Penske ALMS Team Heads to Salt Lake City

May 13, 2008


ATLANTA (May 13, 2008) - When owner Larry Miller had famous sports car course architect Alan Wilson design Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City four years ago, he wanted to make sure the facility was versatile enough to accommodate many different needs - sports car racing, motorcycle racing, club racing, corporate and private facility rentals and more. For the first two years of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) appearances at Miller Motorsports Park, the cars ran the full course, a 24-turn, 4.5-mile race circuit, the longest on the 11-race schedule. Other configurations include breaking up the full course into two 2.24-mile circuits, each with their own challenges, but for the ALMS feature race this Sunday, the teams will use the fourth choice, a 15-turn, 3.048-mile course which goes around the outer section of the full course, eliminating all of the infield turns.

Sunday’s event, known as The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels will start at 3:05 p.m. EDT, and will be carried live nationally on SPEED channel (3 to 6 p.m. EDT). All track sessions starting Friday morning will be scored live on, and qualifying and race action will be broadcast on American Le Mans radio, also at Photos and race stories on the Porsche competitors will be filed at (click on Motorsports news).

Despite the shortened version of the track, the twisty circuit is still regarded as one of the most demanding on the calendar.  “It has actually become more difficult to find the optimal set-up,” says Sascha Maassen (Germany), who secured an overall victory with the Penske Porsche RS Spyder last year after claiming an LMP2 class win at the debut on this track in 2006.

With his teammate Patrick Long (USA), Maassen tested at Miller Motorsports Park last month as the engineers tried to find the best possible setup for the 476 horsepower sports prototype from Weissach for this new challenge.  Maassen’s impressions of the track: “It’s a great track. Despite the shortening of the circuit there are still a lot of corners that suit us very well. But you also drive on the long straight more often and that is certainly not to our advantage.”

Patrick Long agrees with this assessment but is equally as optimistic: “We don’t have to take a back seat. In the past we have found solutions to tougher problems than this.”   (Long gives a full narration of Miller Motorsports Park at

Penske Racing, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, will field two RS Spyder at Miller - Sascha Maassen and Patrick Long will drive the No. 6 RS Spyder, with teammates Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) in the matching No. 7 car. The Bernhard/Dumas tandem are first in the LMP2 class point standings after the first three races of the season, with an overall win (Sebring) and two class wins (Sebring and St. Petersburg). Porsche is also first in manufacturer’s chassis and engine points and Penske Racing leads the team championship points race.

After two street races in St. Petersburg and Long Beach, ALMS returns to a permanent race track in Salt Lake City, which is the first of five straight races on traditional courses (Salt Lake City, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Mosport). Maassen explains the greatest difference. “On a city circuit you are more mentally stressed because you know exactly where you must not make a mistake otherwise you end up in the wall. As a contrast you’ve got a lot of corners on this circuit with correspondingly high lateral acceleration. It doesn’t matter how well you have trained, after a couple of corners your neck hurts.”

After testing last month, Maassen added that the car should be ready to go, but the team will still have to work hard in practice on Friday to sort out final details.

The American Le Mans Series continues on its upward trend in 2008: An average of 106,000 spectators came to the first three races of the season, marking an increase of 3.2 percent over last year. The number of television viewers in the U.S.A. rose by 37 percent, bolstered by flag-to-flag coverage by SPEED at Sebring and two races on ABC-TV.