Pete Halsmer and Cameron Lawrence to Team Up at Watkins Glen
July 3, 2012
Pete Halsmer is one of the major presences in the Trans Am paddock a threat to win any race he enters and one of the most respected names in the series. The veteran notched his first Trans Am series victory in 1986, and has won 25% of the Trans Am races he’s entered. Out of his 28 career starts he’s finished in the top three 13 times. Since rejoining the series this year Halsmer has been the main challenger to defending TA2 division champion Bob Stretch; they spilt the first two races of the year until Halsmer was forced to sit out Mid-Ohio with back pain, a race which Stretch won by a wide margin. Halsmer then returned to claim victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the fourth Trans Am race of the series.
Halsmer races under Miller Racing along with teammate, and team owner, Mike Miller. The pair drive nearly identical LS3 powered Chevy Camaros, numbers #12 and #11 respectively, sponsored by Ctek Battery Chargers, Motorstate and Allstar. The duo has been on the podium a combined five times this year and are yet to show any indication of slowing down. However, Mike Miller will be unable to attend the Watkins Glen race. Enter Cameron Lawrence.
Lawrence, the 19 year old driver, joined Trans Am at Road Atlanta for the last race of the 2011 season. Despite his age, Lawrence is well versed in racing. He grew up racing circle tracks and quarter midgets and eventually made his way into road racing.
While Road Atlanta was Cameron’s first Trans Am race he was able to come in an astonishing third place. Unfortunately, this year has been a different story. Lawrence has been plagued by engine trouble and has had to sit out the past two races at Lime Rock Park and Mid Ohio. That hasn’t stopped him from coming out though; he’s made an appearance at both events.
“We’d already bought the air tickets and made our plans, so we thought ‘why not,’ it’s a great experience.”
One of the places he frequents is the Miller Racing paddock. Mike Miller was quick to take note of not only Cameron’s talent behind the wheel, but his enthusiasm for the series and racing:
“Cameron is a great young driver, he’s one of those guys who came to our series and brought a car that’s marginally competitive because of its age, but he’s able to drive it beyond where the average driver would be able to take it. We were impressed with Cameron in his first two outings, I think he’s got a great future in racing. He realizes that Trans Am would be a great step for his career and I think we’re interested in him developing his career and becoming a top-notch motorsports figure, and while I think he may not end up in a cup series, in my view he’d more likely end up in an Indy Car. He’s got the right kind of mentally, he’s a great kid, I call him a kid because he’s young, but everyone’s a kid to me that’s that young. He’s going to be a sophisticated, smart young man, who’s got great presence. He’s going to do very well.”
So while Miller is away, he’s entrusting Lawrence with the #11 Ctek Battery Chargers/Motorstate Chevrolet Camaro. The car is far more than “marginally competitive,” but Miller sees Lawrence’s opportunity to work with Pete Halsmer as the real opportunity.
“We’re going to put him in one of our cars at Watkins Glen and give him a chance to have a little better equipment than he has today and see how he preforms. He’ll have a great mentor in Pete Halsmer working with him at Watkins Glen. To have Pete there and guide him, giving advice and answering his questions about the car, setup and that kind of thing, you can’t get a better sedan racer in the world than Pete Halsmer to help you. You cannot buy experience, you cannot buy a million laps, you cannot buy 45 years of seat time, those are things you cannot get without the help of people like Pete.”
The news came as a bit of a surprise to Lawrence, who was prepared to sit out yet another race:
“It’s almost a shock at first, it almost feels like it’s not real life. I’ve known them for such a short period of time and for them to be trusting me with the car… its amazing. I’m confident and in my ability to drive the car the way it should be driven. Just having Mike Miller recognize who I am is enough to get me even more excited about racing, and for him to let me drive one of his cars is beyond anything I would have imagined this first season, its just come as a shock.”
Thus Halsmer and Lawrence will form a talented team, one that’s separated by a 49 year age difference. It’s the proverbial passing of the torch within the Trans Am series, Halsmer, one of the great sedan racers of all time, representing the past and present and Cameron Lawrence as the future, not only of the series but of motorsports.