Jacksonville, FL - May 12, 2020 - Everyone in the Trans Am community was understandably disappointed by the announcement on May 9 that the 2020 Trans Am presented by Pirelli Championship season would not be restarting June 21 at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway as scheduled. However, the keyword is postponed. SVRA and Trans Am officials are working with IMS management to reschedule the event for later in the year and while we don't want to speculate, there is optimism that we will be racing on the track again before the end of June. Mid Ohio Sports Car Course June 26-28 is the rescheduled return date so fingers crossed all is well by then. In the meantime it's great to hear about how some of the athletes in our sport are faring during this enforced period of inactivity on the track.
Wins at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana and at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca contributed to Simon Gregg being crowned 2019 Trans Am West Coast Champion, so it's not surprising he was disappointed to see the 2020 visit to the California venue also seemingly cancelled. Simon nevertheless remained extremely positive about the year ahead when he spoke this week about the Trans Am tracks, his personal heroes, his plans for this season and how he's been spending his time during the current break in the action.
Now the subject of an outstanding documentary feature film we recommend readers watch, Simon's original motorsports hero was the legendary Brazilian known simply as Senna, "I used to watch a lot of Formula One when I was younger. Senna was very inspiring.” Simon went on, "He was fast. Tragically, he died in 1994, which is when I first started racing full time.”
“Brian Redman does cool events and is a friend in the vintage car scene. I really like his Targa Sixty Six car club which takes place at Palm Beach International Raceway.” Highlighting his association with the classic motor racing club he added, "I was able to drive some very cool cars there in the past – Prototypes, high downforce cars, and a Ferrari F40 - definitely the coolest Ferrari I have ever had the pleasure to drive. Along with Porsche, Viper and other fun sports cars."
A veteran of numerous seasons on the Trans Am circuit, racing is in Simon's blood, so it's not surprising he pinpointed Daytona in particular as a special place to race, "Like everyone else, I'm disappointed that we not going to the Brickyard in June but with any luck we'll be there before the end of the year. Of the rest, Daytona is a good track for horsepower! I live in Florida and so Daytona is nearby. I really enjoy racing Trans Am there. Everyone likes this track, probably the most liked venue by all drivers in the Series."
Of the venues upcoming in this year's schedule he added, "For handling and scenery, I like Road America and Watkins Glen."
Simon's father Peter was of course Hurley Haywood's long time co-pilot and together the two won the 1973 24 Hours of Daytona in a Porsche Carrera. Haywood went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1977 (Porsche 936), 1983 (Porsche 956) and 1994 (Dauer 962 Le Mans) and is tied as the most successful driver at the 24 Hours of Daytona with no few than 5 separate wins (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, and 1991).
Like his forebears, the sheer aesthetics of the imposing and powerful TA race cars appeals to Simon, "I like the speed and beauty of TA cars. The car is big and exciting because the body is lightweight designed and when I hit the gas and go through the gears it’s really good.”
Talking about this season with perennial partners Derhaag Motorsports, Simon added, "Switching from the Corvette to the Camaro in TA is on the horizon for my team. I’ve driven this current Corvette C7.R body since 2014 and I have drove and raced Corvettes for a long time. It was my first sports car at age 21. I started racing Trans Am in 2000 with the C5 body and going back to the C4 in IMSA, track days and car clubs."
At around 850 BHP, the modern TA track car is a fearsome beast, and not something to be trifling with, as Simon explained, "I like I enjoy being able to have a fast and reliable car, the pleasure of speeding around the best tracks in the country - it’s fun to get to drive a TA car with the people and places we go." The TA circuit is indeed a very friendly as well as competitive environment as Simon commented, "I do not take it for granted and enjoy every minute. We have a fun end of season banquet and I enjoy being a part of it, we have great officials and a great paddock. They do a good job running it and making it a good experience for teams and drivers. I even have my cat Maddie and girlfriend who goes with me to most of the races!"
Being based in the Sunshine State as Simon is has its consolations, especially during the lockdown and it seems Simon is to be found on the water as much as on dry land, "Right now I like to drive speed boats. I enjoy going off shore and on the intercoastal. I really enjoy boating because that is motorsports too."
Trans Am Series and team news about Simon Gregg can be found at gotransam.com. Keep up with Simon personally on the Simon Gregg Facebook page.