The annual American Le Mans Series stakeholders' meeting at Elkhart Lake is a day that tends to produce a number of noteworthy developments about the series for the following year, with partial information about schedules, sponsorships and television packages often coming to light.
This year's meeting, held today at the 4.0-mile road course where the first dual ALMS and Grand-Am event is being held, will have a different look as Grand-Am, which purchased the ALMS in 2012 and will re-launch both series under the United SportsCar Racing banner in 2014, will host the gathering.
Details on the complete 2014 schedule is on the immediate horizon, but due to a few sanctioning agreements that have yet to be finalized, the full calendar is expected to come in the next 30-45 days, and possibly sooner. Technical regulations have also been expected since the beginning of August.
The one major item RACER has confirmed that will be revealed is the 2014 television package, which features a five-year deal with Fox to make its new Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 cable outlets the homes for USCR events.
For sports car racing fans, the 2014 USCR broadcasts should have a familiar look and feel as many of the recognizable names and faces are expected to return. The USCR agreement with Fox complements NASCAR's recent signing of a long-term deal to air is various stock car series across Fox's network and cable channels, and aligns its sports car properties, including Grand-Am's Continental Tire Series, with one media company.
Grand-Am's existing relationship with Fox through its SPEED property (which converts to Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17) dates back to its inaugural season in 2000. The ALMS also enjoyed a long stint on SPEED, departing for the 2011 season to differentiate itself through offerings of live streaming and edited or delayed broadcasts across multiple ABC/ESPN properties, yet added a pair of events on SPEED for 2013, including the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and October's series finale at Petit Le Mans.
Grand-Am events will continue to air live on the former SPEED channel once the Fox Sports 1 transition takes place, and FUEL, one of the lesser known Fox-owned channels (which becomes Fox Sports 2 on the 17th), will also host live Grand-Am races, starting with the Kansas Speedway round on 8/17.
The USCR championship makes its debut on Jan. 25-26 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.