Pre Test Days GA Press Conference
Grand Am held its press conference on Wednesday afternoon (January 4), to announce the entry for the test days, which begin today (Thursday).

We posted the entry late on Wednesday, and the raw figures reveal 33 Daytona Prototypes (14 Rileys, 12 Crawfords, 3 Dorans, 3 Fabcars, 1 Chase and no Multimatics) and 42 GTs (25 Porsches, 5 Corvettes, 4 BMWs, 3 Pontiacs, 3 Mazdas and a single Nissan and Ferrari).

Of the 75 cars, only one or two are entered by specifically European teams. As recently as 2003, 13 (of 45 race entries) were European.

One interesting technical change (which was announced last month) involves minimum weights for the DPs.

The 2005 minimum weights (which are calculated according to engine size) were:
Up to 3.99L 2125 pounds (Porsche engines only)
4.0 to 4.5L 2175 pounds (Lexus and Infiniti engines only)
4.51 to 5.0L 2200 pounds (BMW, Ford and Pontiac engines).

For 2006 the minimums are:
Up to 3.99L 2150 pounds (+ 25)
4.0 to 4.5L 2200 pounds (+25)
4.51 to 5.0L 2275 pounds (+75).

So simply put, all BMW, Ford and Pontiac-engined cars carry an extra 75 pounds, the rest an extra 25.

GA President Roger Edmondson was in ebullient mood at the prospect of 75 cars on track today – and prospects for his series in 2006.

Here are some of his remarks.

“I think it's become the vogue for sanctioning bodies to blow their own horn and talk about their numbers, TV numbers, spectator numbers and all of those other numbers. I think the true health of any series is the endorsement given to us by sponsors, teams and drivers, and by that measure, Grand American is clearly setting the pace.

“This year, our entry list for the Daytona Test Days comprises 33 Daytona Prototypes and 42 GT cars for a total of 75 entries, which shows the type of growth that we've come to expect but should never take for granted in this, the greatest road racing series on the planet.

“We feel that we've got a product that is going to come into its own, maybe not in 2006, maybe not in 2007, maybe not until 2008 or 2009, but it's clear to me that this form of motorsports has got a great future in this country.”

When asked about the split GT / DP races at Phoenix last year he responded thus:

“Actually, we came to the conclusion that after seeing that, while it sounded great in concept, it wasn't pleasing to me or to many others in our sport.

“Having gone down to two classes, we've certainly simplified things in terms of the spectators and declaring championships, instead of 25, or some ludicrous number. The dirty little secret in sports car racing for years has been the fact that they have to have multiple classes to create a credible field. Fortunately, at this stage of our development, we are not in that mode, but we are going to continue in the multi-class format.”

On sponsorship:

“We have sponsors putting their names on cars that are not necessarily companies that are owned by the guy who is writing the check to put the car on the track. And frankly for us to become a truly well accepted and well established professional series, we've got to have teams that are sponsored by legitimate sponsors, we've got to have drivers that are able to make a real living in this sport, within Grand American, and that is certainly one of the goals that I want to see us strive towards.”

On future race schedules:

“But as far as the future goes, let me say this. In 2004, 2005, 2006, our schedule is 14 races. For the first time we have more people asking about promoting a Grand American race than we have weekends to give. In fact, I must admit that part of me is giving some consideration to whether or not we should cut the schedule back a race or two in 2007.”

On the GT Class:

“I'm proud to say that under the radar, while we're not looking at it closely, GT is starting to show the same kind of growth that we saw in Daytona Prototypes. This year's entry list is evidence of that where we have seven different brands recognized in our GT field. There's not only Porsche and BMW, but there's also Corvette, there's a Mazda, there are Pontiacs, there's a Nissan 350Z and a Ferrari. Seven different manufacturers represented in GT.”

As regards the entry itself, Wayne Taylor pointed out that he and Max Angelelli / Emmanuel Collard (plus fourth driver Ryan Briscoe this year) will have another new chassis for the new season, the 2005 car having been ‘retired’ to a role of promotional car.

A Pontiac Riley for Adrian Fernandez’ Lowe’s Fernandez Racing (Fernadez / Scott Sharp / Mario Haberfeld) was the surprise on the list, while Stefan Johansson’s name popped up in the #51 Cheever Racing Crawford Lexus, the one DP with a real European feel to it (Newton / Erdos / Hughes – the 2005 LMP2 winners at Le Mans).

“Eddie and I have known and raced against each other since the early eighties," says Johansson. "The race will no doubt be one of the most competitive in history, with a huge grid and even more great drivers and teams than last year. I really look forward to the challenge and believe we have a good chance of getting the job done.”

By the look of things, somehow GA is going to have to decide how to turn away some potential entries later this month: there were 29 DPs in the race entry last year, and the test days already show 33, with presumably several more out there as potential runners.

 

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