver that will have major implications on sportscar racing in America. For those non-racing types, ALMS or "American Le Mans Series" boasts prototype racecars and sportscars that are close to what you would find at an actual 24 hours of Le Mans race. Each prototype is unique and requires a decent-sized budget. Rolex24 and Grand-Am racing are (were) competing race series. The "Prototype" class are all very similar cars (we would call them "spec" racers) which keeps the budgets down, but also results in comparatively boring cars. This series also features a road-car-like GT class as well. They all come together now, in a major merger. Some classes are leaving us, others are being combined. It's all in the name of more visibility from a stronger series, and more money all around. Here's how it breaks down: LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) is gone, which is a major bummer. They were the best cars and the most fun to watch. The remaining ALMS prototype class, LMP2 will race, but separate from Grand-Am's prototype class. An ALMS Challenge series will remain, also as a separate class. As for road cars, or GT-class cars, Grand-AM and ALMS GT will continue to race, but as separate classes. Grand-Am also began to feature a new GX class, which will continue– also as a separate class. Frankly, it sounds like a big, fat mess. It was a necessary mess though; in order to compete with the popularity of NASCAR, the two racing series had to do something drastic. Unfortunately, the best racing class as eliminated, and no classes have merged at all. It will just be a large race, with many competitors. [caption id="attachment_20669" align="aligncenter" width="593" caption="Photo Credit: ©2012 Darren Pierson/dPerceptions.com"]
It should be noted that NASCAR created Grand-Am racing in 1999, right around the same time that ALMS was founded. You can see elements of NASCAR in the fact that all of the prototype vehicles are largely the same. If the Grand Am prototypes win out over the ALMS cars, it will be a true defeat for the progress of motorsport. Anyone who knows REAL racing knows that the ALMS prototypes are far more advanced than the Grand Am cars. Let us hope that race organizers recognize that, and that this merger helps to push forward the progress of auto racing in America.
Image source: ©2012 Darren Pierson/dPerceptions.com