another score -
American Le Mans Series coming to Circuit of the Americas in 2013
Steve Nesius/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A super full moon rises over the back straight away during the 59th annual American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring auto race at the Sebring International Raceway Saturday, March 19, 2011 in Sebring,
By John Maher
Updated: 10:32 p.m. Friday, June 1, 2012
Published: 10:29 p.m. Friday, June 1, 2012
Starting next spring, the American Le Mans Series will race at Circuit of the Americas for at least the next three years, track officials said Friday.
The endurance sports car series, patterned after 24 Hours of Le Mans, becomes the third race series booked for the $300 million track being built in southeastern Travis County. The series joins the Formula One Grand Prix scheduled for November and the Australian V8 Supercars race slated for next year.
"Our vision is to bring premier sports and entertainment programming to Circuit of the Americas and to partner with motorsports organizations that put a premium on innovation, fan experience and environmental sustainability," said Steve Sexton, the circuit's president. "The American Le Mans Series — with its highly competitive, customer-focused programming and its well-known commitment to green racing — certainly fits that vision."
Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the series, said, "It's been a long time coming ... there is no question in our minds that Circuit of the Americas will be one of the finest road-racing venues not only in North America, but on a global scale."
Atherton added that his series should be a good fit for Austin, as it focuses on such issues as sustainability and alternative fuels.
"We pride ourselves on being the global leader of green racing, We embraced this many years ago before it was the politically correct thing to do," he said.
The series was created by Georgia businessman Don Pano and made its debut in 1999. Speeds can top 180 mph, and the competing cars include Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Lotus, Mazda and Porsche.
"What you see on the track today is what you see on the street tomorrow. That's part of the appeal," said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which last month was the site of the third stop on the series' 10-race calendar.
Campbell, in an interview earlier this year, said the race at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., typically draws 45,000 fans over three days.
American Le Mans Series races are contested on temporary street circuits or natural-terrain road courses.
"You'll never see us on an oval," Atherton said.
The series has been talking with Circuit of the Americas officials for more than a year. Speculation about an Austin race increased in April, when Paul DeJoria was announced as an investor in the circuit. While he is best known for Paul Mitchell hair care products, DeJoria also founded Patron Tequila, the title sponsor for the American Le Mans Series.
Campbell said the sports car series can be profitable for a track.
"We don't make a lot of money off it, but we make a little," she said. "Sports car racing fans are fickle. If there's no Audi, ticket sales are really flat."
The date for the Circuit of the Americas race — and the length of the event — will be set later this year.
Contact John Maher at 445-3956