The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was founded in 1999 by entrepreneur Don Panoz. The series has a licensing agreement with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which is the sanctioning body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As a result, the ALMS rules are aligned with those used at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Within each race, four classes are competing for the overall victory, as well as the category win.

  • Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) – This is the fastest group. These are purpose-built race cars powered by a 6.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engine, which produces 750-800-horsepower. The vehicles could weigh no less than 900-kilograms (1,980-pounds) and car reach speeds over 200-mph. Teams enter cars manufactured by Riley & Scott, Lola, Dallara, Audi and Panoz.
  • Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) – The Le Mans Prototype 2 category was introduced in 2001 as LMP675. This group was renamed in 2004 when the minimum weight requirement was increased from 675-kilograms to 700-kilograms (1,653-pounds). The rules for the vehicles are written so that the two LMP classes (LMP1 and LMP2) could contend for the overall win.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – This class includes production-based cars such as the Dodge Viper GTS-R, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Saleen S7-R and Ferrari 550 Maranello. The vehicles are permitted to use 8.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engines, which produce 550-600-horsepowers. These cars are almost as quick as the Prototype achieving speeds of 180-195-mph.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT cars are restricted to a 1,100-kilogram weight rule. This category also included production-based vehicles. Competitors raced cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RSR and Ferrari 360 Modena. Unlike the GTS entries, teams in this category can not use carbon fiber brakes.

The ALMS schedule included nine North American events in 2004. The opening round is the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. The series takes an extended break to accommodate teams participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After Le Mans, teams travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for round two. Mid-Ohio is followed by Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park. In July, the series makes a west coast swing with race weekends at Infineon Raceway and Portland International Raceway. Next, teams travel north of the border for their only Canadian stop at Mosport International Raceway. Then it is back to the United States and a stop for competitors at Road America in Wisconsin. The penultimate round is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. This is an important weekend as it serves as a qualifying event for the 2005 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Class winners receive an automatic invitation to compete in the French classic. The 2004 season ends at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a four-hour race into the darkness.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course hosted round two of the 2004 American Le Mans Series. It followed the 24 Hours of Le Mans but would be the first of five events conducted over seven consecutive weekends. Teams would compete for two-hours, forty-five-minutes around the 2.25-mile thirteen-turn road course.

