It all comes right for the ALMS in Long Beach

Regis LefegureAs our Brit racing enthusiast friends might say, “It was a proper motor race.” And then some. Forget the fact that the Long Beach street circuit suffers from intense “CSS” disease (can’t see shit), and forget the fact that parts of the “track” are akin to racing around inside a shopping mall, the fact of the matter is that the American Le Mans Series put on a great show late Saturday afternoon here in Southern California, a show that even put the following day’s IndyCar race to shame in terms of sheer intensity and drama.

Peter M. De Lorenzo is a national columnist who founded, a highly-regarded website devoted to news, commentary and analysis of the auto industry. He is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.The ALMS sprint race - which lasted approximately an hour and 40 minutes - was exactly what the series needed. Everything was present and accounted for in order for it to qualify as an excellent race, including intense on-track action throughout the four classes, boneheaded moves, and plenty of wheel-to-wheel action. And even better, the fight in all four classes went right down to the wire, culminating in Simon Pagenaud’s masterful drive in his Highcroft Racing Honda Performance Development ARX-01c machine as he stalked Adrian Fernandez - driving the magnificent-sounding Aston Martin V12 - into making a mistake, with Fernandez’ bobble on the last lap giving Pagenaud the opening he needed to slip by for the lead and the sensational win. It was dramatic. It was intense. And it was exactly what road racing fans have been clamoring for. Oh and this just in? Pagenaud is pretty good.

Rick DoleAnd the GT class battle - which now features simply the best road racing in this country since the heyday of the Trans-Am series from ‘68-‘71 - was again fantastic, with Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Corvette pounding on each other for the entire race in a frenzy of intense action. Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long ended up winning GT for Flying Lizard Motorsports, with Long, driving the duo’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, finishing four seconds ahead of Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell in their C6R.

John ThawleyThere were other stories at Long Beach, with the motor home conversations and maneuvering as intense as the on-track action, but I will save some of that for another time. Needless to say, the ALMS needs as much traction as they can possibly get until they can attract more manufacturers to their “green” racing series. And if they can deliver the kind of show they put on at Long Beach on a consistent basis - and keep pounding home the fact that they are basically the only major league racing series that provides manufacturers a forum to display their technical savvy while delivering high performance with high efficiency - then I am absolutely convinced that they can and will succeed.

Now, if someone would only put up a nice, round $100,000 to the winner for a special, one-off, 15-lap (60-mile) GT class shoot-out the day before the ALMS race at Road America in August as a blatant crowd pleaser, then the ALMS would really be on to something… 

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