The American Le Mans series conducted its inaugural "Wheels Down Winter Test" at Sebring International Raceway as cars from all four classes, including three reigning championship teams began preparation for America's oldest and longest running auto race - the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton hosted media from around the world at a luncheon in which he proclaimed America's fastest growing race series to be in "an unprecedented growth mode".
The following is a Q&A with Atherton based upon remarks to the media during the week, which featured the unveiling of the much anticipated Aston Martin race team and drivers.
Q. By what criteria do you claim that the ALMS is in an unprecedented growth mode?
A. First is spectator counts. Our 2004 season was our best ever, starting with Sebring last year in which attendance eclipsed even that of its 50th year in 2002. We saw a 15-20% growth rate at almost all of our events . Second is our TV ratings. We saw a 25% growth rate in our network TV ratings last year - the best ratings we've ever had. This in addition to our new three-year agreements with our TV partners CBS and SPEED . Third is sponsorships. These are the lifeblood of any series and we are up more than 100% from a year ago. We not only have new sponsors such as Klein Tools, MBQuart and ProSpeed GS610, but we are seeing significant increases with our existing corporate sponsorship renewals.