Illustration for article titled Saleens Race Car Series Cancelled A Week Before It Was Supposed To Begin
Photo: Saleen

The Saleen Cup series was founded back in 2019 with a good idea—anyone who wanted to compete could show up and race in a car identical to all the others on the grid—but, apparently, not on a strong enough basis. Just a week before its proposed season opener at Circuit of the Americas and weeks after journalists were invited to take the cars out for a spin, the Saleen Cup has folded.

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According to Saleen, resources are being allocated instead to the development of the Saleen 1 GT4 car.

Saleen Automotive, manufacturer of high-performance sports cars and auto parts, hasn’t exactly had a particularly good go of it lately. Saleen was sued by a Ford dealership in Texas back in 2016, where the dealership alleged that Saleen had committed fraud and a breach of contract regarding the delivery of a supercharged Mustang, Automotive News reported. At the time, the company was neck-deep in debt with pretty much no available cash. Since then, the company has become Chinese, launching the car you see at the top of this article over there in 2017, as CarNewsChina reported at the time. Saleen has been pretty mysterious about its goings-on since then. Jason Statham showed up at one point—but it’s been especially strange in the realm of motorsport.

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The Saleen Cup was launched in 2019 as a support series for SRO Americas. At that point, a delayed start caused only four events to take place. It marketed itself as the first “arrive and drive” racing series, where drivers of all skill sets could show up and compete in one the twenty identically-prepared cars. Honestly, the website makes it sound pretty appealing:

The Saleen Cup Series includes two 50-minute races at each of the four weekend events, with two drivers permitted behind the wheel of each of the 12 allocated cars. The Series will include two separate categories: Young Drivers (up to 28 years old), and Pro-Am Drivers (29 and older).The cost for the Saleen Cup Series is $45,000 per weekend ($300,000 for entire season if paid by 3/15/20).

Since the Saleen 1 Cup Series features two-racer teams, the cost to participate can be split between two drivers – making it a per driver cost of only $22,500 for a two man team. This is a far more accessible driving experience than other Cup racing events!

The first race of the 2020 was supposed to take place at COTA next weekend on March 6-8, with six more events occurring throughout the year at some of America’s most iconic road courses. But just before its big debut, the series folded, Sportscar365 reports:

Sportscar365 understands plans had been already in place for the Saleen Cup to continue in 2020 on SRO America weekends and is still currently listed on the schedule for next weekend’s season-opener at Circuit of The Americas.

However, a Saleen spokesperson has confirmed that the Cup has been cancelled.

In a statement provided to Sportscar365, the manufacturer said it succeed in the “ambitious undertaking” of launching a single-make series and will now instead shift focus to the final stages of development and deployment of the Saleen 1 GT4 car, which is currently undergoing homologation by SRO.

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As of writing, Saleen Cup is still present on COTA’s weekend schedule for the GT World Challenge America weekend. There is no information on Saleen’s website confirming that the series has folded. Sportscar365, however, confirmed via their spokesperson that the series will not be attending the race at COTA.

Here’s more from the article:

“Our goal was always to get Saleen racing in the GT4 series, and ultimately that was the goal for most of the drivers competing in the Saleen Cup last year as well,” the statement read.

“We incorporated our goal of racing GT4 into our announcement of the Saleen Cup by offering a factory entry in GT4 to the category winners of the 2019 Saleen Cup.

“We concluded the season introducing our new Saleen 1 GT4 Concept vehicle – and have been quickly moving through the homologation process with SRO ever since.

“At this time, we have decided to allocate our resources to racing in the GT4 series, in lieu of a second Saleen Cup season this year.

“Our results in testing the Saleen 1 GT4 Concept for homologation have exceeded our high expectations.

“Forgoing a Saleen Cup this year will allow us to expand our GT4 racing program with additional entries and team support.”

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Possibly the weirdest part of this whole saga, though, is the fact that press were still invited out to drive the series’ cars just a few weeks before this collapse. Motortrend posted its review a mere half hour before Sportscargo365 announced that Saleen Cup was folding.

There is currently no word on what Saleen’s GT4 series effort would look like, nor is there a timeline available. But it looks like prospective racers won’t just be able to arrive and drive in a ready-made car this year.

Staff writer. Motorsport fanatic. Proud owner of a 2013 Mazda 2.

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