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Big Changes In 2012 For Rolex Grand Am Series

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On: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 10:35AM | By: John Welch

Big Changes In 2012 For Rolex Grand Am Series

The AutoShopper Blog has been religious in our coverage of two of North America's premier road racing series, The American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Grand Am Series. We covered the changes in the ALMS in previous posts, but have only just now had some light shed on the changes for Grand Am, which we will see in 2012. The ALMS is getting smaller, LMP1 is going to downsize to LMP2-size power plants, and LMP2 is going to switch to straight-up production-based engines such as Ford's EcoBoost V6. The prototypes will all get slightly smaller, and there is a new "big honking fin" that will be added to the engine cover of all LMPs in an attempt to prevent blow-over type accidents. Grand Am solved that problem in 2003 by implementing an enormous cockpit and huge side pods on all Daytona Prototype chassis. These features have worn out their welcome, the DP chassis design has proven to be a safe one, and now it's time to let the engine manufacturers loose on the DP's bodywork, effectively clearing the way for Daytona Prototypes that closely resemble the design language used by their engine providers.

Before 2012 I would have recognized the Krohn DP as a Ford/Lola, whereas a layman wouldn't have had any idea what they were looking at. Hopefully, for the 2012 season, everyone, from veteran fans to the freshly initiated, will be able to recognize this car as a FORD. The Ganassi Rileys will be obvious BMWs, and GM-powered cars will be unmistakable as one Chevrolet sports car or another.
The GT field will change as well. Realizing the need for higher car counts and greater variety, Grand Am is already allowing GT3 Audi R8 machines in for next season, and will hopefully expand that rule to all FIA GT3 machines. Grand Am is not forgetting its current GT teams either; currently they are working on a rules set that will allow the GT3 cars and the current crop of Production 1 (road cars like the Corvette) and Production 2 (tube frame Riley chassis like the Mazda RX8 and Chevy Camaro) to race under the same classification.

Despite a disturbing economic climate that is supposedly ruining racing as we know it, it is an exciting time for the two best professional series in the world, and Grand Am isn't resting on their success. 2012 looks to be an incredible season for the Rolex Series.

Driver's Office And Shorter Side Pods: The aim for 2012, if Marshall Pruett is to be believed, is to make the cars more attractive while retaining the basic safety philosophy that fathered the "Daytona Prototype" in the first place. Exactly how the Series goes about adjusting the roll cage to allow for a more streamlined driver compartment is not yet clear, but the fact that they are working on it is good enough for me. Side pods, the portion of the bodywork that surrounds the cockpit and usually houses brake ducts, radiators, etc., is another area being looked at.

Andy Blackmore Design, a man and company responsible for every modern spotters guide we have enjoyed in recent years, has come up with a very thorough design study that explores these changes and a few of the possible options manufacturers might have for making their cars more identifiable. In the graphic below you can clearly see the updates proposed by Andy and SPEED's Marshall Pruett. The cockpit stays the same height but is narrowed and elongated. The nose of the car is stretched out and features a more aerodynamic shape. There is an obvious shut-line between the front clip and the cockpit. Take a look at the graphic; there are many other exciting changes being proposed here.

Honestly, Mr. Blackmore went nuts with his Photoshop. We have here mockups of a Porsche DP, a Mazda, a Ford, a BMW, and a Corvette Racing DP, just for fun. Check our sources below for all of the juicy details; these are two articles that are definitely worth reading . . .

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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