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GRAND-AM Road Racing, American Le Mans Series Announce Historic Merger

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Plans for a landmark
merger of GRAND-AM Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS)
were unveiled Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

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Under terms of the merger, the following entities will combine with
GRAND-AM: the American Le Mans Series; the International Motor Sports
Association, which sanctions ALMS events; the Road Atlanta race track
facility in Braselton, Ga.; the Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center
in Sebring, Fla.; and Sebring International Raceway, via a reassignment
of the lease agreement with the Sebring Airport Authority to operate
the raceway.

 

Both sanctioning bodies will continue to operate separate schedules in
2013 before racing under one banner in 2014 – beginning with North
America’s premier sports car race, the 52nd annual Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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A board of directors has been formed to operate the new combined
organization with GRAND-AM founder Jim France as chairman and ALMS
founder Don Panoz as vice chairman. Other members include: NASCAR Vice
Chair/Executive Vice President Lesa France Kennedy, GRAND-AM
President/CEO Ed Bennett, ALMS President/CEO Scott Atherton and NASCAR
Vice President/Deputy General Counsel Karen Leetzow.

 

"Today’s announcement will transform sports car racing on this
continent, along with having worldwide industry implications," said
Bennett. "Aside from the organizations involved, everybody wins:
drivers, teams, manufacturers, sponsors, tracks – and most all, the
fans.

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"This new approach is going to be revolutionary, as we take the best
components from two premium brands, combine them and then benefit
mutually from the considerable resources both sides will bring to our
efforts. This is a bold move – and the right one – for the long-term,
optimum growth of sports car racing."

 

Atherton added, "This merger will blend the best assets and attributes
of each organization in terms of technical rules, officiating,
marketing, communications, personnel, scheduling and broadcasting. The
result will be one of the strongest, most competitive and powerful
motorsports marketing platforms in the world."

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Post-merger branding still is being determined for the new organization
and its principal series, as are specifics regarding the 2014 schedule.
Also, the competitive class structure and technical rules beginning in
2014 have yet to be finalized.

 

The ALMS began operations in 1999, with GRAND-AM debuting in 2000. Both
organizations were created in the aftermath of the late-’90s departure
of the highly popular IMSA Camel GT circuit in North America. IMSA was
founded in 1969 by John Bishop and then-NASCAR President Bill France Sr.

 

"This merger will strengthen professional sports car racing beyond what
either of our organizations could have achieved separately," said Panoz.
"The American Le Mans Series was founded for the fans and I’m
personally gratified that they will benefit greatly as we now work
together with GRAND-AM to take this sport to the level at which it
belongs in the North American and international motorsports landscapes."

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France said the merger was exciting both "on a professional and a
personal level, with me being a longtime sports car fan. This merger was
achieved through a true spirit of cooperation. Moving forward, that
same spirit will drive our day-to-day efforts."

 

Collectively, the merger involves a total of eight sports car series
racing throughout North America. GRAND-AM sanctions and operates the
Rolex Sports Car Series, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and
the TOTAL Performance Showcase. GRAND-AM also sanctions the Ferrari
Challenge, which is operated by Ferrari North America. IMSA is the
sanctioning body for the ALMS, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama
Series, the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series and the
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin.

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"This looks good from a business standpoint but it also ‘feels good’
from a historical standpoint," Bennett said. "Both GRAND-AM and the ALMS
have lineages tied to Daytona Beach, Daytona International Speedway and
the France Family. This announcement is a proud moment for all
involved, as we now look forward to a bright future for sports car
racing."

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