American Le Mans Series
The Elite Sports Car Series
Conceived by entrepreneur Don Panoz and based on the format and rules of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series has become the world’s premier sports car series in just 12 years.
What Makes it Unique?
The American Le Mans Series, like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has multiple classes of cars racing on the track at the same time, making for exciting passing and confrontations throughout the race.
Each car has two drivers (three for the longer endurance races) who can switch during the course of the race.
The standard “timed race” is 2:45 and not based on laps. The car leading at the 2:45 lap wins. Five of the 10 races in 2005 were 2:45. The 2010 race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a six hour race and the street race at Long Beach is 1:40. There is also the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petite Le Mans, which is typically 10 hours, or 1,000 miles whichever is first.
The Big Differentiator
The American Le Mans Series has established itself as the Global Leader in Green Racing. It is the only major race series in the world that races on multiple alternative “street legal” fuels and/or powertrains: low sulfur clean diesel, (cellulosic) E85, E10 and Gas/E10-electric hybrid. “Street Legal” refers to virtually the same fuels that the consumer can purchase at the service station.
In January 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with SAE International, declared the American Le Mans Series the only series that met their protocols for “green racing.” The group also created the world’s first Green Challenge in which all race cars compete at each event in a race-within-a-race environmental competition where cars are ranked according to overall performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact.
About the Drivers
The Series features the best sports car drivers from around the world. Many of the drivers hail from Europe where sports car racing is dominant; however, there are many great American drivers as well, such as Scott Sharp, Patrick Long, Johnny O’Connell, Butch Leitzinger and Johannes van Overbeek.
The American Le Mans Series is one of the fastest growing sports entities in the world. It averages nearly 80,000 fans per race weekend and its worldwide television audience is approximately 650 million households. Domestic telecasts are by ABC, NBC and Speed TV.
The Series competes on America’s premier road courses that are steeped in sports car history and tradition. Circuits such as Sebring, Lime Rock, Road America, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in addition to the Long Beach Grand Prix street race, host the Series.
What’s the Difference?
There are primarily four major styles of racing in the U.S. – stock car, open-wheel, drag racing and sports car racing.
For the Fans
The American Le Mans Series prides itself on its fan-friendly approach. No other major race series allows its fans to be on the starting grid–The Open Grid–just minutes before the green flag drops. Fans may also attend the driver autograph sessions, team tech talks, driver chats, fan forums and have open access to the team paddock. These are all designed to make the Series the most fan-friendly Series in the U.S.
What About the Demographics?
The American Le Mans Series has the highest demographic following in regularly televised sports (Nielsen Media Research) with many of its fans driving or aspiring to have the exotic sports cars that race in the Series. The median income of the average fan is $125,000 with nearly a quarter having a net worth exceeding $1,000,000.
How Many Marques/Manufacturers Race in the Series?
The American Le Mans Series has more auto manufacturers involved than any other race series in the world. They include Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Mazda, Panoz, Porsche and Peugeot.
Is the 24 Hours of Le Mans Part of the Series?
No. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a single, standalone event organized and operated by the Automobile Club de L’Quest (ACO) in France. It is the oldest and most famous auto race in the world and in 1999 was the genesis of the American Le Mans Series. Many top American Le Mans Series teams race at Le Mans every year.