Max Angelelli predicts there could be as many as 20-25 LMDh cars representing up to eight manufacturers on the grid for the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in what is poised to mark a “new era” in sports car racing globally.
The two-time Grand-Am champion, who has retired from driving and team ownership to serve as a senior figure at LMDh chassis constructor Dallara, is bullish on the future of IMSA and the ACO’s new joint platform that will debut in 2023.
So far, four manufacturers — Acura, Audi, BMW and Porsche — have officially committed for the launch year, with Cadillac understood to be on the verge of announcing its program and increasing interest from Lamborghini and Bentley, among others that are reportedly in the pipeline.
Angelelli, who is responsible for Dallara’s OEM partnerships, told Sportscar365 that he’s “100 percent convinced” that more manufacturers are on the way.
“More and more manufacturers will be coming for sure,” he said. “I believe there’s going to be at least three more coming.
“Potentially in 2024 we could see a grid in Daytona of 20-25 cars with seven or eight manufacturers. This is my feeling.
“I like to be a dreamer and I believe this dream will come true. You only have to push to make it happen.”
While Angelelli declined to name specific manufacturers, Sportscar365 understands that Dallara will be working with at least two OEMs in time for the launch season.
He said the Italian constructor has “no specific” limit of manufacturers it can partner with.
“It’s great because you can build a car together and you can do it with multiple manufacturers without overstepping each other,” Angelelli said.
“Dallara is a big company and we have a lot of resources. The beauty of this formula is that it’s flexible. You can do everything or you can do part of it.
“It depends on the manufacturer. There are manufacturers that would like to do a lot of stuff themselves. So the actual workload on the constructor is less.
“Everyone has different needs. The formula allows you to be flexible, so it’s great.
“IMSA understands the needs of the manufacturers and that’s key. They’re allowing the manufacturer to do what they need. That is the Ace that drops on the table.
“The financial formula is affordable. I’ve been contacted by gentlemen drivers wanting to run a LMDh because it’s affordable.
“If you had a LMP1 back then available to customers it was way too much, even for the wealthiest guy in the world.
“LMDh seen as a customer racing program, it will be affordable.”
Angelelli added: “In my opinion we are at the beginning of a new era in sports car racing. I’ve never seen such interest, desire and push from everywhere… from big car manufacturers but also from [privateers].
“Thank you to [IMSA] for the idea and platform and for allowing the manufacturers to style their cars, to apply their styling cues to have enough room that the car can be recognized to the public.
“Thank you to IMSA and ACO for this idea because they found the convergence. That opened the door for [LMDh in] Le Mans and hopefully opens the door to Daytona for [LMH].
“I think this couldn’t be better. I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone. For the constructors, for the manufacturers, for the drivers and sponsors.”
Angelelli Credits Jim France for LMDh Vision
The Italian, who won the 2005 and 2013 DP titles with Wayne Taylor Racing, has credited Grand-Am founder and IMSA chairman Jim France for his initial vision of production car styling cues on a prototype.
Under France’s leadership, Chevrolet was the first to pick up on the concept in 2012 with what was known as the Corvette DP.
“The application of styling cues was something foreshadowed a little bit in the DP days,” Angelelli said.
“The DP was over an existing platform, so applying the styling cues was really difficult. Corvette did a good job because it [looked] like a real Corvette.
“But it was too early. DPi was a good first step and now the investment in DPi is the payback with LMDh, in my opinion.
“I think Jim France saw this a lot earlier than me for sure. I think it was in Jim’s head much earlier and I’m happy that he can see this [come to fruition] years on.”