- Trans-Am Series
Infobox motorsport championship
Sports car racing
country/region = USA
inaugural = 1966
folded = 2006
website = The Trans-Am Series was created in
1966by the SCCAas the "Trans-American Sedan Championship". Originally derived from the SCCA's A Sedan (A/S) class, it later featured purpose-built tube-frame race cars competing on road courses. The series was known for competition of muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, AMC Javelinand Dodge Challengerin the late 1960s and early 1970s, though marques from many different countries have competed in the series.
Another muscle car, the
Pontiac Trans Am, was named for the series.
The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is the sanctioning body for the series and holds the rights to the "Trans-Am" name. The series was most recently operated by the Champ Car World Series and ran the majority of its races in support of the parent open-wheel championship.
Due to a lack of participants and interest, the series ceased operations after the 2005 season. However the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) continued to own the name and permitted
Heartland Park Topekato run two races in September and October 2006 using Trans Am rules and the Trans Am name.
The Beginnings (1966 - 1967)
At first, the Trans-Am vehicles were primarily modified versions of the road-going car. The competition was divided into two classes- an "Under 2 Liter" class (predominantly small European sedans) and the "Over 2 Liter" class (displacement limited to 5.0 liters, or 305 cu. in. ).
The first race was in
1966at Sebring International Raceway. The overall win went to Jochen Rindtdriving an Alfa Romeo GTA(an Under 2 Liter entry), with Bob Tullius(driving a Dodge Dart) taking second overall, but first in the Over 2 Liter class. A separate race on the same weekend was marred by tragedy: driver Bob McLean is killed in one accident and an incident between Mario Andrettiand Don Westerresulted in the death of four spectators.
The Golden Era (1968-1972)
The early years were largely dominated by
Mark Donohue, driving for Roger Penske. Penske campaigned Chevy Camaros through 1969, when he signed with American Motors to race the Javelin in 1970 and 1971. Donohue would chalk up 20 race victories between 1967and 1970and three unofficial drivers's championships, the third achieved in 1971.The 1970Trans Am series is regarded by most racing historians as the high water mark of American road racing. Every "pony car" manufacturer was represented with a factory team and top driving talent: Chevrolet had the Chaparral Chevy Camaro Z28 team with Jim Hall, Ed Leslie, and Vic Elford. Ford's Bud Moore Boss 302 Mustangs were driven by Parnelli Jonesand George Follmer. For Plymouth, the All American Racing Cudas were handled by Dan Gurneyand Swede Savage. Sam Poseydrove Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics Challenger TA, Jerry Titus had the Pontiac TransAm, and Roger Penske's Sunoco AMC Javelin team starred Mark Donohueand Peter Revson.
Most of these cars have been preserved or restored and are still racing in vintage events today.
The Two-Five Challenge
In 1969 the "U2" class was renamed when the engine displacement limit was increased to 2.5 litres.
Porsche 911s and Alfa Romeo GTVs were dominant, later joined by the Datsun 510. Successful drivers included Peter H. Gregg, Horst Kweck, Bob Sharp, and John Morton.
Rules evolved over the years, incorporating
FIAtouring and grand-touring classes as well as SCCA Club Racing classes. The different classes had restrictions placed on the allowed modifications in an effort to equalize competition between the different cars. In 1976, Trans-Am returned to the two category format, classifying FIA Group 4 and 5 cars as "Category II".
The Modern Era (1980 - 2006)
1980, the SCCA developed a weight-to-displacement ratio for handicapping cars. Five-liter, 2600 pound vehicles dominated the field. Soon, tube-frame cars would begin to appear on the grid, eventually becoming the standard for Trans-Am competitors. Roush Racingentered into Trans-Am competition in 1984. For the next six years Roush entries would dominate the series, winning 46 of the 83 races. This first decade also saw notable champions such as Wally Dallenbach, Jr.(1985 and 1986), Scott Pruett(1987), Hurley Haywood(1988), and Dorsey Schroeder(1989).
In 1988, after years of rallying,
Audiwould enter the series with the 200 turbo quattro via the services of Bob Tullius's Group 44 Racing. As usual the car ran their trademark Quattrosystem. However this did not run without controversy as the car, piloted by Haywood and with both Walter Röhrland Hans Joachim Stucksharing duties, steamrollered the opposition taking eight out of thirteen wins. As Audi would defect to IMSA by the end of the season, the SCCA would change the regulation to a two wheel drive only and banning cars with non American engines from taking part.
In the nineties
Tommy Kendallwas the driver to beat- he would take four driver's championships in this decade. Chevrolet was also prominent in this time period, with 6 drivers' champions in their cars. Paul Gentilozzirose to the fore beginning in 1998with his first championship in Trans-Am. He would win four more championships, his latest in 2006, driving a Chevrolet, Ford, and Jaguar. These latter years also saw more marques enter the field, with exotics such as the Panoz Esperante, Qvale Mangusta and Jaguar XKR. Later in the 2004 season, a Rocketsports RacingJaguar XKR raced with a production-based 4.5 liter 650 hp DOHC AJ-V8. A 2006 season seemed unlikely until late in the year when a short two race season was run with both races taking place at Heartland Park Topeka. Fields were shored up by a makeshift assortment of SCCA GT-1 class amateur racers in town for the National Championship Runoffs later that week.
note: 1966 through 1970 and 2006 championships were not official SCCA driver champions
Five Liter Class
*Chevrolet Camaro 1967-72
*Pontiac Firebird 1968-72
*Chevrolet Nova 1970
Ford Motor Company
*Ford Mustang 1966-72
*Mercury Cougar 1967-70
*Ford Falcon 1966
*Dodge Challenger 1970
*Plymouth Barracuda 1966-70
*Dodge Dart 1966-70
*AMC Javelin 1968-72
Two Liter Class
*Lotus Cortina 1966-72
*Ford Escort 1970-72
*Porsche 911 1967-69
BMW New Class1966-72
* Opel Kadett 1966 & 1972
Volkswagen Beetle1966-67 & 1972
Alfa Romeo GTA1966-72
Fiat Abarth 10001966-72
*Alfa Romeo GTV 1970
*Volvo 544 1970
*Hino Contessa 1966
*Rambler American 1967
*Ford Capri 1972
Renault Dauphine1966 & 1970
*Historic Trans Am: http://www.trans-amseries.com/
*Trans Am Racing History DVD: http://www.transamdvd.com
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