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“All Hands On Deck” for WEC’s Return to COTA This Summer

COTA’s VP of Motorsports on build-up to Lone Star Le Mans return, set for Aug. 30-Sept. 1…

Photo: Toyota

Preparations for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s highly-anticipated return to Circuit of The Americas are in full swing according to COTA VP of Motorsports Andy Soucek and Reid Atherton, who are hoping this year’s Lone Star Le Mans will lay a long-term future for the world championship at the Austin venue.

Set for Aug. 30-Sept. 1, the Labor Day weekend event will mark the revival of the Lone Star Le Mans that was last held in February 2020.

For Soucek, a former Bentley factory driver turned COTA businessman, the opportunity to welcome back the WEC comes at the ideal time, amid a surge of interest in motorsports within North America and around the world.

“It’s something that we’ve been looking forward to since we took our positions a couple of years ago,” Soucek told Sportscar365. “We’re big passionate [supporters] of sports car racing.

“Me, as a racing driver, you can imagine, and Reid with his background in IMSA, we both were looking at this championship and hoping to get it back to Austin and COTA.

“Now it’s a reality. It’s exciting. Preparations are going well. The team is all-hands on deck. The event is our next big event after the summer break, so we’re very excited about it.”

The WEC will be the first major series to race on the 3.426-mile circuit following the completion of scheduled resurfacing later this month, which is aimed to provide improved conditions for competitors, and in turn, spectators.

“That’s the intent for the resurface,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “We did portions of the track earlier this year between January and February.

“A fair portion of the track [has been resurfaced] already. We’ll then go even further at the end of [this month] just before WEC.

“We anticipate the resurfacing will improve various parts of the bumps. Obviously it’s natural Texas terrain, so we have to deal with what we’re given.

“We’ll also be redoing some of the curbing as well to take advantage of the time off on track to ready the circuit for WEC.”

Atherton, the son of former IMSA President Scott Atherton, joined the COTA staff early last year, and with his previous role in partnership marketing at IMSA, has helped bring the sanctioning body back to the track as part of the WEC support bill.

The IMSA-sanctioned Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and new-for-2024 Mustang Challenge will both stage races during the Lone Star Le Mans weekend, creating an action-packed weekend of sports car racing alongside the six-hour headline WEC round.

“It’s hugely important, not only for us as a company but for the fans and their return on investment in supporting the event,” said Atherton.

“It’s an all-day event. We don’t have the luxury of having the mainstream concerts that we have for Formula 1, so ultimately having the support races just helps boost and amplify the event.

“To have an IMSA property back at COTA is hugely important for us to maintain that relationship and hope for one day to get [the WeatherTech Championship] back.”

Soucek, meanwhile, is confident the Lone Star Le Mans event will only grow in the years to come, having already been confirmed on the 2025 WEC calendar, and with the hope of an even longer-term relationship.

“I think we’re hearing more and more hype around WEC coming to COTA and Lone Star Le Mans is definitely going to be an important date in our calendar,” he said.

“It will only grow, in my opinion, once we do this 2024 edition and people get to see the show that it really is and the amazing cars of the championship and all of the manufacturer involvement.

“I think after that, it’s going to be a matter of people talking to each other and people looking at the event as a success, which I think it will be.

“From there, it’s just going to get better and better.

“It was important for us to get through this year, be able to announce a return in 2025, to solidify the date and make sure that people know that the early September date is a must-see at the track to witness this amazing championship.

“For us, in terms of date equity, it’s perfect, because we have a major event every quarter of the year. It’s brilliant to have NASCAR, MotoGP, WEC and F1 [all] relatively spread out.

“I think we’re riding the wave right now. We’re in a sweet spot and we’re confident we can keep up with the market and make sure our standards get better year after year.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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