Le Mans Endurance Series
The Le Mans Series (LMS) is a European sports car racing endurance series based around the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and run by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO). The series was originally named the Le Mans Endurance Series, but changed its name prior to the 2006 season.
It is similar to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) based in the United States and Canada that has been running with ACO backing since 1999, but is run by IMSA. It is also seen as a rebirth of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) which was created by IMSA and the ACO, but only ran in 2001. LMS champions and runners up in all four categories receive an automatic entry to the following year's Le Mans 24 Hour Race.
The ACO, seeing the success of the American Le Mans Series but not completely satisfied with the fact that IMSA did not fully comply with the ACO's regulations in order to help attract privateer teams, as well as the failure of the FIA Sportscar Championship to succeed in Europe, decided that a series run by themselves would be a better alternative for Europe. The ACO would instead attempt to attract factory backed teams with longer endurance races then ALMS and FIA SCC ran, but less races in a season to help keep costs down. The series would also be European based instead of international, thus it could be closer to the factories of a large number of sportscar teams to help attract them to the series. Winners of the LMES championship would go on to earn automatic entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, similar to the American Le Mans Series.
For the 2004 Le Mans Series season the series participated in four events, including resurrecting classic races like the 1000km Monza, 1000km Nürburgring, and 1000km Spa. A large number of competitors turned out, making the racing very exciting.