New Jersey Motorsports Park’s schedule could see some drastic changes in the next two years.
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 the following year will race under one banner.
Grand-Am, which is owned by NASCAR, was the first major series to race at NJMP when the Millville facility opened in 2008. It continues to be the second-most well-attended event annually at the park, behind the American Motorcyclist Association, which will be in Millville this weekend.
The merger throws the future of Grand-Am at NJMP into doubt, though. Grand-Am and ALMS plan to consolidate their schedules in 2014, meaning some tracks will be left out.
And for 2013, there was no guarantee Grand-Am would return to Millville even before the merger, NJMP general manager Brad Scott said in a phone interview Wednesday. Tracks negotiate contracts on a year-to-year basis, and Grand-Am is not expected to announce next year’s schedule until at least October.
“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.”
As for 2014, ALMS president and CEO Scott Atherton said at the news conference that the unified schedule probably will be 12 races.
Scott said he was told of the merger a few weeks ago but has not yet been given any assurances that NJMP will be in the new series’ plans for 2014.
“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 said he has had preliminary discussions with other series that have not raced before at NJMP, in case Grand-Am leaves.
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 was the operation of two more ALMS tracks: Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., and Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
Grand-Am, meanwhile, is 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 this year).
“We have a very positive relationship with them,” Scott said. “They enjoy coming here. But their business plan is changing slightly, so you never know.”
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.
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