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Endurance Racing: Petit Le Mans Update

9 June 1998

BRASELTON, Ga. -- The Petit Le Mans 1000 Miles at Road Atlanta will be held on Saturday, October 10, 1998. Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday and Friday, October 8 -9, 1998.

The "Petit Le Mans 1000 Miles at Road Atlanta" is part of an exclusive five-year agreement between the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and Panoz Motor Sports. Its goal is to increase the interest of U.S. automakers and race fans in sports car endurance racing by exposing them to some of the world's most exotic race cars.

Winners of the three classes of the 1998 Petit Le Mans 1000 Miles at Road Atlanta (Prototype, GT-1, and GT-2) will be exempt from pre-qualifying for the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. Second-place finishers will be invited to pre-qualify for the 1999 race.

Bonus prize money will be paid to teams that win both events outright or that win their categories (class victories) in each race.

"Le Mans is the greatest endurance race in the world, and has caught the imagination of every sports car racer and manufacturer," says Don Panoz, founder of Panoz Motor Sports. "We're thrilled to be a part of this historic agreement which brings the ACO -- and Le Mans -- to America.

"We intend to revitalize the appeal of endurance racing," says Panoz, "by increasing American participation in the sport. This effort includes hosting the Petit Le Mans 1000 Miles at Road Atlanta, and competing with our Panoz GTR-1 cars in the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans."

"L'Automobile Club de l'Ouest is proud to reach an agreement with Road Atlanta," says ACO president Michel Cosson. "We hope the coming event is a success for both parties." In addition, Cosson announced that the agreement would be used to establish closer ties between Atlanta and Le Mans.

According to ACO delegate Alain Bertaut, this agreement has been a long-term goal for the organizing body. "For years the ACO has been searching for an appropriate North American partner," says Bertaut. "We are delighted that our agreement with Don Panoz will enhance the image of endurance racing globally, especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, and the Petit Le Mans in the U.S."

Road Atlanta currently is undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift to bring it up to international standards. When completed, the track will be the premier road racing track in North America.

As part of the arrangement with the ACO, Road Atlanta has assembled an event management team that was present at the pre-qualification weekend and will be at Le Mans for the race week. Team members are:

        Mr. Bill Donaldson              General Manager
        Mr. Bob Barnard                 Race Operations
        Mr. Michael Gue                 Chief Steward
        Mr. Tres Stephenson             Circuit Operations
        Mr. Charlie Cook                Chief Scrutineer
        Mr. Ken Grogan                  Chief of Security

The team will work closely with the ACO officials during the 24 Hours of Le Mans preparations and the race itself to study how the event is staged.

The members of the Petit Le Mans team will then use the knowledge and experience gained during their inspections in the planning for the October race in the U.S. Officials from the ACO will also be present during the Petit Le Mans to provide advice to the management team.

In addition, Atlanta, Georgia, Mayor Bill Campbell has been asked by the ACO to participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as the race's Grand Marshall, furthering the relationship-building between the Sarthe region of France and Georgia.

The Road Atlanta Motorsport Center is part of the Panoz group of companies. These include Panoz Motor Sports, with race teams competing in the FIA GT World Sports Car Championship, and both the USRRC and Professional Sports Car Racing series; legendary Sebring International Raceway; Mosport Park; Panoz Auto Development, a manufacturer of limited-production, high-performance sports cars; and Chateau Elan, a four-star resort in northern Georgia.

The Petit Le Mans is an international invitational event held under the sanction of Professional Sports Car Racing, Inc., a member of ACCUS. (Permit No. 98-007 issued by PSR.)

The event will begin with technical inspection on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 6 and 7, 1998. Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday, October 8 and Friday, October 9, 1998. The race will commence on Saturday, October 10.

The Road Atlanta circuit is located approximately 50 miles NE of Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America. The circuit is 2.6 miles (4.3 km) in length with an estimated average lap speed of 130 mph (209 kph) for WSC cars. The circuit currently is being upgraded to meet FIA standards. Technical inspection will take place in a suitable location in Atlanta.

The race will be over a distance of 1000 miles or 10 hours whichever is achieved first. Start time is 11:00 am and finish is 9:00 pm or sooner. Sunset is approximately 7:00 pm, so the final two hours of the race will be run in the dark. Support races will be held for U.S. GT3, SPEEDVISION Cup, Sports Toyota and a Celebrity race. (See attached schedule.)

The race will be held under The Sporting Code of Professional Sports Car Racing, Inc. (SPORTS CAR Code). Cars must conform to the technical regulations of either the SPORTS CAR Code (PSR), the 1998 ACO (Le Mans 24 Hour) or the 1998 FIA GT Championship.

Eligible categories will be:    Category
Technical Regulations
                                World Sports Car/       WSC/
                                Le Mans Prototype       LMP1

                                Grand Touring 1         GT1

                                Grand Touring 2         GT2

The event will be part of the 1998 SPORTS CAR points championship. The winners of the three categories will be exempt from pre-qualifying for the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. The second-place finishers in each category will be invited to pre-qualify. The overall winner and category winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will qualify automatically for the 1999 Petit Le Mans race.

A travel fund will be established for European and Japanese teams. Prize money will total $300,000 US to be allocated between the categories. Bonus money will be offered as part of the World Endurance Cup as per the American Le Mans Series.

Entry forms for the Petit Le Mans will be sent to invited teams in June. Entries will close on September 1, 1998 The entry fee per car will be $3,750 US. This does not include the supply of fuel.

Significant worldwide television will be provided by the networks covering the 24 Hours of Le Mans. North American TV coverage is expected to be provided by Speedvision, Fox Sports Network or ESPN. Specific times and dates to be announced.

Hotel accommodations are available in the area surrounding the track or in Atlanta, which is approximately 45 minutes from the circuit. Road Atlanta personnel will assist overseas teams to locate suitable accommodations.

In October the average temperatures range from a low of 46 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Average rainfall for the month is 2.5 inches.