UPS Game Changers: IMSA unites series, venues
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship moves to one of the country's most famous street course venues in Long Beach, Calif. in two weeks, fresh off a historic showing at iconic Sebring [Fla.] International Raceway for the 62nd running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
What started on the famed Daytona International Speedway high banks in February's Rolex 24 and ends with the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta in October features a highlight reel of high-profile stops at America's top road course venues in between -- from Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Laguna Seca in California. These showcase venues are a huge benefit for the newly unified sports car series.
The merger between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series is a game-changing moment in the sport and looks to provide many more big moments thanks to the luxury of selecting the 12 very best race sites from both series former schedules.
The most iconic tracks in the most significant media and business markets comprise the 2014 slate with the full intention of adding to it in 2015.
That quite naturally attracts teams, corporate sponsors, international media attention and the world's top car manufacturers. And it's also becoming a must-race destination for the world's top drivers, who recognize the new era in sports car racing. And want to be a part of it.
"IndyCar showed when you split, it's bad for everybody," said longtime sports car driver Boris Said. "I think to finally have GRAND-AM be together with ALMS and to have NASCAR running it is huge.
"It just really looks like the economy is back on track and the future has never looked brighter (for sports cars).
"One thing I know about Jim France, he'll get it right. We just need to walk before we run. I wish I was 30 years old again because I think the future for sports car racing has never looked this bright."
Trackside at Sebring earlier this month, France surveyed the new look series and gave it two thumbs up. It was the first time the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Chairman had been at the facility for the 12-hour race in years, and it turned out to be one of his former GRAND-AM Series teams, Chip Ganassi Racing, that won in its first race there -- an opportunity existing because of the merger and merged schedule.
"It's just wonderful being here," France said. "We've got a record crowd, great race and happy to be here."
"It's everything we had hoped it would be."
And only the beginning.