Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Lotus Legion Grows Its Reach Into The ALMS

The 2012 Lotus Evora GTE will make its public on track debut on April 14 at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix. Image Credit: Group Lotus via AutoWeek

The Lotus Legion Grows Its Reach Into The ALMS

Alex Job Racing and Group Lotus will be joining forces in a partnership to compete the Lotus Evora GTE in the 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT Class. Due the the lateness of the announcement, the agreement will have the effort miss the first race of the season at the 12 Hours of Sebring (March 17), but the good news for "Angelinos" is that they will debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said, “We are focused on winning. Alex Job has one of the best records in sports-car racing. We look forward to working together and developing a top-tier team over the coming years. Racing is a core component of the Lotus brand, and we are thrilled to have this new partnership to further enhance our winning racing heritage.”

The team will be officially addressed as Lotus Alex Job Racing (or Lotus AJR) and this partnership marks the first time Lotus has participated in factory form in the ALMS. Team captain Alex Job confirmed that part-time Izod IndyCar Series racer Townsend Bell will drive the team's one-car effort, teaming up with AJR driver Bill Sweedler.

“I am excited to announce the racing partnership between Lotus and Alex Job Racing in North America,” team leader and namesake, Alex Job said. “Our efforts and ability to attract Lotus is a testament to the hard work that AJR has put in over the past several years. This partnership, along with our key sponsors William Rast, Battery Tender, and Yokohama represent a new chapter for our seasoned organization and for the ALMS."

“Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, and William Rast CEO - Colin Dyne played the key role in forging this long-term relationship with Lotus," Job continued. "We collectively look forward to representing this iconic sports-car brand for years to come in GT racing.”

The Evora GTE will be powered by a 4.0-liter V6 Toyota engine featuring Cosworth electronic controls, with redline set at 7,000 rpm. The engine produces 470 hp and 328-lb.-ft. of torque. The racing version of the car weighs 2,740 lbs, and it features a six-speed sequential Xtrac gearbox with a paddle-shift option.

Townsend Bell added, “Having the chance to represent such a great brand like Lotus is simply awesome. The fact that I get to work with one of the best teams in sports-car racing is icing on the cake. I'm really fired-up to work with Lotus AJR and Bill in what will undoubtedly be a great adventure. Time to buckle up!”
(ht: AutoWeek)

This spring, Long Beach will feature the largest gathering of factory teams sponsored by Group Lotus anywhere in the world ... ever - certainly in the modern era. We will see the first year IZOD IndyCar Series teams announced to date of Lotus HVM, Lotus Bryan Herta Autosport, Lotus Dragon Racing (IZOD IndyCar's only West coast located team), and Lotus Dreyer and Reinbold Racing (running the turbo-charged Lotus/Judd Indy Car engine) join ALMS's Lotus Alex Job Racing competing on the streets and Shoreline Drive straightaway at Long Beach, California, April 13-15, 2012. Welcome the era of the Lotus Legion in American motorsports racing.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as The Lotus Legion Grows Its Reach Into The ALMS on Technorati **

Monday, February 13, 2012

TruSpeed Motorsports And City Of Long Beach Launch Grand Prix Magic

The 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, set to take place April 13-15, took its first step toward the green flag when construction began Monday, February 13 on the outside of turn #10 before the hairpin turn #11 entering Shoreline Drive, the racing circuit’s 185 mph famed front straightaway. Pictured on this drizzly Monday morning from right to left are President and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Jim Michaelian | City of Long Beach Vice Mayor, Suja Lowenthal | President and Driver for TruSpeed Motorsports, Rob Morgan. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

TruSpeed Motorsports And City Of Long Beach Launch Grand Prix Magic

This Monday morning saw the kick-off celebration of the conversion of the streets around Long Beach's Shoreline Drive and Long Beach Convention Center into the racing venue known every spring as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. A process that has taken place 37 time before, and the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set to take place April 13-15, 2012.

Street course motorsports racing strikes many casual event goers as something that is simple and oddly natural in its creation. "Hey, we drive on streets, so why don't we just close them off and race on them" ... they muse to themselves, while not knowing exactly what is involved with their simple and oddly natural thought processes.

