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Washington DC to Host Grand Prix Auto Racing - 2002-07-14

For the first time in 80 years, professional auto racing is coming to Washington. Next weekend (July 19-21, 2002), the U.S. capital city plays host to the Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C.

The Grand Prix headline event features the sports cars of the American Le Mans Series - sleek, sophisticated prototypes hurtling around a tight, 2.3 kilometer-long, seven-turn temporary course created on two large, adjoining parking lots next to RFK Stadium in Washington.

Race organizers and city officials have been working for the past several months, putting down fresh asphalt on the course, lining it with concrete barriers, erecting safety fencing and grandstand seating for the expected thousands of spectators.

The Sunday afternoon Grand Prix itself will showcase four different classes of cars, including the fast and expensive prototypes headed by the German Audi team, winners of the last three Le Mans endurance races in France. They will be challenged by the American Cadillac and Panoz teams.

Smaller prototypes run in their own class, as do the GT production sports cars featuring such famous nameplates as Corvette and Porsche.

Racing fans will also be treated to supporting events - a Trans-Am race on Saturday, a Mazda Star race, Speed World Challenge, and a celebrity pro-am race. In addition, daredevil Robbie Knievel will undertake one of his famed motorcycle jumps.

The weekend will mark the first of what city officials expect to be an annual event over the next decade. Race organizers and the city have signed a 10-year contract to that effect. The city government hopes the events will lure visitors to Washington during the traditionally slow summer season.

Practice and qualifying begin Friday, more qualifying and the Trans-Am race Saturday, and the big event, the Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C., Sunday afternoon. The Voice of America will have reports from trackside at RFK Stadium.