Trans Am Series Descends On Lime Rock Park For Round 2 Of The 2012 Championship
May 23, 2012
MIAMI - May 23, 2012 This week the Trans Am Series heads to Lakeville, Connecticut to participate in historic Lime Rock Park’s traditional season opener, the Memorial Day Race Weekend. Expect things to get pretty rough and tumble given five of the drivers entered for the 2012 Lime Rock Trans Am have previous Lime Rock Trans Am starts, and two have been victorious: 2010 winner Tony Ave and 1987 victor Pete Halsmer.
It would be nearly impossible to talk about American Road Racing without using Trans Am and Lime Rock Park in the same sentence. The idyllic setting has been the scene of some of the greatest racing and host to many of the legendary names in Trans Am history. Names like Peter Revson, Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones, Ron Fellows, Tommy Kendall, Peter Gregg, Al Holbert, Sam Posey… the list goes on.
The most recent Lime Rock Park Trans Am winner is defending Trans Am champion, Tony Ave.
"Lime Rock is another high speed circuit that I count as one of my favorites," said two-time Trans Am champion, Ave. "I clinched my first professional championship by winning the Oldsmobile Pro Series event there in 1992. We won here last time out in 2010. We need to get back in the points race so I can't think of a better place to be racing this weekend."
Ave won in 2010 from the pole, leading flag-to-flag and setting Fast Lap en route to a 21 second victory margin over Tomy Drissi. Add to that a second place finish in 2002 and a ninth place in the 1995 Lime Rock Trans Am. After last week's tough luck at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Trans Am season opener, Ave will definitely be looking for the top step of Lime Rock Park's podium.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner Doug Peterson will also be looking for a repeat. While his win may have come to him by way of Ave's cut down tire, make no mistake Peterson's Corvette was dialed in. A staunch competitor, Peterson will come into the weekend with a winning state-of-mind.
Simon Gregg, who finished third at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Trans Am, has contested five Lime Rock Trans Am races. He scored his best finish, a third in 2010.
Amy Ruman might be going through some teething problems with her new No. 23 Corvette, but the feisty Ruman is quickly getting things sorted out. Don't let her sixth place finish in round one mislead you. Expect Amy to be very quick and definitely in the hunt.
In Trans Am 2, the edge has to go to last week's Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Trans Am 2 winner, Pete Halsmer. Halsmer drove for the Roush Racing Mercury Merkur team in the 1986 and 1987 Lime Rock Trans Am events. He was Fast Qualifier for the 1986 race and led the first 17 laps from the pole. Halsmer later led laps 22-27 before an accident retired his car after 45 laps of the 66-lap race, placing him 23rd.
In 1987 Pete qualified third but took the lead on the second lap and led the remainder of the race to take victory by 4.370 seconds.
"This week is a bit of a tight schedule," said Halsmer. "Especially with the car repairs needing to go on for Mike's [teammate, Miller] car after Mosport. It is really unfortunate he got taken out - he was very quick in warm-up with full tanks, and looking forward to the race. He's not making Lime Rock because of it, and we passed on the test day as well due to the logistics."
Halsmer's extensive record at Lime Rock includes 10 starts in IMSA GT competition from 1985 through 1997. Pete finished second four times, third twice, and won two poles in his 10 IMSA GT starts!
"I have run Lime Rock a lot over the years," Pete noted. "I feel pretty good; but know it's a quick day with two practices and then qualifying on Friday. There's not a lot of time to adjust the car or driver. Lime Rock is pretty unique being virtually a right handed oval. We'll just have to take a guess at the set-up, and hope we're close; with so little time to change things."
"Lime Rock is a beautiful place," added Pete. "I have memories of fishing in the creek during test days in the past - guess none of that this year. I'm looking forward to the young guys taking it easy on me again. (I'm sure that'll happen)!"
Halsmer and teammate Mike Miller are very optimistic regarding the TA2 class and the Series' promotional direction.
"Someone said there'll be more TA2 cars at Lime Rock," Halmser commented. "That sounds good for the class but tougher for us, eh? I've had a few people call and say they are looking at TA2 - which sounds promising for the class growing. I think it makes a lot of sense."
Trans Am will take the track for the first round of practice, Friday at 11:50AM (EST). A second round will run from 3:10PM to 3:40PM with qualifying underway between 5:30PM and 6PM. Trans Am cars will qualifying in a split session from TA2 cars. The 59 lap feature will take the green flag at 1:15PM