POUGHKEEPSIE, NY October 16, 2013 — September 18, 1999 marked the first Petit Le Mans under the aegis of the American Le Mans Series. The event came off without a hitch, and Don Panoz and his new for 1999 American Le Mans Series celebrated another successful inaugural-year race. It was the kind of memorable racing event that over time would make the Petit Georgia’s largest single-day sporting event and one of international sports car racing’s true classic endurance races.
At the 1999 race, the number 20 Dyson Racing car with James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson qualified eighth out of forty-nine entries for the 1,000 mile Road Atlanta race and finished fourth in their Riley & Scott Mark III Ford. The result was a crucial one as the team was fighting to defend successive 1997 and 1998 IMSA series championships. Two races later at the season-ending race in Las Vegas, Nevada, Elliott Forbes-Robinson would take home the inaugural American Le Mans Series Drivers’ Championship, concluding a season where the 57 year-old veteran star had also won the Rolex Daytona 24 Hours with Dyson Racing for the second time.
Over the years at the Petit Le Mans, Dyson Racing has two class wins, three class poles and four class podiums including a class win in 2009. The team also has one overall pole and two overall podiums. Guy Smith was second overall with Chris Dyson in 2005 in his second race with the team, and the year before, Chris Dyson and Jan Lammers were third. In 2011, Dyson and Smith were first in ALMS P1, adding to their first place driver’s championship points for the year. Last year they repeated their Petit prowess and came home first again in ALMS P1.
Joining Chris Dyson this year for the last race of the American Le Mans Series will be Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry. This will be the fourth race for them this year in the #16 Lola Mazda. They were second in P1 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race and second overall at both Road America and at the Circuit of the Americas.
Tony Burgess drove the number 20 Dyson entry at last year’s Petit Le Mans with Chris McMurry and Mark Paterson and took home third place ALMS P1 points. He started racing in the ALMS in 2000. Burgess has raced in the series thirteen of its fifteen years and has a total of seventeen 24 hour races to his credit.
Chris McMurry’s first Petit Le Mans was in 2001 and he has also raced in the series for thirteen years. There are eleven drivers in this year’s race that were driving in his first Petit in 2001. Of those eleven, only four were in prototypes then and now: Chris McMurry, Klaus Graf, David Brabham and Stefan Johansson. In addition, Tony Burgess has sixty-two ALMS starts, Chris McMurry sixty-eight, and Chris Dyson one hundred and seven, giving the Dyson driving trio a total of two hundred and thirty-seven starts – among the most of any pairing at this year’s event. A lot of great team memories in all of those races as we bid a fond farewell to the American Le Mans Series at its last race.