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Grand-Am Off-Season Updates

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On: Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 5:35PM | By: John Welch

Grand-Am Off-Season Updates

We are mired in the racing dead-zone between November and February, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of news as race teams prepare for the 2010 campaign.

Grand-Am will see a number of changes after the winter break: a new title sponsor for the Sports Car Challenge, teams adding and subtracting the number of cars they field, and new models racing, just to name a few. Herein we have an update to the goings-on behind the off-season scenes . . .

New sponsor brings a new series name: Continental Tire has signed on to sponsor the Grand-Am Sports Car series for 2010, changing the series name to the "GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge". Koni, makers of various suspension parts was the former title sponsor. Naturally, Continental becomes the Sports Car Challenge's sole tire-supplier.

Continental Tire was looking for a high-profile means to advertise its race-bred street tires. Tires used in the Sports Car Challenge's GS and ST classes will be very similar to their consumer market cousins. Grand-Am and Continental have been working together for months to ensure they field durable, usable tires that will add to the excitement of Grand-Am racing.

"GRAND-AM Road Racing is one of the highest-caliber racing series in the world and we are proud and excited to be a part of it. We’re looking forward to the start of the 2010 season," said Bill Caldwell, vice president of sales and marketing, Continental Tire. "This entitlement sponsorship adds an entirely new dimension to our marketing strategy to promote the Continental brand. The exclusive and official tire status will help to emphasize the performance capabilities of the ExtremeContact tire lines."

New Stevenson Camaro GT.R ready to roll: Having already debuted in the Koni (Errr, "Continental") Sports Car Challenge last season, the Chevy Camaro is ready to go mix it up with the big boys in the Rolex series. Stevenson has raced a Pratt & Miller Pontiac for several seasons, and are moving to Chevrolet for 2010. The chassis remains essentially the same, but the car is being rebodied as a Camaro. Stevenson is confident the car will be ready for the Rolex/Daytona 24; the team is concentrating on aero developments for the first half of 2010.

"Two years with the (Pontiac G6) GXP.R gave us more wins than any other team in GT, but we fell short both years in the Team and Driver’s Championship. For 2010 we are taking a big gamble by having to learn a new car, but most of the running gear will be the same, so we will be doing a lot of aero work at this first test. We have been so busy trying to build new cars that we really have no idea what to expect in this year's championship, but the guys are working through the holidays to give us the best advantage possible. We are definitely making things difficult on ourselves, but that’s when we seem to do best," said John Stevenson, team owner. "Besides the Camaro being the hottest new musclecar in the marketplace, we have two years of experience with the chassis in the Pontiac and we can transfer the same drive train and chassis - with updates - to the new Camaro body and not lose any of our hard-earned data. All of our spare parts apply to the Camaro as well. With Pratt & Miller we are also going with probably the world's premiere chassis builder."

The plan for the first round of testing is simple, according to Steveson: "We intend to shake down the re- configured car as a Camaro and try to learn about and define the aero-changes between the Pontiac and the Camaro bodies." Righteous. Replacing the frumpy GXP.Rs with Camaros is alright by me. Although it hasn't produced any championships, Steveson has been the most consistent team in the GT class over the last two years - they have more outright victories than any other team.

The story of Gainsco, Chevrolet, and two Jimmys: Pontiac, as we all know, is dead'ern'hell. Which means there is no Pontiac engine to power the multi-championship-winning Gainsco team. A switch to the iconic Chevrolet small-block is a no-brainer, and Gainsco is doing just that. The five-liter mill is a destroked R07, the block used by Jimmy Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports to win the last four NASCAR CellPhoneCigaretteInsuranceCompanyLightBeer Cups. Essentially the same as the Pontiac it replaces, the fuel-injected push-rod design has proven to be one of the most reliable engines currently used in Grand-Am racing.

In addition to announcing their new engine choice, the Gainsco/Bob Stallings team also put in their entries for the 2010 Rolex 24 - the first team to do so. Returning this year to drive the number 99 car are Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. This championship-winning pair will be teamed up with Jimmy Vasser and Jimmy Johnson in a second car. With an astounding driver lineup and a new car, Gainsco is chomping at the bit to get the 2010 battle under way.

Turner to tackle Rolex GT with new M6: Turner Motorsports, yellow and blue-liveried hero's of many North American racing series, have decided to enter the Rolex GT with their most track-focused car to date. Not much is known about the Turner M6 - it's my speculation that this is a Pratt & Miller Pontiac chassis with BMW engine and suspension installed, but what do I know? The car is criminally Yellow (all Turner cars have to be), its body panels don't sit comfortably, and everyone knows the real action is in the ALMS GT2. Who cares? TheV10 engine note could wake the dead, and it's nice to see that there is room in American road racing for lightning-fast silhouette racers that aren't powered by GM small-blocks.

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Plove | 2:01PM (Tue, Dec 8, 2009)

damn I will take that sexy v10 even if it is yellow.

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