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Road Rage: American LeMans

Posted in Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Corvette, Dodge, Fast Cars, Ferrari, Ford, Ford GT, General, Porsche by Geoff | August 9th, 2008 | Leave a Reply |

Aston Martin GT2 coming to Wisconsin
Aston Martin GT2 coming to Wisconsin

Road racing, in general, and specifically the American LeMans Series of racing, does not get much attention in the land of NASCAR.  Nevertheless, the Generac 500 taking place at Road America in Wisconsin on Aug. 9th is one of the best initiations for those who are new to the sport.  Not only is car racing that includes more than turning left interesting to watch, but the cars on the track in the GT classes are based on real street vehicles…at least in theory.

This sort of racing has spawned all sort of limited number “production” cars from Ferrari, McLaren, etc., made in small numbers to qualify for among other things, the 24 hours of LeMans.  In addition to the supremely cool Aston Martin above, check out some of the cars  at Road America this week:

Corvette C6R
Corvette C6R

BMW M3 GT2
BMW M3 GT2

Dodge Viper Competition Coupe
Dodge Viper Competition Coupe

Ford GT-R
Ford GT-R

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

Ferrari 430 GT

Panoz Esperante GTLM
Panoz Esperante GTLM

While GT cars are based on road going versions of the same vehicle, some GT1 cars in the mid to late 1990s were purpose-built prototypes that spawned exotic cars. In order to qualify the production minimums were set at 25 cars for small manufacturers, such as Saleen or 100 cars for major manufacturers like BMW.  There are several divisions within GT racing, based on, among other things, these production numbers and racing modifications.  What makes this sort of competition even more exciting is seeing all of these different levels of cars performing on the same track at the same time.
 
Why Road America is special:
Road America is the world’s fastest permanent road course located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  Situated on 640 acres, Road America has hosted races since September of 1955 and currently hosts over 400 events a year.  Road America is one of only a hand-full of road circuits in the world maintaining its original configuration being 4.048 miles in length and 14 turns.  The track features many elevation changes, along with a long front stretch where speeds approaching 200 mph (300 km/h) may be reached. One of the best known features of this course is a turn on the backside known as “the kink.”  Although Road America as a whole is extremely challenging, “the kink” tests both machine and its driver to the limit.
 
Can’t get to Wisconsin?  The Speed Network will broadcast the race, tape delayed, on Aug. 10 @ 2 p.m., EST.

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