What Teams Think of the GRAND-AM & ALMS Merger

Today’s landmark announcement of a 2014 merger between the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Series continues to generate reaction from inside and outside of race paddocks…

Sports car racing in North America is getting a makeover. Grand-Am and American Le Mans announced a merger Wednesday that will join them as one series beginning in 2014. Grand-Am founder Jim France and ALMS founder Don Panoz said in a joint statement at Daytona International Speedway that the new series will start with the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014 and likely include 12 races.

Bobby Rahal, co-owner, BMW Team RLL
“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.”

Alex Job, owner, Alex Job Racing
“We have been racing in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and International Motor Sports 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.”

Rob Dyson, team principal, Dyson Racing
“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 worldwide legitimacy. There are currently 12 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.”

Chris Dyson, VP and sporting director, Dyson Racing
“The best mergers strengthen. This combination has the potential to be a significant milepost in the history of sports car racing and to foster a period reminiscent of our sport’s glory days. The addition of GRAND-AM’s historic tracks to IMSA’s existing set of iconic tracks will only reinforce the appeal to fans, competitors and manufacturers. We are optimistic that with a continued emphasis on technical advancement, variety, high levels of on-track performance, close competition and a welcoming paddock atmosphere, unified sports car racing in North America is about to enter a new era – one of long-term strength. There are always challenges involved with change, but Dyson Racing will continue to work with all in our sport to ensure the strongest possible future.”

Jon Bennett, owner and founder, CORE autosport
“On behalf of CORE autosport, I would like to congratulate all parties that were involved in this historic sports car merger to create a unified series in 2014. It took the cooperation of true visionaries to create one strong new series out of the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM. The positives that will emerge from this unification will be felt by teams, drivers, sponsors, partners and most importantly, fans. The entire CORE autosport organization looks forward to continuing sports car competition at the highest level, and adding to our team and driver championships.”

Scott Sharp, team principal, Extreme Speed Motorsports
“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.

Ralph Gilles, President and 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.”

Pierre Fillon, President, Automobile Club de l’Ouest
“The merger of these two championships, which was carried out with the approval of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, has become necessary to enable endurance racing to continue to evolve. In 2014, this branch of the sport will have a bigger calendar and high-quality fields. Everybody will benefit from this unified series: entrants in North America, drivers and fans. This rapprochement proves that Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s assessment of the situation is the right one, and one of its major initiatives is to reinforce the presence of endurance racing on the international scene. The foundation consists of three continental series: the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series and this North American merger in 2014, which will make the base even stronger together with the FIA World Endurance Championship, while the summit of this pyramid remains the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’m happy to meet up with the new team directing this new series in the near future, and to start working with them on this North American Championship.”