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WASHINGTON, D.C., RACE HAILED AS "GIANT LEAP" FOR AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES, <BR>MOTORSPORTS<P>BRASELTON, Ga. (July 14, 2002) - As the American Le Mans Series prepares <BR>for next weekend's inaugural racing event in Washington, D.C., series <BR>officials and competitors are hailing the event as a giant leap in the <BR>continued rise of the four-year-old sports car endurance racing series and <BR>motorsports in gereral.<BR>The Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C., will be run July 19-21 on a <BR>temporary racing circuit that has been constructed outside RFK Stadium. The <BR>1.7-mile, seven-turn course will come to life with many of the same drivers <BR>and teams that competed in last month's 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, <BR>including the overall winning team.<BR>"If a racing series has ever had a breakout race, this could be it for the <BR>American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, President and COO of the <BR>Panoz Motor Sports Group, which operates the series. "For a number of <BR>reasons, this event in Washington, D.C., is one of the most important in the <BR>brief history of our series."<BR>No major automobile racing event has been held in Washington in more than <BR>80 years. Over a period of several years, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment <BR>Commission worked with Christopher J. Lencheski, founder of National Grand <BR>Prix Holdings, LLC, to investigate, plan and stage an event, all with the <BR>full blessing and cooperation of Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams. <BR>Williams, wanting to stimulate international travel to Washington, as well <BR>as help the city economy, led a press conference last August to announce a <BR>10-year deal and the inaugural event for July of 2002.<BR>Since the announcement, Lencheski's group has set the standard for new <BR>motorsports events to follow, Atherton said. In addition to constructing a <BR>state-of-the-art racing circuit in what had been a parking lot area at the <BR>stadium, the group has brought in sponsors new to motorsports and has gotten <BR>the attention of the motorsports industry, as well as the D.C. area.<BR>The event has taken on a festival atmosphere, and the racing is only part <BR>of it. In addition to the American Le Mans Series, which will run a <BR>two-hour, 45-minute race on Sunday, July 21, as the featured event of the <BR>weekend, three other racing series will hold races over the course of the <BR>weekend as well.<BR>In addition, a dozen stars of movies, television, fashion and music will <BR>compete in a special celebrity race, bringing a Hollywood feel to the event, <BR>and daredevil Robbie Knievel will attempt a motorcycle jump prior to the <BR>start of the American Le Mans Series race. The adjacent D.C. Armory will <BR>host a Lifestyle Expo featuring motorsports-themed exhibits. Ancillary <BR>events will include a black-tie gala to benefit the Kennedy Krieger <BR>Institute, a "Stars and Cars" party at "Dream," a lavish D.C. nightspot, on <BR>the night before the race.<BR>Many Washington movers and shakers will attend the event, as will many <BR>corporate representatives. Media coverage will be the highest of any event <BR>in the four-year history of the American Le Mans Series, both locally and <BR>nationally. The American Le Mans Series race will be televised live by NBC <BR>Sports, while Saturday's companion event for the Trans-Am Series will be <BR>live on CBS.<BR>"The significance of the Washington, D.C., race has not been lost on anyone <BR>in the motorsports industry," said Atherton. "We're proud that the event <BR>organizers chose the American Le Mans Series over other racing series to be <BR>a part of this historic event."<BR>The American Le Mans Series is a series of North American sports car races <BR>based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most famous endurance race. <BR>American Le Mans Series races feature four classes of race cars competing <BR>for class wins and the overall win, with the fields including many of the <BR>same drivers and cars that compete at Le Mans. The series holds events at <BR>many of North America's premier permanent road racing facilities as well as <BR>at temporary circuits in key major markets. The series motto is "For the <BR>Fans" and all events feature driver autograph sessions and open paddocks. <BR>All events are on live television in the United States. Well-known <BR>automotive brand names such as Audi, Cadillac, Corvette, Dodge, Ferrari, MG, <BR>Nissan, Panoz, Porsche and Saleen are represented on the series. The series, <BR>which has its headquarters in Braselton, Ga., was founded in 1999 by <BR>entrepreneur Don Panoz and is sanctioned by the International Motor Sports <BR>Association (IMSA).<BR>
 
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