I hoped my days of crying for unification would end with the Champ Car/INDYCAR merger of 2008. While this merger didn?t solve all of American Open-Wheel racing?s problems, it solved the most important problems. Driver talent and financial resources are no longer divided between two series, new manufacturers are interested in investing in open-wheel racing, and no one has to give a confusing explanation as to what makes them different. The TV audience has not returned yet, but Rome was not built in a day, set on fire for twelve years, and rebuilt the next day. Now I am focused on the sports car racing split between American Le Mans and Grand-Am.
No one really has the happier origin story. IMSA was founded in part by Bill France Sr. and eventually hijacked by Don Panoz (whose claim to fame is inventing the nicotine patch) to promote the cars he built as a pet project. Grand-Am is NASCAR?s pet project to promote Daytona International Speedway.
Today the American Le Mans Series is struggling to get noticed on ESPN3.com (a move that is ground breaking, in that they?re digging their own grave), and the Rolex Sports Car Series is on what was originally planned as The NASCAR Channel and no one watches on TV or in person. Each series has an opposite approach to chassis design with ALMS copying the ACO?s rulebook and Grand-Am doing whatever it is NASCAR would do.
The advantage of a sports car merger over the open-wheel merger is that no one minds when there are lots of sports car classes in the race. Given the lack of depth in ALMS? GT1 class, allowing Daytona Prototypes (ugly as they are) to compete would create a nice bridge between LMP2 and LMGT2. ALMS? GT Challenge easily merges with Daytona GT. Le Mans Challenge can race on Friday or something.
Daytona needs to be a major international race again. Even if Sebring is the bigger race now, a line in a 2009 article from U.S. News & World Report gives us a fine example of where Sebring stands in the greater scheme: ?Besides?what's a sebring, anyway??
To read that complete article: http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_landing_pages/923/10-Cars-That-Sank-Detroit;_ylc=X3oDMTE4aGI2MDhuBF9TAzI3MTYxNDkEc2VjA2ZwLXRvZGF5BHNsawNzYW5rLWRldHJvaXQ-
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