Viper withdraws from GTLM; Chrysler’s decision

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New TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class champions SRT Motorsports will not be back to defend their title in 2015.

The team has announced a withdrawal, effective immediately, from the series to instead focus on the Dodge brand.

A statement released Monday reads:

Chrysler Group LLC announced today that it is discontinuing the factory-backed SRT® (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports racing program in IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) with the conclusion of the 2014 season. This decision affects participation in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R GTLM-class team. The Dodge brand will redirect its focus and efforts on the brand’s product lineup.

“Our company has made a business decision to discontinue the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program,” said Ralph Gilles, Senior Vice President of Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC. “We are very proud of the amazing achievements our fantastic teams, drivers and partners have achieved on track the last few seasons. We thank them for their hard work, effort and commitment to SRT Motorsports. It’s been an honor to be a part of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season and we wish them every success in the future.”

IMSA has released a statement as well, via President and COO Scott Atherton:

“Since returning to a factory-backed sports car program midseason in 2012, the Chrysler Group was an ardent supporter of IMSA with a two-car team that competed most recently in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans category alongside a robust off-track marketing program. They have made a business decision to redirect focus to other areas of their core business.

“On behalf of IMSA, I’d like to congratulate the SRT Motorsports team and drivers – including 2014 GTLM champion Kuno Wittmer – and everybody involved with building a winning Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R program. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments together next Monday at our TUDOR Night of Champions in New York. Our door always will remain open should they wish to return to top-level sports car racing in the future.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).