United SportsCar schedule released; 2014 IndyCar schedule begins to take shape

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on September 20, 2013 2:39 pm
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The inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule was released today and features 12 events, two in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Sports cars and IndyCars will continue two race together in 2014 at the storied Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will see its 40th running next year, on April 11-13. And in a nod to the importance of the Detroit event to manufacturers on both sides of the fence, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is confirmed as a shared event to run from May 30 to June 1.

Both events will see select classes missing from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship line-ups due to the extra time required for all four classes to run in one weekend under the combined series format next season. The GT Daytona class will skip the weekend at Long Beach, and the GT Le Mans class will not be present at Detroit.

One point of note that is not a direct conflict but will undoubtedly have an impact: the  TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a permanent road course located an hour outside of Toronto, will take place on July 13, just one week before the Honda Indy Toronto will race a double-header weekend through the streets of Exhibition Place. Some fans are already seeing this as an opportunity for an extended racing vacation, but there certainly also need to be concerns that two major events may place a strain on the Toronto market.

Tracks that are notably absent from an open-wheel perspective from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule include Barber Motorsports Park, which had been a combined event for IndyCar with GRAND-AM, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (ALMS ran in combination with IndyCar there for several years but not in 2013; it’s a shame that it appears major league sports cars will not be present at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the foreseeable future). Other tracks dropped include Lime Rock Park and the newly built Kansas Speedway roval.

The full release from IMSA, the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, is below.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2013) – Continuing its commitment to revolutionize sports car racing in North America, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced a 12-race schedule for the 2014 debut season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship starting with the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26.

“We have created a premium schedule for sports car fans, taking our new championship to some of the best road racing facilities in North America,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “Our event lineup also underscores the cooperative spirit of the merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS). The ‘best of both worlds’ approach, our shared guidepost throughout the merger process, is certainly evident when you look at the 2014 schedule.

“We had many interested parties but for 2014, we only considered facilities from our 2013 Rolex Series and ALMS schedules. That was in fairness to our existing track partners, who have been such strong supporters of both series. The first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season will feature iconic tracks deeply rich in history. We are very proud of this group of 12 facilities which have been selected for the inaugural season.”

Illustrating the post-merger synergy is the fact that the 2014 lineup features four race tracks currently on the Rolex Series schedule, four that are on the current ALMS schedule and four that are on both series’ 2013 slates.

In addition, preseason test sessions have been set for Nov. 16-17 at Sebring International Raceway and Nov. 19-20 at Daytona International Speedway. The test sessions will be open to all four classes of cars that will compete in the new championship: Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona. Session schedules will be announced in the near future.

The 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule rundown:

  • Jan. 25-26: Daytona International Speedway  The 52nd running of the Rolex 24 will be perhaps the most significant sports car race in the history of North America, as the debut event for the new championship.
  • March 15 Sebring International Raceway … The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida – North America’s oldest sports car race – will be run for the 62nd time. … For the first time since 1998, the Daytona and Sebring endurance classics will be part of the same series and under the same sanctioning (IMSA). … Previously the ALMS’ premier event.
  • April 12 Long Beach  Longtime ALMS street race again in conjunction with IZOD IndyCar Series. … Prototype and GT Le Mans classes will compete in one of the largest and most important consumer markets (Southern California) for nearly all TUDOR United SportsCar Championship stakeholders.
  • May 4 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca … Historic Monterey, California circuit considered hallowed ground for sports car racing. … On both series’ schedules this season.
  • May 31: Detroit Belle Isle … Also a companion street-race event to IndyCar. … Will feature the Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes. … The Rolex Series has raced at Detroit the last two years; previously, the ALMS was part of the Detroit weekend. The “Motor City” is home to many of the auto manufacturers participating in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship plus numerous supplier partners.
  • June 29: Watkins Glen International … The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen endurance event in Watkins Glen, New York has been a staple on the Rolex Series schedule. … Event started in 1968 and for many years was part of IMSA’s former Camel GT Series.
  • July 13: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park … Historic Bowmanville, Ontario circuit – currently amid a massive renovation project – is retained from the ALMS schedule.
  • July 25: Indianapolis Motor Speedway … Brickyard Grand Prix will again join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend for third consecutive year, with Friday-at-dusk finish. … Previous two years was part of Rolex Series schedule.
  • Aug. 10: Road America … Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track has been on both ALMS and Rolex Series schedules. … Hosted historic event this season when both series raced there on the same weekend.
  • Aug. 24: Virginia International Raceway … Danville, Virginia track has fervent fan following and an ALMS race next month. … Formerly part of the Rolex Series schedule. … Event will have a combined GT Le Mans/GT Daytona race and another race featuring the Prototype Challenge class.
  • Sept. 20: Circuit of The Americas … Spectacular year-old road racing facility in Austin, Texas hosted the Rolex Series in the spring this season and is hosting the ALMS and FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend.
  • Oct. 4: Road Atlanta … The Petit Le Mans, traditional 10-hour or 1,000 mile ALMS season finale at the storied Braselton, Georgia road course. … Event will retain its status as a link with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With three circuits (Long Beach, Detroit Belle Isle and Virginia International Raceway) on the 2014 schedule not having all four TUDOR United SportsCar Championship classes competing, each class (Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona) will race 11 times next season.

“This is, without a doubt, the best sports car schedule in the history of North America,” said IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton. “When we announced the merger plans last year, we immediately envisioned a dream schedule, one that our industry and, most importantly, our fans would embrace. Although it wasn’t easy, we feel like we have arrived at just that. There were so many options to consider and we could have added more events, but we had to ensure that we didn’t over-tax our industry. So, we stuck to our plan of going with the ‘best of the best’ and capped the lineup at 12 events.

“This lineup will have it all – historic road courses, major market street circuits and two of the most spectacular superspeedways in the world, Daytona and Indy. And it also will have the continent’s new jewel – Circuit of the Americas. Overall, a dream schedule, indeed.”

2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Schedule

Date                             Event

Jan 25-26                      Daytona International Speedway

Mar 15                          Sebring International Raceway

Apr 12                          Long Beach Street Circuit

May 4                           Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

May 31                         Detroit Belle Isle

Jun 29                          Watkins Glen International

Jul 13                           Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Jul 25                           Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Aug 10                          Road America

Aug 24                          Virginia International Raceway

Sep 20                          Circuit of The Americas

Oct 4                            Road Atlanta

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