Road America is gearing up to host the first joint weekend for both Grand-Am Road Racing series and the American Le Mans Series. While it provides extra opportunities for fans at the track and watching on TV, the event will be extra challenging for eight drivers who will be driving in both series, while three of them will also compete in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
"Triple duty" drivers are Bill Auberlen, John Edwards and Spencer Pumpelly, joining Leh Keen, Patrick Long, Andy Lally, Maxime Martin, and Tristan Nunez in seeing action for both sanctioning bodies.
"Grand-Am and the ALMS were smart about the way they built the schedule," said Lally, who will co-drive with John Potter in the Rolex Series and Patrick Dempsey in the ALMS. "All of the days have been split, so we have half a day Grand-Am and then ALMS on Friday, and then vice versa on Saturday. It lets me focus on one team for half a day, and then switch focus to the other team, so I'm not literally jumping back and forth from car to car to car. That way, I can get the most out of both cars."
Pumpelly, Auberlen and Edwards will drive for the same teams in both the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Challenge, but will be with different teams in the ALMS.
"I've done double-duty plenty of times before, but triple duty is going to keep me going non-stop all weekend," said Edwards, who competes for Stevenson Motorsports in both the Rolex Series (ABOVE) and Continental Tire Challenge, driving Camaros with Robin Liddell and Matt Bell, respectively. Edwards has racked up four wins to date this season in the Rolex Series and one in Continental Tire Challenge, and also has been a winner with BMW Team RLL in ALMS co-driving with Dirk Muller.
Pumpelly (RIGHT) competes for BGB Motorsports with co-driver Dr. Jim Norman in Grand-Am, running a Porsche Cayman in the Rolex Series GX class and a Porsche 911 Carrera in the Continental Tire Challenge GS class. He also drives a 911 GT3 Cup with Nelson Canache Jr. for Flying Lizard Motorsports in the ALMS.
"I probably couldn't imagine three more different Porsches," Pumpelly said. "The GS car is unlike any other racecar. It has an interesting way of handling, with lower horsepower relative to the other cars, and it's tricky to keep the momentum up. It also has ABS, which makes braking easier than the other two cars. The GX Cayman doesn't drive like a typical rear-engine 911. Instead of turning the car with the brake pedal and having the rear slide a little bit, you turn the car with the steering wheel – it only gets loose if you upset it. The Flying Lizard car is right up my alley – it's the kind of car I've been driving the last 12 years, so that should be pretty straightforward."
Auberlen will drive Turner Motorsport BMW M3s with Paul Dalla Lana in both the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Challenge and joins Martin in a BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE in the ALMS. Martin will also drive a Turner Motorsport BMW in the Rolex Series, joining team owner Will Turner.
Leh Keen drives a Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 with Alessandro Balzan in the Rolex Series, and the Team West/Boardwalk Ferrari F458 for Alex Job Racing in the ALMS. Patrick Long runs a pair of Porsches, joining Patrick Lindsey with Park Place Motorsports in the Rolex Series and Tom Kimber-Smith with CORE Autosport in ALMS.
Nunez probably has the biggest adjustment of the group, going back and forth from a prototype to a GT. The 17-year-old Floridian drives with Charlie Shears in the Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 in the ALMS Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire and with SpeedSource in a diesel-powered Mazda6 in the Rolex Series GX class. There is some continuity – both cars are sponsored by VisitFlorida.com.
"The most important rule is to pay attention," Pumpelly said. "You have to remember which pit box you need to pull in to, and some of the particular rules of the series. But that should be pretty straightforward. I want to make sure I have enough time to help my co-drivers learn the track. That's a matter of having my schedule regimented and having each day planned out before it starts, and that way I can devote enough time to each car. I wouldn't want any of the efforts to suffer because I'm spread too thin."