Trans Am Continues Long Tradition at Sonoma Raceway
March 12, 2020
Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship returns to action at Sonoma Raceway this weekend
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship continues a long tradition of competition at Sonoma Raceway. Many of the legends of American sports car racing have been Trans Am winners at the fabled California circuit.
Over the years, Sonoma Raceway has hosted the national Trans Am Championship 24 times from 1969 through 2004. Trans Am added Sonoma back to its schedule in 2018 with the creation of the West Coast Championship and this season the Championship will visit Sonoma twice.
The circuit hosted both spring and fall races five times from 1982 through 1986. It was the site of the 1978 season opener, in addition to serving as the season finale in 1981 and 1982.
Trans Am’s first visit to what was then known as Sears Point International Speedway came in 1969. Mark Donohue won his fifth of six races to boost Chevrolet to its second consecutive manufacturer championship. In addition, Donohue captured the unofficial driver championship for the second straight year, although that title was not officially instated until the 1971 season.
Donohue did not have the fastest car that day, but the Penske Racing team excelled in the pits. Parnelli Jones, driving the Bud Boore Ford Mustang, qualified two seconds faster than Donohue’s Roger Penske-fielded Sunoco Camaro. Donohue needed to make three pit stops, to only two for Jones. However, the overall time on pit road for the Penske Camaro was 31 seconds faster than Jones’ two stops. Donohue led only the final 11 of the 80 laps, beating Jones to the checkered flag by 2.17 seconds.
Darin Brassfield was the most successful Trans Am racer at Sonoma, winning four consecutive years from 1989 through 1992. His first Sears Point victory came after a thrilling race-long duel with Dorsey Schroeder.
Brassfield was at the wheel of a privately entered Corvette, and he held off Schroeder – a current Trans Am official – by 0.17 seconds, the closest finish in event history. Brassfield won the following two years in a Rocketsports Oldsmobile Cutlass, and made it four in a row in 1992 driving a Camaro owned by George Robinson.
Tom Gloy also was a four-time winning entrant. He drove his own Ford Mustang to victory in 1981 and 1982, and fielded the winning Mustang for Schroeder in 1995, and a Qvale Mangusta for Brian Simo in 2001.
Greg Pickett was a three-time Sonoma winner, driving his own Corvette in 1978 and Roush Mercury Capris in both 1984 events. In addition to his Trans Am Championship victories, he also won the 2018 Trans Am West Championship presented by Pirelli at the circuit.
Willy T. Ribbs also pulled off the hat trick, winning in fall 1983 in a DeAtley Camaro; sprint 1985 in a Roush Capri; and 1988 in a Les Lindley Camaro.
Two-time winners at Sonoma included Elliott Forbes-Robinson (U2 driving a Porsche 911 in 1969 and fall 1985 in a Buick); Wally Dallenbach Jr., who swept the 1986 races in Protofab Camaros; and Scott Pruett (1987 in a Roush Mercury MerkurXR4Ti and 2003 in a Rocketsports Jaguar XKR).
In 2004, won by Boris Said in a Ford Mustang.
Greg Pickett won the 2018 event in a Ford Mustang, with Tomy Drissi of Hollywood second in a Chevrolet Camaro. Thomas Merrill was the TA2 class winner in a Mustang. Last year, Simon Gregg scored his third consecutive triumph in a Corvette, going on to win the championship. Derek Kraus was the TA2 winner.
Drivers will participate in open testing on Friday, March 13, as the official weekend starts on Saturday with an all class 40-minute practice beginning at 9:15 a.m. PST followed by back-to-back 30-minute qualifying sessions at 2:00 p.m. The Trans Am West Coast weekend will commence Sunday with a massive dose of roaring American muscle cars, featuring the 100-mile race starting at 1:05 p.m.
Live timing and scoring is available on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing app. Download the free app here:
For more information, visit GoTransAm.com.
Trans Am West Coast Championship by Pirelli 2020 Schedule
March 14-15 Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. (w/ NASA)
April 4-5 Thunderhill Raceway Park, Willows, Calif. (w/NASA)
May 1-3 Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. (w/SVRA)
July 24-26 Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. (w/ SVRA)
Aug. 29-30 Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. (with NASA)
Nov. 6-8 COTA, Austin, Texas (w/SVRA)
Trans Am Event Schedule for Live Streaming:
· Sebring International Raceway March 1
· Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta March 28-29
· WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca May 1-3
· Lime Rock Park May 22-25
· Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 19-21
· Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course June 26-28
· Watkins Glen International September 11-13
· Virginia International Raceway September 27-27
· Circuit of the Americas November 6-8