Q: What's new with “Green racing,” and what's in store this year?
A: It will continue to be a primary focal point of the series. We've renewed our relationship with the EPA and DOE. We'll have alternative fuels and power trains continuing. Cellulosic E85, which we've always strived to use but sometimes been unable to do because of supply issues, has been resolved.
I think you'll see some one-off examples, with the DeltaWing at the top of that list. Other manufacturer-based examples may run unclassified to demonstrate the technology unaddressed in our rulebook. That's why the series exists, for manufacturers to bring that technology, if a rulebook doesn't contain it.
There's another angle here, that's developing, not directly connected to the ALMS, but it's at arms-length. That was the announcement made at the AUTOSPORT show with our linkup with the Quimera organization and its AE-GT, All-Electric GT car. That car will make a demonstration debut at an ALMS event in the near future. It's all-electric and has performance characteristics that are consistent with internal combustion engines in GT of ALMS. This is a car that would lay down lap times similar to a current GT car.
Q: Also, you announced the Unlimited Racing Championship at Monterey. Are there any schedule or entry details there?
A: It's a work in progress. It's very difficult to birth a new series. They are scheduled to begin the new season on the Laguna Seca date, the second weekend in May. I spoke to Richard Nauert, about two weeks ago. They are flat-out on building cars, they have sold several cars, they are building some others based on additional future sales.
He claims that they will have a “reasonable” car count to start with it consistently growing. Naturally, you'll ask, what's “reasonable,” and I'll say you need at least 6-8-10 for it to be a proper race. But the cars themselves are so interesting and exciting. If you're 30 or older, you know what I'm referring to. These are proper, fire-breathing, Can-Am cars, that even if there were only two of them out there running around, it would be worth watching.
Q: So, bottom line. What's your biggest growth area for 2012? Your biggest challenge? And what, other than Sebring, excites you most?
A: Our biggest growth area is twofold: car count and content. I think we'll set another record in terms of highest overall car count average in the history of the series. Just over 34 cars last year, and I think we'll eclipse that in 2012.
The priority for us, and the biggest focus and challenge, is continuing to grow our fan base. That's the high tide that will raise all the ships. It's what all our strategy is built around, with the website, etc. If you look at the core reason as to why we do this, it's to expand the fan base. Looking at all the new teams, manufacturers, sponsors – not unlike with Lotus – we're not alone in this quest. Our ability to leverage them and assist us helps.
I'd almost regurgitate on that besides Sebring. We want another season of growth, based frankly on the results we delivered in 2011. I won't say it's an overnight success because we are entering our 14th season. I'm having trouble sleeping at night, but it's not because I'm nervous. I'm excited and ready to go.