The fact of the matter, it take a huge amount of concrete and effort to magically transform a street into a stable and safe motorsports racing facility. Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations Dwight Tanaka and his staff will put in more than 30,000 working hours installing 14 million pounds of concrete blocks that line the track, three miles of fencing and 16,000 bolted-together tires, along with 16 huge spectator grandstands, seven pedestrian bridges and giant-vision boards for full-circuit TV coverage.

The construction got underway with assists from Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and TruSpeed Motorsports Pirelli World Challenge team owner/driver Rob Morgan, who appeared at the track for a kickoff photo shoot with his #1 TruSpeed Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, which was the championship-winning car in the series’ GT category last year.

Patrick Long, driving the then #45 PrivacyStar Porsche, sealed the 2011 GT Driver’s Championship in the Pirelli World Challenge on the season's last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In doing so, Patrick claimed the title in his first full season in the Series and delivered to TruSpeed Motorsports its first series championship. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

Entering its 23rd consecutive season, the Pirelli World Challenge (which will join the IZOD IndyCar Series, the American Le Mans Series, Firestone Indy Lights, Team Drifting Challenge, and Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race weekend events) is one of North America's top production car-based racing championships. Divided into four separate categories (GT, GTS, Touring Car, and Touring Car B-Spec), races feature thrilling standing starts, adrenaline filled door-to-door action and world-class drivers. The Pirelli World Challenge features cars from the world's most popular manufacturers – race-prepped versions of the cars driven on the streets. Sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, the series races at North America's premier road and temporary street courses.

Morgan’s Costa Mesa-based TruSpeed Motorsports team is preparing to contest the SCCA's GT car 2012 Pirelli World Challenge season which gets underway March 23-25 with a doubleheader at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The plan of TruSpeed Motorsports is to field three cars for the entire eight venue, twelve race GT/GTS Pirelli World Challenge 2012 season.

"We feel honored to help kick off the Grand Prix,” Morgan said. “When you look at the 38 year history and heritage of the event, it’s one of the best in the world. It’s also our home race, so we’re glad to be here today. We will be running three cars in the race ... possibly four. But to be involved in something like this is wonderful. The last two years we have participated in the media 'Press Day' with a couple of race cars, giving the [track] rides and so forth, and this is another way we can promote and enhance our relationship with Jim Michaelian, the race, and the City of Long Beach."

Dwight Tanaka, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach Director of Operations and his staff also install hospitality suites, tents, electrical equipment, phones, porta-johns, trash containers and a hundred other little things up until race weekend. Then on Sunday night, when the last race car has left the track, they start to take everything down, inspect the gear and get everything ready for next year when the grand prix magic begins all over again. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

It takes two months to prepare this part of the City of Long Beach for the 175,000 fans expected during race weekend. All businesses along the race circuit, which includes Shoreline Drive, Aquarium Way and Pine Ave., will remain open during construction of the racetrack.

"We want to make sure that our course is both safe and competitive, and Dwight and is staff as well as the Long Beach city departments deliver on all accounts,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “That phenomenal support is what helps us make the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach America’s number one street race.”

Fans can select and pay for their 2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach seats, parking, and paddock passes online at gplb.com. Ticket orders can also be placed by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 82-SPEED. Ticket prices range from $26 for a Friday General Admission ticket to $130 for a three-day ticket that includes Sat./Sun. reserved seating in grandstand upper levels.

Pre-paid parking packages are also available, along with handicapped seating, IndyCar Paddock passes, Super Photo tickets and a wide variety of Hospitality Club packages including the exciting Vista Club – featuring a nearly 360-degree view of the race circuit – located high atop the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.

Fans can also follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB and on Twitter @ToyotaGPLB.

So if you were one of those people who mused that Street Course racing was something that is simple and oddly natural in its creation ... you're right, close your eyes and "voila" ... the Grand Prix magic will appear in Long Beach April 13-15, 2012 at the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as TruSpeed Motorsports And City Of Long Beach Launch Grand Prix Magic on Technorati **