Excitement permeated the air in Buckhead this past week when much of the local racing fraternity met at the Grand Re-Opening of Joel’s, which is one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants. The renowned French chef re-opened to the fan fare of a racing theme and celebrities from the American Le Mans Series, including driver Ryan Briscoe (Penske Racing) and Cumming based drivers Jim Tafel and Nathan Swartzbaugh (Tafel Racing). Perhaps the stars of the event, however, were the actual Penske Porsche RS Spyder prototype and the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that were on display. Nevertheless, lots of bench racing, great food, and champagne were enjoyed by all.
(Left to Right) Jim Tafel (Owner/Driver for Tafel Racing in Cumming), Nathan Swartzbaugh (Driver for Tafel Racing), and one of their GT 2 Porsche race cars. Picture taken during the Grand Re-Opening of Joel’s restaurant in Buckhead.
That event was followed with Ryan Briscoe signing autographs on Sunday afternoon adjacent to his Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder prototype at Lenox. Then this past Wednesday, Six teams from the American Le Mans Series rolled into Road Atlanta for an all-day test session in preparation for the 10th annual Petit Le Mans that will be held at Road Atlanta 3-6 October. These tests have normally been closed to the media and public but Michelin, who had scheduled the tests, agreed to a two-hour media exclusive window for the press. It was certainly an interesting and informative opportunity. The teams who participated included:
Penske Racing (Ryan Briscoe & Sascha Maassen)
Andretti Green (Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Bryan Herta)
Audi Sport North America (Allan McNish & Dindo Capello)
Highcroft Racing (David Brabham & Stefan Johansson)
Corvette Racing (Johnny O’Connell & Oliver Gavin)
Dyson Racing (Chris Dyson, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Lally)
The next event that is open to the public will be at Atlantic Station/Fox Sports Grill from 6 to 9 pm on Tuesday, October 2. This outing will include a driver autograph session, Xbox Forza2 simulators, pit stop demonstration, American Le Mans Series cars on display, plus a 2-hour live 790 The Zone show featuring Series drivers (David Brabham, Luis Diaz , Jim Tafel, Patrick Long, Sascha Maassen, Peter Dumbreck, Johannes van Overbeek, Jorg Bergmeister, and Nathan Swartzbaugh.
The last highlight leading up to the qualifying and racing at Road Atlanta will be at the Andretti Indoor Karting facility at 11000 Alpharetta Highway from 6 to 10 pm on Wednesday, October 3. Andretti Green which fields one of the top Acura prototype teams on the American Le Mans circuit, will conduct a charity fundraiser for the Susan B. Komen breast cancer research. AGR will bring much of its talented driver stable to the event, including Dario Franchitti, Brian Herta, Marina Franchitti, Marco Andretti, and of course, the old master,Mario Andretti.
With all of the big name drivers, so many different teams involved this year, much faster cars, and a newly paved and improved track at Road Atlanta, the next two weeks and the coming 1000 mile race should prove to be the best Petit yet! For more information, call toll-free: 800.849.7223.