Ernie Francis, Jr., to Make TA2 Class Debut in Detroit
May 11, 2018
2017 TA Champ to Drive No. 44 Engineered Components Company Chevrolet Camaro
MIAMI, Fla. [May 11, 2018] – Ernie Francis, Jr., the 2017 Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA class champion and current points leader, has plenty of career accolades in Trans Am, 50 career Trans Am starts, 35 class wins included. But come the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear and Trans Am’s The 3-Dimensional Services Muscle Car Challenge and The 3-Dimensional Services Motor City Dash races, Francis will mark a career first: a TA2 class start.
When the news broke that Trans Am was opting to bring the TA2 class exclusively to Belle Isle in 2018, Francis immediately began looking at options to make his first career TA2 start— the allure of Belle Isle was too strong to pass up.
“I’ve always loved street courses; and amongst them all, Detroit is definitely my favorite,” said Francis. “I competed in my first street when I was 15 years old, and I’ve been hooked ever since. But Detroit is something special, the area, the scenery on Belle Isle, the atmosphere and a fan base that knows and loves racing— you just can’t beat it. I’ve won there with Trans Am twice now; it’s absolutely special for me. It just clicks.”
After some preliminary discussions at Homestead-Miami, Round 3 of the 2018 Trans Am Championship, Francis eventually began discussions with ECC Motorsports about taking up the challenge of TA2 in the Motor City.
“We started looking for ways to make the field pretty early only,” said Francis. “John Clagett was kind enough to put me in touch with ECC and things came together pretty quickly afterwards. They field a Meissen chassis just like we do at Breathless (Pro Racing); so even though it’s a TA2 car, there will be familiar elements and Mark (Meissen) will be on site helping out, so I know the car will be strong.”
The past several months have also seen Francis commence his career with Rev Racing, putting in laps within the stock car ranks— a platform very similar to the TA2 road racing machine.
“I think it’ll definitely help,” said Francis. “I’m getting a lot of seat time in a lot of different cars, all experience is vital— that’s always been the way for me, anything I can get behind the wheel of, I’m happy to drive it. So while it’s my first time in a TA2 car, I don’t feel like it will an insurmountable challenge to get up to speed.”
Finally, the event gives Francis an opportunity to compete with some Trans Am drivers he often shares the paddock with but rarely races against. Key amongst them are Shane Lewis, driver of the No. 92 for Napoleon Motorsports, and Gar Robinson, defending Detroit TA2 victor and driver of the No. 74 for Robinson Racing.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Francis. “Shane and I race together in South Florida all the time, and Gar and I used to race against each other in Spec Miata when we were really young. I feel like Detroit is going to be a great race. I don’t necessarily have any expectations; I’m just looking forward to going out there and having fun.”
2018 Trans Am TA2 class competition at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear is a high-stakes double points weekend. The two races, the 3-Dimensional Services Muscle Car Challenge, on Saturday June 2, and the 3-Dimensional Services Motor City Dash, on Sunday June 3, will feature the iconic TA2 class battle among the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger right in the very heart of the Motor City.
The Trans Am Series will bring with it an estimated 25 TA2 cars, featuring the likes of points leader Rafa Matos, Michigan’s own Marc Miller, 2016 Champion Tony Buffomante, Ernie Francis, Jr., and more.
Both single-day and multi-day ticketing options are available online at www.detroitgp.com/tickets
Trans Am Coverage:
Broadcast: The weekend’s 3-Dimensional Services Trans Am races will be recapped in a 90-minute highlight show on CBS Sports Network premiering Sunday, June 17, 2018, at 1:00 PM ET with an encore at 5:00 PM ET the same day.
Live Streaming: The 3-Dimensional Services Motor City Dash will be live streamed from 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM ET on Sunday June 3, on Motor Trend On Demand.