Earlier reports of a merger between the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series have proven to be well founded today, as representatives from both series have confirmed that the merger is indeed taking place.
Grand-Am founder Jim France and ALMS founder Don Panoz stated jointly this afternoon that the new sports car racing series, as yet unnamed, will kick off with its first joint race at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014. The new series is likely to present a schedule of some 12 races per year, though each series will continue on independently for the 2013 season.
While no confirmation of the exact racing-class structure has been given yet, a continuation of the popular Prototype and GT classes seems likely. Evidence for this came in the form of some Grand-Am and ALMS cars on display for the announcement: a Corvette Daytona Prototype, SRT Viper GTS-R and a Lola B12/80 Judd, amongst others.
France (the son of legendary NASCAR founder, Bill France Sr.) will take on the role of Chairman for the new series, with Panoz serving as Vice Chairman.
Some larger support from NASCAR is seemingly in evidence, too, with three members of that series' executive structure serving as board members for the new sports car racing tie-up.
For their part, early response to the announcement on the part of participating automakers seems bullish. Jamie Allison, Director of Ford Racing, called the event an "epic moment for sports car racing in America." Echoing those sentiments, Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of SRT, said in a press release, "Congratulations to both leadership teams for unifying their efforts to create what will certainly be an amazing new series featuring outstanding sports car competition at some of the most legendary race courses."