It was announced from Daytona Beach that America's two major competing sports car racing associations will merge. American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand-Am will merge as a single sanctioning body for the 2014 season (source - NASCAR).
NASCAR, which owns Grand-Am, will purchase Panoz Motor Sports Group who are the owners of ALMS. Each series will run the rest of their schedules this year and next before officially merging the two associations into one. A title for the new series has not yet been determined.
Tequila Patron is the current title sponsor for ALMS, while Rolex is the Grand-Am title sponsor. There's no information of whom if any partnership will be retained for the new series.
Another merger like five years ago
For those of us who follow all of motorsports, this certainly harkens back five years ago when IndyCar and ChampCar also merged to form one series. It was a bloody fight along the way and the sport took a beating but is finally starting to see some benefits from the merger even during these recessional times.
Undoubtedly, the battle to differentiate must have been a salient part of the reasoning behind this merger. I have found often that casual race fans had absolutely no clue as to what a Grand-Am was in deference to ALMS. In fact, some race fans of other forms of motorsports wouldn't know the difference. That can't help when dealing with sponsors and partnerships, let alone attracting fans.
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) will also be acquired by NASCAR. IMSA sanctions several different racing series' across the country.
It's also not known which tracks will stay on the new schedule and which ones won't continue. Grand-Am currently has 13 races on its schedule while ALMS has 10 events.
The two series' are more different than most would realize. Grand-Am has a multitude of combinations for engine and custom chassis match-ups, while ALMS relies heavily on auto manufacturers as their signature with European influence.
The exhale you hear? That's the sports car world in North America giving a sigh of relief.
Sources - ALMS, Grand-Am, NASCAR
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Panoz Motor Sports Group