5. Launch of Asian Le Mans Series: After numerous attempts, the Asian Le Mans Series finally kicked off in 2013, featuring a modest four-round schedule. OAK Racing Team Total and driver David Cheng walked as champions in LMP2, while AF Corse picked up GTC class honors. Despite having started with only eight entries, the car count nearly doubled by the season finale, giving optimism towards an even larger field in 2014.
4. Allan McNish’s Retirement: In what came as a late-year shocker to many, sports car racing great Allan McNish announced his retirement from top-level prototype racing. The 43-year-old Scot had just won the FIA World Endurance Championship and notched his third overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, having enjoyed an ultra-successful career with Audi that also included three American Le Mans Series titles.
3. Daytona Prototype Safety Concerns: Pre-season TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Daytona was cut short for prototype teams after a pair of tire failures and subsequent airborne accidents for Coyote-chassied Corvette DPs. It included a massive end-over-end shunt for Richard Westbrook, whose Spirit of Daytona entry went up, and nearly over, the tri-oval catch fencing. Cars returned to the Florida high banks in December with reinforced tires and modified aero, which appears to have solved the issues.
2. GRAND-AM/ALMS Merger Process: Announced in September 2012, the merger process between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series stole the headlines for much of this year. The class structure was announced in January, prior to the unveiling of TUDOR as the entitlement sponsor and a new five-year TV deal with FOX Sports. Technical regulations began to be firmed up post-season, with on-track testing getting underway in November, leading up to the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
1. Sports Car Racing Deaths: 2013 was a dark year for endurance racing, with sports car stars Allan Simonsen and Sean Edwards both losing their lives in accidents. Simonsen was killed in an early race accident in the 24 Hours of Le Mans after losing control of his Aston Martin Vantage V8 while in the lead of the GTE-Am class. Edwards, meanwhile, died in the passenger’s seat of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car while instructing during a test session at Queensland Raceway in Australia. Both drivers’ deaths have prompted investigations into safety, particularly at Le Mans, where improvements are expected to be made for next year.24 Hours of Le Mans, Allan McNish, Sports Cars, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship