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A Work In Progress

A work in progress.  That sums up this latest announcement from Daytona.  Much like Scott Atherton was (in)famous for his “if you knew what I knew”, it appears as if the new merged efforts are adapting a new phrase – a work in progress.

Is that bad?  No.  It just means that they’re not ready to yet make any announcements.  This merger is a complicated matter, just from the competitive side – it’s made more difficult from the commercial sides of both the Grand Am and the ALMS.

It would be one thing to simply dictate things from what works best from the competitive side of things, but what about the partners.  Continental Tires, a major supporter of the Grand Am was mentioned multiple times in the announcement, as wanting to be a part of the future.  But it might be a different game in open tire competition for them.  With GT (ALMS) staying intact, it should be assumed that Michelin and Falken can and will be a part of the future.  Dunlop, who chose to step out of this, is no longer a part of the discussion – does that leave the door open for somebody else to step in, such as Goodyear?

Fuel regs too are something that is a big question mark.  Both series have marched to different drummers thus far.  It is the task of the management to get the two series in step for the future.  This too is a work in progress.

A good thing in my perspective is the stated intention to keep ties in place with the ACO.  While the ALMS/ACO relationship in the past has been seen as somewhat troubled, it is important to keep the world perspective in place for sportscar racing here in North America.  We don’t need another standalone racing series in place – we had that with the Grand Am, and it really didn’t work as well as was hoped.

So what do we know so far?  We know that there has been a pretty good containment process in place to prevent any news leaks, but honestly what was announced this morning (North American West Coast Time) was not a surprise.  (What was a surprise was to see the announcement in the email box half an hour before the press conference)  To most, it should be considered neither good nor bad news.  It is simply news that was expected.  P1 – gone.  P2 and DP are to be balanced together, with PC staying in place as a separate and secondary Prototype class.  ALMS GT will be a standalone class, with Grand Am GT and ALMS GT coming together to form a fourth class.  GX – TBD, or in all reality, it too is a work in progress.  Basically what we have here is an attempt to keep as many of the competitors (minus P1) in the game.  Don’t upset any of the competitors.  Let them run what they have for the next 3 years at least.  For those that like the two class structure of the Grand Am – forget about that, at least for now.

All of what they are trying to accomplish is great – getting there will be tough.  To achieve what they want, they mentioned keeping P2 as is, meaning ACO compliant, and then speeding up the DP cars to equal.  That means change and more money for those wishing to continue with the DP type cars, which are already reportedly more expensive to campaign than the cost constrained P2 cars.  As it stood, the DP class cars would require some improvements speed wise to keep a reasonable distance from the ALMS GT cars.  Are the 4th generation DP cars coming soon?  This doesn’t even bring the Deltawing into the equation.  How will that fit in?  Consider it work in progress.

Probably the most telling aspect of the announcement though is the comments that it was only the 2014 and 2015 seasons that was discussed.  These are to be interim or transitional years.  It will likely be 2016 before things really settle.  By then, who knows what the picture could be.

To put today’s announcement into baseball terms, was the announcement today a home run?  No way, but it wasn’t a game ending double play.  It was instead maybe an early inning sacrifice that scored a run.  It could be meaningful later in the game, but also again maybe not. Time will tell.

For now, it is simply a work in progress.  You better get used to that!

Gary Horrocks