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.”

dailysportscar.comThose 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.

“We’re staying 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.

“We’re in good hands,” says the CEO, of the relationship with the ACO.

We’ll 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.


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