FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu has paid tribute to outgoing IMSA President Scott Atherton, who will retire at the end of the year following a 34-year career in North American motorsports.
Atherton’s tenure included 20 years at the helm of ALMS/IMSA, which Neveu began working directly with in 2011 during the WEC’s precursor, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
The Frenchman made a trip to last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans to pay respect to Atherton, who served as grand marshal for the ten-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.
“All the things I’ve made in America, since ten years more-or-less, it was always in link with Scott,” Neveu told Sportscar365.
“I have a big level of respect and consideration for him because we work very closely together. But also for all the career he’s achieved in America.
“With his story with Laguna [Seca], Don Panoz, IMSA… How he built the WeatherTech Championship after Don Panoz’s sale to NASCAR. I have huge respect.
“I think he was absolutely correct to attend his last race. It’s a clear sign from my side to show my respect.”
While stepping down as president, Atherton will remain a consultant to IMSA as the sanctioning body’s link to the ACO.
The two organizations have continued to hold close links, most particularly with formation the ‘Super Sebring’ event, which will return next March.
“He’s clearly been the pillar between the bridge when we are between the ocean,” Neveu said. “We spend so much time together and have had so many meetings.
“He’s one of the people that I consider with a very high level of respect, clearly.”