The 16th annual Petit Le Mans will close a chapter in sports car racing history as the final race for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Saturday's 16th running of Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda brings down the curtain on the 2013 North American sports car racing season. The 1,000-mile (394 lap), 10-hour race over Road Atlanta's 12 turn, 2.54-mile circuit marks the end of an era as the final event in the storied history of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Fans will savor memories while looking forward to 2014 with the ALMS and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series merging for next year's competition as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The unified series opens with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26 and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida on March 15.
The 2014 Petit Le Mans concludes next year's 12-race TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule.
FOX Sports, television home of IMSA's unified series in the coming years, will provide extensive coverage of Saturday's race. FOX Sports 2 will carry pre-race reports and the start of Petit Le Mans from 11 a.m. to 12 noon and continue its live coverage from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1 will join the event from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. FOX Sports 2 then re-joins at 8 p.m. to carry coverage through the finish and post-race activities.
FOX Sports 1 will show a re-air of coverage at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20.
All television windows are Eastern Daylight Time.
Fans should check their cable or satellite provider listing for FOX Sports 2 at http://bit.ly/19ljbZ8 or call their local cable/satellite provider to ensure it's part of their viewing package.
Additional information about this week's race including race-day resources can be found at http://www.alms.com/races/petit-le-mans-5.
While ALMS' showcase P1 championships have been determined, interest in what's anticipated to be the overall Petit Le Mans winner is in no way diminished.
Co-champion Lucas Luhr seeks a landmark, 50th ALMS victory in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03C he shares with Klaus Graf. The 2013 championship team is gunning for its ninth consecutive P1 victory and hasn't been beaten since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Complicating Luhr's task is the resurgence of Dyson Racing - the Virginia International Raceway pole winner – and the return of defending Petit Le Mans winner Rebellion Racing. The latter's No. 12 Lola B12/60 will be helmed by Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost and during testing earlier this week recorded the fastest lap of the day at 1 minutes 9.816 seconds (130.973 mph).
Corvette Racing took its 10th ALMS GT team championship earlier this month at VIR. All that remains is the class driver championship, which Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen hope to wrap up. The drivers of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R hold a 16-point lead over BMW Team RLL driver Dirk Muller. They can clinch the title with a seventh-place finish regardless of Muller's performance.
GRAND-AM Rolex Series DP co-champion Jordan Taylor has joined the Garcia-Magnussen tandem for Petit Le Mans.
Corvette Racing will end the American Le Mans Series as its most successful entrant. The team's 82 victories are 27 more than any other competitor. Corvette Racing also has 54 one-two team finishes in ALMS events and has been the fastest qualifier in 64 races – both series records.
"I've been involved in the ALMS since the beginning," said Magnussen, co-leader in ALMS starts with 115 – five more than partner Antonio Garcia. "It's been a championship that personally gave me a second career in racing. I pretty much thought when I was done with Formula One and the way it ended that would be it for me.
"Coming here and getting into this championship has been a super privilege. It's not just to race but also to fight for championships with the biggest manufacturer in the ALMS."
Seven drivers who participated in the 1998 inaugural Petit Le Mans will take part in this week's race, the last under ALMS sanction. They are Uwe Alzen, Bill Auberlen, David Brabham, Emmanuel Collard, Joe Foster, Darren Law, and Jorg Muller.
Auberlen has competed in 14 of the 15 previous events – the same number as Magnussen, whose streak began with the 1999 race. Auberlen won GT in 2001 while Magnussen is a four-time class winner.
Atlanta isn't just the geographical site of Saturday's Petit Le Mans. Dempsey Racing, owned by popular actor/racer Patrick Dempsey and Atlanta's Joe Foster is headquartered in Flowery Branch. Road Atlanta also is the home of the revolutionary DeltaWing prototype driven by Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge. The car led eight laps at Road America and finished fifth overall.
Other Atlantans include Andy Lally, a three-time GRAND-AM Rolex Series champion and Spencer Pumpelly, who is in contention for the GTC championship. Anthony Lazarro of Atlanta drives in the P2 category with championship contender Scott Sharp in the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b.
Bryan Sellers of Auburn, an Atlanta suburb, is a leading contender in the GT category. Dane Cameron of Buford, Ga. co-drives with PC championship contender Mike Guasch in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Molecule ORECA FLM09. Cameron finished second at Circuit of The Americas in his second race with the team, with Guasch currently leading the standings by eight points.
A variety of pre-race activities lead up to Saturday's Petit Le Mans including driver Q&As, autograph sessions and participation in marque car corrals. Friday's schedule includes the championship-deciding race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – the first time the NASCAR Touring series has run at Road Atlanta. The race begins at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Additional information and ticket purchases are available at 1-800-849-RACE. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult ticket-holder.