ALMS action from Sebring. Photo: Anne Proffit
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) normally has a long gap between its second race at Long Beach and its third, which follows the 24 Heures du Mans in Le Mans the beginning of June.
Scott Atherton has been looking for a way to remedy that gap and, starting in 2013 has found the solution. ALMS has entered an agreement with OKC Motorsports to bring sports car racing to Oklahoma City, tentatively scheduled the weekend of May 17-19.
The race will be staged in the Adventure District of northeast Oklahoma City, an area that includes horse track Remington Park, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, ASA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium and the city's zoo.
According to OKC Motorsports' president Mike McAuliffe, "This will be the biggest thing to hit that area since Remington Park opened" in 1988.
The agreement is for a minimum of three years. The weekend of May 17-19 was agreed-upon for the first race because it would be the only race for the month of May, occurring between Mothers Day and Memorial Day. McAuliffe said his group liked that date because it comes around the time of Armed Forces Day and gives opportunity for tributes to American armed forces.
ALMS wanted to start the event in 2012 but OKC Motorsports prefers to wait another year to deal with infrastructure issues, including road improvements, installation of safety fences and construction of a walkover pedestrian bridge from the softball Hall of Fame to the zoo.
"We want to do it right the first time around," McAuliffe said.
The race has support from the Oklahoma state Senate and House of Representatives, county commissioners, and the mayor of Oklahoma, Mick Cornett has been a strong advocate of the proposed race weekend.
The proposed circuit layout and a schedule of proposed events will be released as the race program moves forward. McAuliffe intends to include the entire Adventure District in his circuit plans. "This is a major step," he said. "There is still much to be done for this to become a reality, but we are getting closer every day."
Atherton recognizes that the Oklahoma City area is a "thriving, viable and sports-hungry market that is excited about the possibility of adding world-class auto racing to a growing roster of major sports offerings. For our fans, team and corporate partners, the potential to expand our brand of racing in mid-America is very appealing."
© 2011 Anne Proffit