Driver ColumnsSam Tickell (Editor)

Looking back at Petit Le Mans and thoughts for looking forward

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The Rebellion team of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani celebrate winning the final ALMS race (photo: Rebellion Racing)
The Rebellion team of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani celebrate winning the final ALMS race (photo: Rebellion Racing)

Last weekend was certainly the end of an era.  You probably know by now, that I am – well, was a massive ALMS fan.  There was something about the regional series – both the ALMS and ELMS that I loved.  Despite falling grids and rule sets that really benefit the WEC rather than the national series, I never stopped loving the ALMS and ELMS.  While the ELMS survives, the ALMS came to an end.  While a new era will begin (and will be great) in 2014, the end of the ALMS is something to ponder.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMuUUYsu6Q&feature=share&list=UUzUOKCa4-PclYs9kdSC1F-A

It was an era that allowed technological innovation, manufacturer interest.  It was a series that harked backed to the IMSA GTP days, big teams, big races, big crowds.  Like the end of the IMSA GTP days, sportscar will enter a phase where innovation – particularly in the prototype classes won’t be allowed, where racing will be controlled, costs will be controlled.

But the last race – Petit Le Mans was a great race – with a few issues deciding on who was Champion.  Rebellion came back to win, Falken took an unlikely GT win.

It is rare that we get to write about lasts, we did with Champ Car and now Grand Am and ALMS teams, fans and journos do the same.

Last pitstops

Last green flags

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mSmp6opU_s&feature=share&list=UUzUOKCa4-PclYs9kdSC1F-A

Last overall winners

This race also reminded us of the tough year we’ve had this year.  After the passing of Allan Simonsen, we lost Sean Edwards in a driver coaching accident at Queensland Raceway.  He will never be forgotten in sportscar, and his team NGT ran a special livery to remember him.  For me, I was laid up in bed sick when I heard of the news, and while I never met Sean, I know the guys that were there at the track, and I know people that know him.  I remember the feelings of when Simonsen passed.  I know the tragedy that the sport faced. The sport is safe but there will always be risks and it is hard when things like this happen.  2013 has been a tough year, and we hope we don’t have to go through another year like this.

As we just have WEC left for the major  2013 sportscar season, we hope that 2014 will be great.  We will not have the pain of losing drivers, though we will remember those lost.  We will remember the great times of Grand Am and ALMS and we will look forward with eager anticipation for the United Sports Car Championship and hope for a great year.

By Sam Tickell, October 2013

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