Petit Le Mans marks end of road for American Le Mans



1:45-2 p.m.: Qualifying, ALMS (GTC)

2:05-2:20 p.m.: Qualifying, ALMS (GT)

2:30-2:45 p.m.: Qualifying, ALMS (PC)

2:50-3:05 p.m.: Qualifying, ALMS (P1/P2)

3:30-5:00 p.m.: Race, K&N Pro Series (90-minute race window)


9:15-9:40 a.m.: Warm up, ALMS (All Classes)

10:00-11:30 a.m.: Prerace Activities, ALMS

11:30 a.m.: Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda for ALMS (Round 10) - 1,000 miles or 10 hours

This weekend’s 16th running of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton marks the end of the road for the American Le Mans Series, the sports-car circuit formed in 1998 by Braselton businessman Don Panoz.

After this weekend’s ALMS season finale, the circuit will merge with NASCAR’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

For veteran sports-car racers such as Anthony Lazzaro of Acworth, who ran some of his earliest races at Road Atlanta and will run this weekend in the P2 class as a teammate to Scott Sharp and David Brabham, the contributions of Panoz and the ALMS have been a blessing to the sports-car world and to Road Atlanta.

“Don Panoz brought big crowds and major races back to my home track,” Lazzaro said, adding that he’s also glad to see Panoz merge his series with NASCAR’s sports-car circuit. “The sport is better off with one series, and with the merger, Petit will be bigger than ever.”

Merger or no merger, Petit is one of the marquee events in the world of sports-car racing. The 10-hour, 1,000-mile endurance run on a challenging, historic track, attracts drivers, fans and attention from around the globe.

As always, the season finale features not only an expanded starting field, but a race-within-the-race for the series championships, with four of the five driver titles — in GT, P2, GTC and PC — still undecided.

In the elite P1 class, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr have dominated their division and enter Petit having won eight consecutive races, losing only the season opener at Sebring, Fla., and securing the championship weeks ago. Luhr also will seek to finish the ALMS schedule with an even 50 career wins, as his victory earlier this month at Virginia International Raceway was his 49th in the series.

In the P2 class, Scott Tucker has seven victories, the most recent at VIR, and holds a six-point leader over Lazzaro’s teammate Scott Sharp entering Saturday’s finale.

Other local drivers entered in Petit include GT driver Bryan Sellers of Auburn, who will join Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Dane Cameron of Buford will team with PC points leader Mike Guasch in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Molecule ORECA FLM09.

Saturday’s race also will mark the final appearance of the Corvette C6.R GT racer. Beginning next year, Corvette Racing will field a new C7.R.

Like Luhr in the driving category, Corvette Racing will end its ALMS run as the leading team winner. Its 82 victories are tops among race teams, and it has 54 1-2 finishes and 64 fastest qualifiers, both series records as well.

Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen are atop the division standings heading into Petit.