Grand Prix of Miami Set for April 27-29

Ganassi Racing at HMS

The Grand Prix of Miami will feature two classes of racing machines competing simultaneously in a timed test of endurance (photo courtesy: Brian Cleary, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

Next spring, Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as host to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Grand Prix of Miami, with the Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring classes both set to run in South Florida in April. The Grand Prix of Miami will take center stage as Race 3 of the 2012 campaign on the 2.3-mile road course.

“Miami has a stellar sports car-racing tradition, and this is America’s most competitive road-racing series,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matt Becherer. “The Grand Prix of Miami Weekend is a very unique opportunity to get up close with the best sports car drivers in the world. And rest assured that we’ll continue our tradition of unparalleled fan amenities, as we welcome fans into the infield and on to Pit Road; feature driver meet-and-greets and autograph sessions; and continue our policy of admitting all kids 12 and under FREE of charge.”

GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competitors will compete for an exciting new three-race endurance championship, highlighting the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule announced today.

The inaugural North American Endurance Championship will feature the 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 28-29, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 29-July 1 and GRAND-AM’s three-hour debut race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Super Weekend at the Brickyard on July 27.

The 13-race schedule also includes GRAND-AM’s first visit to Detroit – the automotive capital of the world – with the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Challenge at Belle Isle on June 2, and the return to many of North America’s premier circuits, including Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.; Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio; Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.; Homestead-Miami Speedway; New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J.; and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

“This is without doubt the strongest schedule in GRAND-AM history,” said GRAND-AM President Tom Bledsoe. “Highlights are everywhere you look …new races, new places – and a new three-race championship. We’re going to be making a lot of sports car history in 2012.”

The North American Endurance Championship will be open to competitors in both the Daytona Prototype and production-based GT classes. The championship’s point structure and purse will be announced in the near future. Awards for the series will be awarded at dusk on the Victory Podium at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, following the historic race on the 2.605-mile road course.

In addition to featuring GRAND-AM’s solid lineup in both classes, several top teams have indicated they will field additional cars with all-star drivers to compete in the three endurance races.

“I think the North American Endurance Championship adds more excitement to an already exciting schedule,” said four-time Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champion Scott Pruett. “The Rolex 24 is clearly the highlight of our season, and I’m very excited with the addition of Indianapolis. The new championship gives further emphasis on our three endurance races.”

The Rolex Series will also run with the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen International, and with the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Two Rolex Series events will be in companion with IndyCar, at Detroit and Barber.

Following the season-opening events at Daytona and Barber, the Rolex Series moves to Homestead-Miami Speedway, followed by a visit to New Jersey Motorsports Park. Following the Detroit Belle Isle race, the series returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Cars on June 9. In addition, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s event shifts to September.

The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will run in conjunction with the Rolex Series at 10 of the 13 weekends, including Indianapolis.

The potential season-ending events for both series are still to be announced.

The Grand Prix of Miami debuted in the spring of 1983 and was long a fixture as the second major sports car event of the season following the Rolex 24 At Daytona (again the case in 2011). The event was held in Miami’s Bayfront Park before moving to Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1995. GRAND-AM began sanctioning the event in 2000.

Drivers who have competed in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series include NASCAR Champions Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch; IndyCar Champions Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon; South Florida-residents Juan Pablo Montoya (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star) and Helio Castroneves (three-time Indy 500 winner); and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas—who won the 2011 GRAND-AM Championship—will look to pick up where Ganassi’s IndyCar team left off when Dario Franchitti netted his fourth IndyCar Championship in October.

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