One of the most popular races at New Jersey Motorsports Park will look a lot different in 2014, if it's back at all.
The Grand-Am series announced a merger with the American Le Mans Series at a news conference Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The organizations will have separate schedules in 2013 but will race under one banner in 2014.
Grand-Am was the first major series to race at NJMP when the Millville facility opened in 2008. It continues to be the second-largest drawing event annually at the park, behind the American Motorcyclist Association, which will be in Millville this weekend.
An ALMS official said at the news conference that the new schedule likely will be 12 races.
This year, Grand-Am's 13-race schedule and ALMS's 10-race slate - both of which still are going on - have only three tracks in common: Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.; and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Also included in the merger were the operation of two more ALMS tracks: Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., and Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
Grand-Am, meanwhile, remains headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla., and holds its premier race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, at Daytona International Speedway.
Assuming those six tracks are a starting point for the 2014 schedule, that leaves NJMP as one of 16 other tracks vying for a spot (Watkins Glen, N.Y., hosted two of Grand-Am's 13 races).
The remaining ALMS tracks are in Long Beach, Calif.; Monterey, Calif.; Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada; Baltimore; and Danville, Va. The remaining Grand-Am tracks along with Millville are in Birmingham, Ala.; Homestead, Fla.; Detroit; Watkins Glen, N.Y.; Indianapolis; Montreal; and Salinas, Calif.
NJMP General Manager Brad Scott said in a phone interview Wednesday that he had been given no assurances about remaining on the schedule.
“It’s an active conversation,” Scott said. “They just requested that they get through this merger, which is kind of keeping them occupied right now.”
Scott went on to say that there is not even a guarantee for 2013.
“You never know,” Scott said. “They change tracks. Grand-Am has been going a different direction. They’re going more under the NASCAR umbrella … and have fewer and fewer focus events where they’re the main event.”
If NJMP makes the cut, though, the 2014 race there could be the best yet.
Grand-Am's top race, the Rolex Series, featured only 10 entries in its premier Daytona Prototype class this year in Millville.
While specifics still are being determined, the Rolex series undoubtedly will get a boost from joining forces with the ALMS.
“Today’s announcement will transform sports car racing on this continent, along with having world-wide industry implications,” Grand-Am President and CEO Ed Bennett said in quotes provided by the organization. “Aside from the organizations involved, everybody wins: drivers, teams, manufacturers, sponsors, tracks – and most all, the fans.
“This new approach is going to be revolutionary, as we take the best components from two premium brands, combine them and then benefit mutually from the considerable resources both sides will bring to our efforts."