So, let’s cut to the chase. Before you attend THE SportCar event of the year –the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas™ –it is crucial to understand the sport’s history, and more importantly, why it’s such a bucket list item for 2014, and years to come.
For those just joining us, we began our TUDOR United SportsCar Championship™ series exactly one month ago, and each week we’ve released new, one-of-a-kind history lessons on how the United SportsCar series was born and how it’s developed.
Thus far, the series has included the bitter Ford vs. Ferrari competition that helped elevate the two Florida races to international prestige in the 60’s, the debut of the IMSA GT Series in the 70’s, the exotic IMSA GTP Prototypes of the 80’s, and the World SportCar of the 90’s! It has been a ride we’ve ALL had to hold onto, but that makes it even better if you ask me!
A decade filled with new resolutions, new gym memberships and new SportsCar racing series. The split between GRAND-AM and ALMS originally began in 1998, when Daytona International Speedway decided to go with a new sanctioning body for the Rolex 24 At Daytona –the USRRC.
The following year was a case of different sanctioning bodies using similar cars. By the end of the year, Road Atlanta owner Dr. Don Panoz took a risk and held a 1,000 mile race known as the “Petit Le Mans.”
This new series was an immediate success! Panoz shared his future visions with new owners of Professional Sports Car Racing, who opted to rename its full season the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Within a few years, Panoz purchased and brought back the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)!
Say Hello to GRAND-AM
As mentioned before, Daytona ran the Rolex 24 under USRRC sanction in 1998-1999, but that series died only three races into the 1999 season. Jim France (son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.), put the pieces together of the failed USRRC and assembled a team of 25 investors to bring his vision of a new American sports car series alive.
According to IMSA.com, “With goals of capping costs, maintaining close competition and returning racing to the fans, GRAND-AM Road Racing was found!”
The GRAND-AM Rolex SportsCar Series debuted with the 2000 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and boy, was it a fierce race! The battle between the GTS class factory-backed Dodge Viper and Corvette had fans left under a spell. It was love at first sight! The Viper prevailed by only 30 seconds, which resulted in the closest finish in history at the time.
The remainder of the decade was filled with advancements, excitement and victories –lots of victories. Victory lane saw the GTS Corvette of Dale Earnhardt and his son Dale Jr., along with Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart, Christian Fittipaldi and car owner, Forest Barber, just to name a few!
According to IMSA.com, “That set the tone of the racing at Daytona for the following nine races. Large DP fields with as many as 29 cars, with the series regulars joined by familiar names from NASCAR, IndyCar and international sports car racing – even Formula One.”
The Merger and Lone Star Le Mans
The decade provided fantastic racing. However, missing the international glitz and glamour, France and Panoz got together to discuss unifying North American Sports Car Racing, which resulted in the merger in Sept. 2012. SportsCar fans all around the world are now able to enjoy both with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship!
Now that you have the inside scoop on the SportsCar Championship, how could it not be on your bucket list? You can be at the all new, inaugural Lone Star Le Mans race hosted by the award winning circuit, Circuit of The Americas, on Sept. 20, 2014! Be there to see one of the largest collections of world-class, professional SportsCar teams and drivers scheduled to race in North America, all in one day!
Through COTA Experiences you will be in the heart of the action during this ultmaite racing weekend! Your Official Ticket Packages grant you access to the Paddock Building, VIP experiences, transportation, hotel accommodations, and racing legend meet-and-greet with Townsend Bell!
So wait are you waiting for? It’s time COTA Experiences helps you knock Lone Star Le Mans off your bucket list!