DAYTONA BEACH — Sports car racing in North America is getting a makeover, as Grand-Am and American Le Mans announced a merger Wednesday that will join them as one series beginning in 2014.
Grand-Am founder Jim France and ALMS founder Don Panoz said in a joint statement at Daytona International Speedway that the new series will start with the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014 and likely include 12 races.
Panoz said the merger will "strengthen professional sports car racing beyond what either of our organizations could have achieved separately."
Many details are being worked out, including a series name, the 2014 schedule and technical regulations. The merger involves eight North American sports car series, and the unified organization would run the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Appeals: Richard Childress Racing told NASCAR it will appeal the six-week suspension of Craig Smokstad, the car chief for Paul Menard's No. 27 Sprint Cup car, and engineer Grant Hutchens. However, the team will not appeal crew chief Slugger Labbe's $100,000 fine and six-week suspension, nor the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points. NASCAR said the car's frame rails were modified in an effort to deceive inspectors.
Briscoe in limbo: Penske Racing picked up the contract options on IndyCar points leader Will Power and Helio Castroneves, but the status of Ryan Briscoe, currently sixth in points, is uncertain. "We've told Ryan Briscoe it would be okay for him to go look and try to understand what's out there because our deal will come together late," Penske president Tom Cindric said.