Scott Atherton In Europe
Panoz Motorsports and ALMS CEO Scott Atherton – who freely
admits that he and his staff have never worked so hard as they have
done this year – has just completed a flying visit to Europe,
to attend three events, in two countries.
“The LMES Awards
Dinner on Friday, the Race of Champions event on Saturday, and the
AUTOSPORT Awards tonight.”
were Scott Atherton’s words on Sunday afternoon, when we had
a chance to grab half an hour of his valuable time. A wide-ranging
conversation (there’s so much going on at the moment, isn’t
there?) revealed that there is much good news to come from the ALMS,
and its CEO was in very good spirits.
“When I look at
the things we have in play right now, I just need a few pieces to
fall into place and the rest will take care of itself. If everyone
knew what I know…..”
So that’s enticing
isn’t it? Patience isn’t something that racing people
would place high on their list of attributes, but at each end of
the telephone line, there was an acceptance that the 2005 ALMS news
will start to become known soon. Series followers who have suggested
that ‘no news now’ means that nothing is going on, are
going to have to show a little more patience…. but then they’ll
see the light.
the course,” explains Scott Atherton. “We’re working
very hard and very aggressively – for example, our strong
relationships with manufacturers allow us to be able to plan many
months ahead, and make long range decisions.” Confidentiality
agreements ensure that the news cannot be made known – yet.
But it will be.
So that’s a little
insight into the future, but what about the here and now –
the current state of play between the European branch and the American
branch of this area of sportscar racing? Unfortunately there are
date clashes next year between ALMS and LMES events, but perhaps
with the exception of what happens next October, that’s more
of a ‘driver problem’ than an ‘entrant problem’:
teams can’t be in two places at once, even if the races are
a week apart. To clarify that, perhaps a team with bases on two
continents could, but most can’t.
Scott Atherton is actually
very pleased with the way the relationship across the Atlantic is
developing. He acknowledges that moving he Le Mans Test Day is a
huge step forward.
“What has been
best for a one-off 24 Hour race may not have been what’s best
and most beneficial for a nine or ten race series, but we now have
a real spirit of cooperation between us. There is a proper recognition
of what we do – and the response from the ACO is now ‘Why
not, let’s work together and see how we can do that.’
“Talk to Doug Fehan,”
he suggests, and ask him about the savings in moving the Test Day
to two weeks before the race.”
That simple but very
significant change has allowed the introduction of two ALMS events
between Sebring and Le Mans.
good hands,” says the CEO, of the relationship with the ACO.
need to catch up with Scott Atherton again, hopefully at Sebring
in late January, but for now, when he says “the future of
this form of sportscar racing is very bright,” we believe
he is absolutely right. We'll just have to wait a little while to
discover what is going to unfold.