Four Pillars of The Future
Happy New Year! By the time you read this, hopefully you’ve read the announcement of the conceptual class structure for the new unified series (beginning in 2014). And hopefully you are pleased by the news.
If you missed it – here are the classes that will race in ’14: The top prototype category will be made up of GRAND-AM Daytona Prototypes and ALMS P2 cars, performance adjusted to race competitively with each other. We will have a second prototype category made up of what is today the ALMS Prototype Challenge class. The top GT category will be what is today the ALMS GT class with a second GT category made up of today’s Rolex GT class. Since no track data exists for the new GRAND-AM GX class, its classification is TBD.
GX could be blended into an existing GT class or run in its own. We have a full ’13 GRAND-AM season ahead of us to observe the performance of the cars, acquire the data and make an informed classification decision.
The overriding priority behind the 2014 class decisions was to be as inclusive as possible. In other words, the goal was to keep as many cars currently competing in the ALMS and GRAND-AM eligible and viable for competition in ’14 with minimal changes/expense required. The class structure as announced provides a stable future for approximately 96 percent of the current combined ALMS/GRAND-AM grids. The early responses from both GRAND-AM and ALMS teams are very favorable.
The release of this information to the teams, media and public at the Roar Before The 24 GRAND-AM test fulfilled a commitment to get this important first step in unifying the two Series’ sorted and announced around the new year. Confirming what the racing classes will be represents the first of what I believe are the four pillars that are required to merge together and successfully launch a new, unified professional sportscar racing platform in ’14. Hats off to IMSA COO Scot Elkins, GRAND-AM Managing Director of Competition Richard Buck and their technical teams for tackling this monumental task and hitting the marks of getting it announced right on schedule.
I know some of you may be disappointed by the news that the current P1 category will not feature in the 2014 plans. I too am a big fan of the P1 cars and have stood by many a race track fence and stared in awe as these ferocious cars have screamed around the road courses of North America. And with that said, while I am very proud of the class structure that will be in place when the unified series debuts in 2014 – and firmly believe it will produce incredibly exciting and competitive racing in every class – I think it is important for everyone to understand we are taking a long-range approach to everything we are doing. And what I mean by that is what we open up with for ’14 and ‘15 does not necessarily represent the ultimate destination into which this new platform will evolve. The focus for ’14 and ’15 is inclusion, but the long-range plan is still to be written.
But, back to the four pillars of our immediate future success…
If the class structure announcement was pillar No. 1, the confirmation of the new name, logo and overall branding elements is pillar No. 2. The “Name The Future” fan contest was exceptionally well received with more than 7,500 creative submissions. It is an enormous task to sort through our fans’ suggestions for the new unified series name – and then create a dynamic new logo and all the related branding elements around it, but it’s one of the most important initiatives we have and we are taking it VERY seriously. Like everything associated with this merger/unification process, the commitment in all of us is unwavering to put whatever is required into getting it right – the first time. When it comes to something as important as the new name and logo there is no such thing as a do-over. So when is all this going to break cover you ask? I believe we will be in a position to pull the wraps off our new name and logo - along with what we will call the individual competition classes - around the time we gather for the 61st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida in March.
With the class structures in place and the new name and logo announced, the third “pillar” will be to establish the 2014 schedule. Soon after that we will add the fourth and final pillar which will involve us going to market with our plans for television and digital coverage of the new unified series.
There is a tremendous amount of work that’s been done by many very talented people from “both sides of the aisle” (as my friend and GRAND-AM President, Ed Bennett, likes to say) to get us to where we are today. But, candidly, there is much more to be done to ensure that the end result of this unprecedented merger produces a professional sports car racing platform that is truly optimized by every measure. The best news I can report is that the level of cooperation and mutual support that exists between the GRAND-AM and IMSA/ALMS staffs is nothing short of remarkable. I hope everyone is taking note of such things as Paul Walter’s recent confirmation as Race Director for both GRAND-AM and ALMS in ’13. The PR, marketing, operations and TV staffs of the ALMS also were working side-by-side with their GRAND-AM peers at the Roar Before The 24 and will be again at the race – as will be the case in reverse at Sebring in March. If you had your doubts about this being a real “merger” when the news was first announced – I hope the actions you are witnessing are speaking much louder than any words to the contrary.
One-by-one we are putting the time, resources and passion into confirming the details surrounding the four pillars of our future. We are taking the time required to get it right so this becomes a “no excuses” success. We realize there is much to be done and 2014 is right around the corner. We won’t let you down.
Thank you for taking the time to catch-up on our progress. And please continue to provide us with your feedback. The crafting of the future of sportscar racing in North America is well underway and your input continues to be wanted and appreciated.
I hope to see you at Daytona and Sebring in the not distant future.
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