Rich Tradition of Trans Am Racing Continues at Sebring
March 2, 2019
SEBRING, FL (2 March 2019) - The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will open its 2019 campaign at the same circuit where it debuted in 1966, returning to the Florida Highlands region to compete at the legendary Sebring International Raceway.
This will mark the 14th Trans Am event at the historic 17-turn, 3.74-mile airport-based circuit, as the series shares the asphalt with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) during the Sebring Vintage Classic.
Jochen Rindt, the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hour winner for Ferrari, won the first Sebring Trans Am race, the Four-Hour Governor’s Cup held on Friday, March 25, 1966, the day before the 12 Hours.
Rindt was driving an Alfa Romeo 1600GTA. While Rindt rolled his car during pre-event practice, he went on to win over the 40-car field. The early racing saw a side-by-side battle for the lead between A.J. Foyt in a Ford Mustang and Charley Rainville in a Plymouth Barracuda. Bob Tullius finished second in a Dodge Dart, with Alfas taking the next three positions.
Trans Am returned the following year as the Four-Hour International, drawing a then-record 61 entries. Jerry Titus won in a Ford Mustang, lapping the second-place Camaro Z-28 of Mark Donohue. Peter Gregg and Sam Posey took honors in the Under-two liter class, driving a Porsche 911.
In 1968, Trans Am ran concurrently with the 12 Hours of Sebring. While Porsche backed up its 1-2-3 finish in the Daytona 24 Hours by taking the top two positions at Sebring with its potent 907s, Mark Donohue and Craig Fisher took Trans Am honors with a third-place overall finish. Roger Penske-entered Camaros placed third and fourth overall, with Joe Welch and Bob Johnson finishing behind their winning teammates.
The Under two-liter class ran a separate race on Friday, with Bert Everett winning the three-hour Governor’s Cup in a Porsche 911.
With the series moving to shorter races, the next Trans Am race at Sebring was not until 1999, with a stand-alone weekend serving as the finale. Paul Gentilozzi capped his championship season by winning in a Ford Mustang.
For 2000 and 2001, Trans Am ran in support of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Brian Simo won the 2000 season opener in a Qvale Mangusta, while Boris Said won the following year in a Ford Mustang.
Trans Am next returned in 2011 during the 12 Hours weekend, with R.J. Lopez winning a 103.5-mile race in a Corvette.
Since 2013, Trans Am has been a major component of the SVRA Sebring Vintage Classic, held two weekends prior to the Mobil 1 12 Hours.
Doug Peterson scored the 2013 and 2014 overall victories in a Corvette, while Cameron Lawrence captured both TA2 victories in a Camaro. The two drivers went on to win their respective titles in both seasons.
Amy Ruman won the 2015 season opener to begin her successful bid to become Trans Am’s first female champion. Lawrence took his third consecutive Sebring TA2 triumph, this time at the wheel of a Dodge Challenger.
Kenny Bupp led the 2016 event by winning TA in a Camaro, while Gar Robinson led TA2, also in a Camaro. The following year, Cliff Ebben led TA and Dillon Machvern paced TA2, both in Ford Mustangs.
Last year, Ernie Francis Jr. won the lead TA class in a Ford Mustang. Dodge Challenger driver Marc Miller took a dramatic victory in TA2, passing Rafa Matos for the lead with only two laps remaining. Mark Boden took his second consecutive Sebring TA3 (now SuperGT) triumph in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, while Andrew Aquilante paced TA4 (now GT) in a Camaro.
At this weekend’s event, each of the four Trans Am classes will have testing sessions on Friday to open on-track activities. Saturday begins with practice at 11:30 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying for each of the classes beginning at 4:55 p.m. The TA2 race will take the green flag on Sunday at 11:10 a.m., while the TA, SGT and GT classes will compete beginning at 3:25 p.m.
The Sebring Vintage Classic offers racing for all SVRA race groups, highlighted by an MG Marque Reunion.
Please visit http://gotransam.com for additional details.