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Old July 3rd, 2001, 04:33 PM   #1
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ALMS cars at Golden Gate Bridge


NEWS -- July 3, 2001

Le Mans Sports Cars Roar Across Golden Gate Bridge In "Buckle-Up Safety Drive" on Wednesday, July 18 ALMS

SONOMA, Calif. July 3, 2001 - The skilled drivers of the American Le Mans Series have graced legendary circuits from Le Mans (France) to Sebring (Fla.), but they will be in for a special treat on Wednesday, July 18. A San Francisco treat, to be exact.
These drivers will pilot their exotic sports cars across the Golden Gate in the "Buckle-Up Drive Across the Golden Gate Bridge." The drive is intended to raise awareness of the importance of seat belt use while driving a motor vehicle.

The drivers and cars of the American Le Mans Series will be in town for The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma, presented by ACDelco and Fosterís Lager, at Sears Point Raceway, July 20-22.

According to the California Highway Patrol, seat belt usage in California has jumped from 35 percent in the 1980s to 89.8 percent today. Morever, Marin County has the highest compliance rate in the state at nearly 100 percent. Properly worn seat belts are still considered the most important safety equipment and the most significant factor in the reduction of the death rate on Californiaís highways.

"Usage of seat belts in California is already at a high level, but itís events like this that raise awareness even more, and that is a good thing," said Mark Bunger, a CHP officer. "Seat belts save lives and everyone should use them."

Drivers from such legendary teams like Audi, BMW, Panoz and Porsche will participate in the ride across the Golden Gate. These are the same drivers and cars from the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is run annually in France.

"I think this will be one of the most exciting moments of my life. Iíve driven Formula One cars at many of the worldís circuits, but to drive a race car across one of the most famous bridges in the world is something I canít describe. My heart is beating faster now just thinking about it. I am proud for myself and BMW," said Hans Stuck, who will pilot a BMW M3 across the Golden Gate Bridge for BMW Team PTG.

These are the fastest cars that grace Sears Point Racewayís twisting 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course each year, traveling in excess of 180 mph on certain segments of the track. But they will slow to a speed of 45 mph as they thunder across the Golden Gate Bridge, with drivers firmly secured in the machines by their five-point seat belts. The thought behind the event is that seat belt safety is not just limited to those who travel at speeds over 100 mph. Seat belts are necessary at any speed.

"For me it is essential to put a seat belt on. In fact, in my road X5 I wear a harness. I donít mind the extra time it takes to put it on. I am happy to show the public how important it is to wear a seat belt," Stuck said.

Fans are encouraged to meet the drivers and view their exotic sports cars at Vista Point at the North Tower on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18. The CHP will also be on hand to administer complimentary seat belt safety checks. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. from Vista Point, travel across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the streets of San Francisco before winding up at Ghirardelli Square.

After a brief press conference, drivers will head to the courtyard in Ghirardelli Square for another meet-and-greet and autograph session with the fans beginning at approximately 1 p.m. A Prototype Panoz sports car will be on display in the courtyard.

For those fans interested in watching these high-powered sports cars rumble through the streets of San Francisco, the caravan route is listed here:

1. The caravan begins with a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Use the Marina Boulevard exit and travel on Marina Boulevard.

2. Right turn on Fillmore Street.

3. Left turn on Lombard Street.

4. Left turn on Van Ness Avenue.

5. Right turn on North Point Street.

6. Left turn on Polk Street.

7. Right turn on Beach Street.

8. Drive to the end of the block and pull the cars right into the parking spots on Beach Street at the corner of Beach and Larkin streets.
For more information on The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma, presented by ACDelco and Fosterís Lager, please visit www.searspoint.com or right here at www.americanlemans.com.

Andy Hall
Director of Media & Communications
American Le Mans Series
(317) 295-3500, ext. 31
(317) 298-8924 (fax)
[email protected]

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