Useful Notes / United Sports Car Championship
Currently America's premier series for sports car endurance racing, formed in 2014 from the merger of two rival sanctioning bodies - the Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series.
- Rolex was founded in 1999 under the auspices of the Grand-Am Road Racing Association, which was run by members of the NASCAR community and was eventually purchased outright by NASCAR Holdings in 2008 in an effort to more efficiently run both racing bodies. Even without this, it was always heavily tied to NASCAR due to the use of a special road course setup at Daytona International Speedway, which has hosted a 24-hour endurance race since 1962. The organization originally bore some resemblence to the various Le Mans series, particularly in the Prototype classes, but diverged significantly starting with the introduction of its own unique prototypes in 2003.
- American Le Mans Series (ALMS) also began in 1999 by Don Panoz, in partnership with Automobile Club de L'Ouest, the sanctioning body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which allowed it to use the exact same cars as used in that race, although some classes were dropped or modified at various points in the series' existence. During its existence, the series played host to one of America's oldest endurance races, the 12 Hours of Sebring, run since 1952.
The two organizations announced the merger in late 2012, and revealed the class structure for the new series in March 2013 at Sebring. The classes are as follows:
- Prototype (P) - A class that merges the former Daytona Prototype class from the Rolex Sports Car series with Le Mans Prototype Class 2.
- Prototype Challenge (PC) - A single-spec class that uses the open-cockpit Oreca FLM09 chassis also found in LMP2. This class was carried over intact from ALMS.
- GT Le Mans (GTLM) - Also carried over intact from ALMS, this is the GT class found in that series' 2013 schedule, which complies with the GTE Pro class from the 24 Hours of Le Mans (and by extension, the World Endurance Championship).
- GT Daytona (GTD) - Another merger class, in this case combining the GT and GXnote classes from Rolex with the GT Challenge class from ALMS.
Sponsorship comes from Tudor, a "discount" watch brand owned by Rolex, which has sponsored the 24 Hours of Daytona since 1991. The schedule consists of various events carried over from both the previous series, including Daytona, Sebring, the Six Hours of Watkins Glen (carried over from Rolex) and the 10 hour long Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (carried over from ALMS),note
which together comprise a sub-championship called the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). While all classes will run together at the endurance races, some of the shorter events will exclude one or more classes.
Champions of the inaugural season are as follows:
- P: Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa shared honors as co-drivers of the Action Express #5; they (and Sebastian Bourdais, who returned for Sebring and Petit Le Mans) were the inaugural overall race winners of the series as well, taking the first Rolex 24 under USCC sanctioning, and snagged the overall at Indianapolis and Road America as well.
- PC: Jon Bennett and Colin Braun, co-drivers of the #54 CORE Autosport team. This squad also took three of the four endurance events in PC (with James Gue also co-driving the NAEC events, and Mark Wilkins on board for Daytona), missing only Petit Le Mans. They also snagged the PC-only races at Kansas.
- GTLM: Kuno Wittmer took sole honors in this class, driving the #93 SRT Motorsports team until the finale, when he hopped to the same team's #91. The team failed to win any endurance races, instead winning the class at Indy and Circuit of the Americas.
- GTD: Dane Cameron took sole honors here, driving Turner Motorsport'snote #94, which took the GTD class at Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, Road America and VIR.