American Le Mans (ALMS) Overview

Le Mans: the ultimate endurance and efficiency test for motorsports since 1923. Originally started in Le Mans, France where streets would be blocked off for the 24 hour race. This gave teams plenty of time to speed along the Circuit de la Sarthe. Le Mans races forced race teams to balance speed against endurance. Race teams would push a car's ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage while also managing the car's consumables such as fuel, tires and brakes. The endurance of drivers is also put to the test as a driver often times has to drive for hours in miserable conditions while maintaining focus and composure without compromising stamina and speed. All of these varying elements make for spectacular shows which is evidenced over the many years of Le Mans races.
Le Mans Races are recognized and held all over the world in cities and on streets except for the US. However, ever so often, when the French aren't too busy drinking wine and the when the Germans haven't found any tools to organize, they come to the US. In fact, there is a separate American Le Mans (ALMS) series that features some of the best drivers in the most magnificently engineered machines from around the world who race in ALMS throughout the US and Canada.
ALMS follows similar rules and structure as the traditional 24 hours of Le Mans. Most importantly, ALMS maintains the distinct four classes that make up the variety of competing vehicles. The four primary classes are the two Prototype classes that are purpose built vehicles strictly for Le Mans-type races, the LMP1 and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 1-2). Then you have the modified production sports cars that compete in the two Grand Touring classes, the GTE-Pro and the GTE-AM (Grand Touring Endurance Professional and Amateur). There are also two sub-classes for both the Prototype and Grand Touring classes. These are known as the Challenge classes which means that all of the cars, engines and tires are the same for each team. This ensures that victory is driven more-so by the driver and car setup than engineering and budget.
Each team is required to have a minimum of two to three drivers that rotate throughout the race, pitting endurance against strategy. The greatest challenge for Le Mans drivers is having to navigate a track with over 50 cars in varying classes while trying to compete against your own class of cars and doing so with almost no breaks for 2-3 hours before changing drivers. Teams oftentimes represent a manufacturer's ability to engineer powerful, light and reliable race cars, placing a sense of pride on say, an Audi vs. a Peugeot. This also leads to competitive rivalries that may exist between competing countries, providing a sense of nationalistic pride between Germany's Audi R18 and France's Peugeot 908. However, at the end of the day, a team's ability to achieve victory is most commonly attributed to the driver's skill, vehicle manufacturer, tires, and car setup.
American Le Mans races are featured throughout the United States and Canada on tracks such as Sebring in FL, Mosport International Raceway in Ontario Canada, downtown Baltimore Maryland, and Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. The ALMS season typically lasts from February to October, with approximately nine races throughout the year. Although American Le Mans features some of the most intense driving and brutally focused skill sets in American racing, it often goes unnoticed as it is a gem in the rough that has only been more recently been getting noticed. If you don't enjoy the roundabout, consistently competitive nature of NASCAR then you definitely need to attend a Le Mans race and experience the menacing power and madness of these cars in person.
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