opening rounds were the twodrivers who would take thepoints battle to the finale: JoshHurley, who’s had an enduringcareer in a wide variety ofmachinery, from karts toFormula Atlantic as well assports and GT cars; and TylerKicera, who rose up throughthe Spec Miata ranks. In thevirtual series, Hurley ultimatelygot the better of Kicera to takethe Trans Am Eports title bythe narrowest of margins – andcling to the hope the real worldwould notice and put him intoa real-world TA machine.
Through the spring, though,others impressed, includingrace winners Dylan Archer, EdSevadjian, and former “realworld” Trans Am championsCameron Lawrence and ErnieFrancis Jr., while Thomas Merrill,J.P. Southern, Hunter Pickett(grandson of series great Greg)also earned podium spots.
And the West Coast Trans Amseries was well representedin the points courtesy NickRosseno, Cameron Parsons,and Carl Rydquist.
Sim racing filled the springgap, but there was no hidingthe fact the Trans Am worldwas anxious to get back ontrack. In late May, Trans Amreleased its extensively revised
10-race schedule, the actionresuming during the June 26-28weekend at Mid-Ohio, whichit shared with the SCCA ProRacing F4 U.S. Championshipand FR Americas series.
The 1970 season of Trans Am was a knockout. (Clockwise from TOP LEFT)
That year, Parnelli Jones was no stranger to victory circle; the infamousJim Hall continued to push aero limits; Jerry Titus was formidable bothon and off the track; Sam Posey muscled his Dodge Challenger intocontention; and Mark Donohue continued to solidify his racing legacy.
all sides. Fresh enthusiasmfrom new owners The TransAm Race Company (assumingmanagement of the series fromSCCA) and its principals TonyParella and series veteran JohnClagett turned the tide. Withsupport plus sponsorship fromtire maker Pirelli, which debutedin 2017, and several seasonsof steady growth behind it, theTrans Am renaissance – alongwith the exciting and affordablemuscle car laden TA2 class – wasin full swing rolling into 2020.
Another spectacular 12-raceschedule on most of NorthAmerica’s premier circuits hadbeen announced, the combinationof rules stability and newly addedXGT class backstopping a recordnumber of entries at the start of anew decade – and then COVID-19.
The first few weeks of Marchwere fraught, indeed, with allthe major sanctioning bodiesforced to cancel spring racesand Trans Am was no exception.
To the rescue? A virtualTrans Am series. After apreliminary event at Lime Rockset up in record time (readmore about that in the Juneissue of SportsCar), a largerplatform was found which haddigital machinery most closelyapproaching Trans Am spec cars.
A seven-weekend, 14-race Aprilto June Esports series on theAssetto Corsa Ultimate Editiongaming platform was the result,launched to much acclaim at avirtual Laguna Seca on April 18.
Class of the field in the
and while the 3.3-mile virtual
version was different from the
2.54-mile layout used in the
1960s and ’70s, his appearancewas heartwarming – andsomewhat successful.
Handicapped by a cast on onewrist and despite no previousexperience at the track or in theseries, he finished just outsidethe top 10 in the Trans AmEsports Race 1 at the circuit.
Back to 1970, though, faced
with a down economy and
a looming energy crisis, the
factories, one by one, withdrew
from Trans Am. In response,
SCCA rules makers changed
the look of the series through
the decade with Porsche 934
turbos battling for top honors
in the premier class and Group
44 Jaguars and Triumphs plus
several independent Porsches
and Corvettes starring in
the supporting Category I.
On into the 1980s and ’90sas tubeframe racecars overtookthe production-based machinery,the “pony cars” (Camaros andMustangs) returned. Intensityremained, a hallmark as a hostof new names emerged, youngdrivers with bright futures seizingthe Trans Am limelight: WallyDallenbach Jr., Scott Pruett,Tommy Kendall, Willy T. Ribbs,Scott Sharp, Paul Gentilozzi,Boris Said, and many others.
21ST CENTURY RENAISSANCEThe early years of the 21stcentury were rebuilding years,as Trans Am faced formidableGT-racing competition from
“[With] several seasonsof steady growthbehind it, the Trans Amrenaissance…was in fullswing rolling into 2020”