11-19-1998, 07:42 AM
News release from the American LeMans Series Website;<p>November 18, 1998<p> Le Mans Coming to Sears Point Raceway<p> SONOMA, CA -- Sleek, high-speed prototype race cars will tackle<br> the twisting Sears Point road course next summer as the<br> newly-formed American Le Mans Series makes its first-ever<br> Northern California appearance, July 23-25, 1999.<p> The Sonoma race, which will be broadcast live on NBC, is one of<br> eight events to be featured in the American Le Mans Series<br> inaugural season. The series will offer professional sports car<br> racing patterned after the popular 24 Hours of Le Mans with<br> competitors which are expected to include Porsche, Ferrari,<br> BMW, Audi and Panoz along with racing models of the Chevrolet<br> and Dodge.<p> The event will complement an already diverse 1999 schedule at<br> Sears Point, which includes NASCAR Winston Cup and NHRA<br> drag racing along with AMA motorcycles and vintage auto races.<br> The announcement comes on the heels of the highly successful<br> Petit Le Mans held at Road Atlanta (GA) last month, which<br> attracted 40,000 fans and viewers from more than 75 countries.<p> "Sears Point Raceway has a proud tradition of hosting the best in<br> sports car racing," said raceway president Steve Page. "The<br> American Le Mans Series has structured a terrific racing package<br> that will bring Northern California fans outstanding<br> international-level competition."<p> The high-profile series has already secured a seven-race broadcast<br> package with NBC including three live broadcasts on the primary<br> network. The season will begin in March with the 12 Hours of<br> Sebring and conclude with a fall race through the streets of San<br> Diego.<p> The sports cars will be governed by rules and specifications under<br> license from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which<br> organizes and sanctions the 24 Hours of Le Mans.<p> "Sears Point is an ideal place for us to run," said Bill Donaldson,<br> executive director of the American Le Mans Series. "The<br> Speedway Motorsports organization is executing aggressive plans<br> to upgrade the facility and the San Francisco market is a strong<br> one for sports car interest."<p> The July 23-25 event weekend will also feature a number of support<br> races including the Women's Global GT Series and the<br> SuperStars of Auto Racing Series. All races will run on the<br> 12-turn, 2.52-mile Sears Point road course.<p> The SuperStars Race will feature many top drivers of years past,<br> drawing a field from a preliminary list that includes Indianapolis 500<br> champions Tom Sneva, Johnny Rutherford and Gordon Johncock,<br> and Formula One champion Sir Jack Brabham. All will race in<br> identically prepared cars. Indy 500 veteran Lyn St. James will head<br> the women's series.<p> The creation of the American Le Mans Series was announced last<br> June as part of a licensing agreement reached by ACO president<br> Michael Cosson and Don Panoz. The ALMS series will be<br> sanctioned by Professional Sports Car Racing.