Can the DTM work in America? The idea has been bandied about for five years by the DTM and NASCAR’s Grand-Am sports car racing division.
In New York City on Tuesday evening the idea was announced as an official concept, planned to come to life in 2015 or ‘16. To be organised by the Grand-Am and IMSA’s merged United SportsCar Series, the American DTM series will comprise eight races lasting 70-75 minutes and is expected to appear at some of the best road racing circuits in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The American DTM hopes to attract factory-backed teams from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz as well as Honda, Nissan and Toyota from Japan. Representatives from the German manufacturers were present at Tuesday’s announcement in New York to declare their commitment to the new series and the boss of Japan’s Super GT series said via a video feed from Japan that his series will work hand in glove with the new US series. Briefings have also been made to the American manufacturers to attempt to draw them into the US DTM with some of their premium brands.
Grand-Am godfather Jim France and his underlings have been talking to the DTM and its manufacturers about this idea since 2008. This week’s announcement comes a few months after the confirmation of the Grand-Am and ALMS/IMSA’s plans to merge in 2014 and should strengthen the card of races staged most weekends by the United SportsCar Series.
America provides the biggest single market for each of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz so the German manufacturers have been pushing hard for the US version of the DTM. If the new series is able to attract additional factory-backed teams from the Japanese and American maufacturers it’s likely to be successful. The formula will remain the same as the current DTM with front-mounted 2-litre turbo engines, a carbon fibre central tub and rear-mounted transmissions. The DTM’s organisers say they will work with NASCAR to continue to control costs from escalating beyond reason.
This move further consolidates NASCAR’s domination of North American motor racing. The Grand-Am/ALMS merger means NASCAR now controls Sebring and Road Atlanta in addition to Watkins Glen and a dozen major oval tracks. Everyone hopes NASCAR’s irresistable power will help push the American DTM forward, but there are also fears that the Daytona Beach-based organisation has become too much of a monopolist.
Still, the hope is that the new series will add some needed spice to the American racing scene. The US DTM series is likely to race at places like Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Austin, Mosport and Mexico City, so if it can pull together as strong a field as hoped it has every chance of becoming a long term success. We’ll be watching with interest.