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Grand-Am Road Racing Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Grand-Am Road Racing, Continental Tire

Grand-Am Road Racing Media Conference

Ed Bennett
Ryan Dalziel
Scot Elkins
Travis Roffler
July 31, 2013


THE MODERATOR: Thanks to everybody for joining us today for a really exciting announcement regarding the future of SportsCar Racing in North America. I'd like to begin by introducing our panel for today's teleconference. We're joined today by Ed Bennett, the CEO of IMSA, Travis Roffler, Director of Marketing for Continental Tire, Scot Elkins, the Vice President of Competition and Technical Regulations for IMSA, and Ryan Dalziel, who competes in both the GRAND‑AM Sports Car series, and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, and was the winner of last Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix.
Now for today's announcement, we'd like to go to Ed Bennett. Ed?
EDDIE BENNETT: Thank you, Nate. It's a busy time as you would expect. Let me begin by saying we continue to track well against our overall established key milestones and time lines we set forth for the merger getting ready for 2014. Today, we're proud to announce the following exciting news regarding the International Motorsports Association's tire strategy as we prepare for the first season of United Sports Car Racing.
Continental Tire, which is already an established strategic supplier in marketing provider in both the GRAND‑AM Road Racing and American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, will continue to play those roles in our efforts as the exclusive tire supplier for three important classes next year in the new United SportsCar Racing Series.
The Prototype, Prototype Challenge, and GT Daytona classes. Also, Continental proudly will return as the title sponsor and exclusive tire supplier of the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
In addition, we also want to announce the United SportsCar Racing's GT Le Mans class will be open to multiple tire competition and involvement. This is exciting news and significant news with our friends from Continental Tire here.
I'll turn it over to our partner and friend, director of marketing for Continental Tire, Mr.Travis Roffler, to provide some more great perspective.
TRAVIS ROFFLER: Thank you very much Ed. On behalf of Continental Tire, first and foremost, I'd like to express our sincere gratitude to Jim France and Don Panoz that had the vision to create this Unified Series starting in 2014. We could not be more pleased and proud to be involved in the United Sports Car Racing Series moving forward under the IMSA brand.
Our team has worked extremely hard over the last few years since coming on board in 2010 to develop tires that are durable and provide confidence to our drivers within the series.
I think when you look at Rolex, the Continental Tire SportsCar series as well as our new venture in the Prototype Challenge class of American Le Mans, we have seen great racing at every track we've been to this year and are excited to continue this in the future.
We have continually developed and will continue to develop our tires to meet the needs of the track and the drivers as well as the teams to provide competition that is exciting for our fans. Continental Tire could not be more proud to announce today to be the spec tire for the Prototypes, the Prototype Challenge and the GT Daytona cars in the United SportsCar Racing Series for 2014.
In regards to the GTLM class, the Grand Touring Le Mans class in the future United SportsCar Racing Series, we are prepared and are currently looking at our options to compete in this class.
We'll continue to use our entire racing line, the extreme contact line for all of these classes, including the spec tire an exclusive tire of the Continental Tire SportsCar Sound series.
We'll also continue part of the contract, part of our agreement moving forward with United SportsCar is an increase in our at‑track involvement as well as our off‑track involvement with media and of course with our dealer groups who support our vision for Continental Tires' involvement in Motorsports in the future.
With that, I'm pleased to say we are moving forward with this commitment and have a deep commitment to Motorsports and to SportsCar racing in the United States in 2014 and beyond.
Thank you very much, Ed, and all of your team, Scot Atherton, Scot Elkins, and the entire group at IMSA for all of your hard work to make this a possibility, and we are truly looking forward to the future. Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Let's move to Scot Elkins who will address another aspect of today's news regarding the 2014 GT Le Mans class. Scot?
SCOT ELKINS: Thanks, Nate. Thanks everybody. It's a very, very historic day, and we appreciate the work that everybody's done, especially with our partners at Continental Tire. Today is about them, and I think that's very important. The one aspect I just wanted to touch on was the openness of the tire competition in the GT Le Mans class. And the primary aspect is because we've made it clear that we want to stay consistent with the ACL regulations for this class. By keeping the tires open, it allows us to keep those regulations consistent and also gives the manufacturers who are the dominant competitors in this class the opportunity to retain the relationships that they have with their respective tire companies.
It's another aspect and another side of kind of proof in the pudding of how we're taking the best of both worlds aspect of this merger and blending unique aspects of each series, the ALMS and GRAND‑AM together. That's just another facet of how we're doing it, and it's a unique opportunity for us to enable ourselves to have single specified tires and have an open class that meets the manufacturer goals.
So, again, thanks to Continental Tire for allowing us this opportunity and allowing us to head forward in the future.
THE MODERATOR: Let's move to Ryan Dalziel for his comments. Ryan, you've competed pretty extensively on both sides of the series that are merging. Your thoughts on some exciting news today?
RYAN DALZIEL: Yeah, you know, just to kind of echo what the other guys have said. This is obviously an exciting day and one of the many great announcements we're going to see over the next few months here in preparation for next year.
But I was actually just thinking back of the race over the weekend, and it reminded me of the Formula 1 race in 2005 where tires played a key role, and it just proves how difficult Continental's job is and really the huge gains that we've made over the past couple years, and to get to the point where we were able to double‑stint tires at Indianapolis. I think that's unheard of, and really many other manufacturers.
So it's great for us. It's great that we're going to have a consistent package going forward. I think that once we get the cars compared between P2 and DP and PC, we're going to be able to open up and start moving forward.
But I've had the opportunity to drive the LNPC car on both Michelins and Continentals and it's a great tire. We really are pretty happy with it. I don't know if people saw the race, but our car was pretty well on Continental, so I'm pretty happy we're sticking with them.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and open to Q & A for today's tire strategy with Continental.

Q. With the changeover, it's obvious that Continental has been very involved with the sport, but will there be more testing out there with this full program or will there be more testing available for the competitors?
SCOT ELKINS: Primarily we'll allow more testing in the classes that haven't been on Continentals previously, which is probably the combined Prototype class. The other classes, the PC class, has been running on Continentals all this year, and the combined GTD class, most of those guys know the Continentals very, very well already.
So I think we'll do some additional testing for the combined Prototype, but the other classes probably won't see any kind of an increase in their tire testing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you everybody for your participation. As I said exciting news for the future. Stay tuned for more. We're obviously very excited about next weekend's event at Road America which will feature both the GRAND‑AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, as well as a number of our development series. Thanks again for joining us.



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