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Shared Weekends? The Grande Dame on the Sports Car Schism Print
Written by Katrina Flood   
May 04, 2009 at 06:26 PM

Katrina weighed in with this "modest proposal" in early April. Some  of the background noise coming from the paddocks in Connecticut and Alabama this past weekend suggest we might want to read it again.-Editor-

For the Fans … and the promoters … and the teams … and the sponsors.

By Katrina Flood

The  motorsports economy has tanked; both Grand-Am and the ALMS are not doing nearly as well as they could, and the fans are left with watered-down, mediocre products.

A merger of the two major sports car racing series is not feasible, and neither will admit it wants to even consider this possibility.  And in all honesty, they have become so different in their rules, it really isn’t realistic.

But the race fans could be getting a much better show if the two parties would at least agree to run a few joint events.  It would be a win-win situation for the fans, teams, sponsors and tracks, albeit some egos would be deflated now and then on each side.

This is NOT a marriage - this is just “living together” for a couple years to see what happens.

Scott A. and Roger E., are you listening?  Will Dr. P and the France family allow such thinking outside the box?  Will the NASCAR bunch be willing to have their DPs blown away by the much faster LMP1’s.  Will the ALMS be willing to put its depleted fields on the same stage as the more robust Grand-Am entry?

It would be fantastic for the sport.

The plan below allows some interesting mingling of the two series without any merging (in the near future, anyway). After two years, they both can walk away and say “I told you so.” Or they can proceed down a road that will benefit everyone.

Here is the plan:

2010

1. ALMS GT class cars invited to run [their own points race] in the Daytona Rolex 24 Hours.
2. Grand-Am DPs invited to run [their own points race] at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
3. Two events during the season (to be determined, but Watkins Glen, Road America, Mid-Ohio and Mosport are good candidates) will be doubleheaders, with ALMS the feature on one of those dates, and Grand-Am the feature on the other.  Both sanctioning bodies will lower their sanction fees for the promoters at those events to make it viable.
4. Other scheduled races for each series not mentioned above remain separate events.

2011

1.  ALMS GT cars again run in the Rolex 24.
2.  Grand-Am DP’s  again run in Sebring 12 Hour.
3. Both series combine to run all classes together at Watkins Glen 6 Hours and Petit Le Mans, but they are treated as two separate races running together.
4. Four doubleheader events. Each series the “feature” twice.
5. Other scheduled races for each series not mentioned above remain separate events.

At the end of the 2011 season, both series meet to decide to:
A. Merge.
B. Abandon the idea and go separate ways.
C. Continue with the 2010 or 2011 format.

So that is the basic idea. Now here are some particulars:

Each series will remain totally separate in terms of point standings, technical rules, qualifying and pit lane procedures.

At Daytona and Sebring, the “visiting series” must also use series logo and sponsor decals of the host series. At those events, each visiting series will bring all support necessary for its own tech, PR, operations and logistics. Host series will produce timing & scoring.

Victory lanes will be separate, although an “overall podium” at combined races will honor the top three, regardless of which series they come from.

At combined races, Television will be the responsibility of the hosting series. At doubleheader events, each series will determine its own television package.

At combined events, fan events such as autograph sessions will be combined whenever logistically possible.

Race control procedures, pit lane procedures, safety issues, etc. will be determined at meetings held prior to the season. “Neutral” officials from another sanctioning organization such as the SCCA may be utilized at this meeting, and at combined events, to help smooth out any logistical differences bound to arise.

Should we lock Scott A. and Roger E. in a room and make them consider this proposal? Or are we destined to just think about “what could have been.”

Kat

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