Twenty-four ALMS competitors head into Mid-Ohio’s ‘Esses’ for the first lap of round two. Missing from the lead group is the No. 16 Dyson Lola which was scheduled to start on the pole. An engine issue prevented the car from completing a race lap. Out front is the Champion Audi driven by the second-fastest qualifier, Marco Werner. Behind Werner is the second Dyson entry and the Chevrolet Corvettes that were gridded fifth and sixth.
Marco Werner went out early in the qualifying session and put the Champion Audi R8 on the pole. Near the end of qualifying, James Weaver in the Dyson Lola went faster, leaving him and his teammate, J.J. Lehto, in the second position. At the start of the contest, Werner inherited the top spot when the Lola encountered an engine issue. He and Lehto were challenged by the second Dyson entry early but won the event by a lap.
Johnny O’Connell qualified the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette and 0.526-seconds slower than his teammate, Oliver Gavin and would start second in GTS and sixth overall. Sharing the Corvette with O’Connell was Canadian, Ron Fellows. As expected, the GTS victory would go to one of the two Corvettes. The No. 4 entry led until a poorly timed pit-stop allowed the O’Connell/Fellows car to take the top spot and, ultimately, the win.
There was three 24 Hour of Le Mans class winners participating at Mid-Ohio. One of them was the LMP2 Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40 driven by William Binnie, Clint Field and Rick Sutherland. Field and Robin Liddell would share the Lola in round two. In qualifying, the team was eighth quickest and would start second in LMP2. When the pole-winning LMP2 entry pulled off on the first lap, it was an easy victory for Field and Liddell.
The No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3 RSR was shared by Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law. The pair topped the timesheets in practice. In qualifying, Law attempted to record his best time after the new Panoz oiled the track – he was fourth in GT. He drove the first part of the race and caught the leader, Timo Bernhard. During the driver change, van Overbeek left the pits first and never relinquished the position.
Qualifying the second Dyson Racing entry was Andy Wallace. He was as quick as the Audi and his teammate, James Weaver but at the end of the session, he and his teammate, Chris Dyson, would start third. Wallace drove the first stint and passed the Champion Racing Audi on lap-17. He led until the first round of pit-stops. Then Dyson took control of the car and chased J.J. Lehto, but he spun, trying to keep pace and finished second.
The No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette was shared by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, they were joined by Jan Magnussen and won the GTS category. At Mid-Ohio, Gavin grabbed the class pole early in the session and would start fifth overall. He took control of the GTS race in round two. Unfortunately, the team pitted before a caution period and lost their chance for victory to the No. 3 Corvette.
Timo Bernhard performed the qualifying duties for the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 RSR. In just two laps, he locked up the GT pole. Bernhard started the race and led until the first pit-stop. Quicker service by the Flying Lizards team dropped Bernhard’s co-driver, Jorg Bergmeister, to second in class. Bergmeister chased Johannes van Overbeek but could not make the pass. Despite an extra stop, the pair finished second in GT.
James Weaver waited until the last half of the qualifying session to grab the LMP1 and overall pole in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola EX257. Unfortunately, the battle between the No. 16 Lola and ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 never materialized. On the pace lap, Butch Leitzinger, Weaver’s teammate, retired with an oil pressure issue. The problem was later attributed to an oil pump failure.
Mid-Ohio witnessed the debut of two new factory affiliated Lamborghini Murcielago R.GT - fielded by Krohn-Barber Racing. Driving the Italian cars in the GTS category were David Brabham, Peter Kox, Scott Maxwell and Tracy Krohn. The car shared by Maxwell and Krohn was withdrawn Friday after contact with a Porsche. Brabham and Kox ran as high as third in class but at the checkered flag, they were fourth in GTS.
The LMP1 entry of the local favourites, Intersport Racing, had a difficult weekend. The team’s troubles started on Friday when Duncan Dayton spun the car into the tires and damaged the rear wing. On the first lap of qualifying, the differential broke while Jon Field was behind the wheel. Transmission problems appeared in the race but Field and Dayton managed to finish twentieth overall - a distant third in class.
Johnny Mowlem and Terry Borcheller shared the No. 63 Saleen S7.R. Borcheller qualified third in class - just 0.558-seconds behind the second Corvette. In the race, Borcheller was able to maintain pace with the Corvettes until a toe link broke. Repairs were made during the stop. Mowlem chased Olivier Beretta until the two made contact. He lost a position and before the end of the event, he passed the Lamborghini to finish third.
Sharing the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91 were Chris McMurry, Bryan Willman and team principal, Jeff Bucknum. Since Sebring, the team had replaced their 3.0-liter powerplant with a 3.4-liter IES engine. Initially, this appeared to be a good idea as Bucknum qualified fourth overall and first in LMP2 – more than two seconds quicker than the competition. Unfortunately, he would retire on lap-1 with a motor problem.
The third 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner entered at Mid-Ohio was the No. 31 Porsche GT3 RSR. At Le Mans, the Porsche was driven by Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen. This weekend the regular’s, David Murry and Craig Stanton returned to the driver’s seat. The team was gridded fifth in class for the start. They moved into third and chased the leaders but got caught behind the pace car and finished a distant third.
Another car debuting at Mid-Ohio was the Panoz Esperante GT-LM. The new Panoz competed in the GT division and was piloted by Gunnar Jeannette and David Saelens. The vehicle is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine built by Elan Power Products and is fitted with Pirelli tires. In qualifying, Saelens was second fastest before losing the engine. Issues during the race contributed to the team finishing twelfth in the GT category.
The ALMS podium for the class winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Starting on the left are the GT victors from Flying Lizards Motorsports, Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law. Next, are the top two drivers in the GTS category, Ron Fellows and John O’Connell. Beside Fellows and O’Connell are Clint Field and Robin Liddell, who captured LMP2. And, finally, J.J. Lehto and Marco Werner won the LMP1 class.

1P1Lehto / WernerAudi R8124-
2P1Dyson / WallaceLola EX257123-
3GTSFellows / O'ConnellChevrolet Corvette C5.R118-
4GTSGavin / BerettaChevrolet Corvette C5.R118-
5P2C.Field / LiddellLola B2K/40116-
6GTSBorcheller/ MowlemSaleen S7R113-
7GTSKox / BrabhamLamborghini Murcielago R-GT113-
8GTvan Overbeek / LawPorsche GT3RSR113-
9GTBernhard / BergmeisterPorsche GT3RSR113-
10GTMurry / Stanton/ PetersenPorsche GT3RSR112-
11GTWagner / Long Porsche GT3RSR112-
12P2Lally / EversleyLola B2K/40111-
13GTEhret / MatthewsPorsche GT3RSR110-
14GTBoss / PlumbPorsche GT3RS109-
15GTDumas / LiebPorsche GT3RSR108-
16GTHindery / Baron Porsche GT3RSR107-
17P2James / Macaluso / Gue Lola B2K/40106-
18P2van der Steur / van der Steur Lola B2K/40103Stopped
19GTPechnik / Neiman Porsche GT3RSR99-
20P1Field / DaytonLola B16080-
21GTJackson / Sugden Porsche GT3RSR76Electrical
22GTJeannette / Saelens Panoz Esperante GTLM69Mechanical
23GTKelleners / LazzaroFerrari 360 Modena GTC53Engine
24P1Weaver / LeitzingerLola EX2570Oil Pressure
25P2McMurry/Willman/BucknumPilbeam MP910Engine
26GTSWeickardt / BellocDodge Viper-Did Not Start
27GTSKrohn / MaxwellLamborghini Murcielago R-GT-Did Not Start

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