The End of an Era – The Beginning of an Era

Last week at Road America we saw both the past and the promise of a new future for sports car racing in the US. The race at Elkhart saw the first, only and last time that GrandAm cars and American Le Mans cars would compete on the same circuit on the same weekend. It was fitting that this one time pairing would come on one of the greatest road racing circuits in the US, the demanding 4-mile historic circuit of Road America.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the event and the crowds were large and enthusiastic. Hotels were full, campgrounds were full and most importantly, Siebkens Bar was full.

We saw a number of firsts and lasts at Road America during the race weekend. We saw the first class win for the new Dodge Viper team, the first race laps led by the radical new Deltawing prototype and the last American Le Mans P1 champions crowned when Klas Graf and Lucas Luhr won the race.

Speaking of P1 champions, there was a lot of talk in the paddock about Lucas Luhr and Muscle Milk trying out the Izod IndyCar series, with Lucas getting his first drive at Sonoma later this month. The newly crowned 5 time ALMS champion told me he is looking forward to the challenge of IndyCar racing and team principal Greg Pickett expressed his enthusiasm about Muscle Milk trying a new racing venue.

In both the GrandAm and American Le Mans paddocks, teams are anxiously awaiting the announcement of next year’s United Sports Car rules package, just as track owners and promoters are anxiously awaiting the announcement of next year’s schedule.

With Fox Sports 1 (formerly known as Speed) onboard for a new multi-year deal with IMSA, I think we can look forward to the future growth of the new unified sports car venture.

So, Road America last week was a little bit of an ending, and hopefully the positive sign of a new beginning as sports car racing in the US does what it has always done – continue to evolve.

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