Trans Am heads north of the border in search of champions
May 8, 2013
The Trans Am Series is off to quite an impressive start.
Trans Am comes to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with a strong 28 car field, a 12 year high for the Canadian venue, and fresh off the highest entry in Trans Am racing since 2001 coming at Sebring.
As the 2013 Season heats up, drivers will be eager to begin building their point totals—and Canadian Tire is as good of a place as any to begin. The numbers simply do not lie, with 18 of the last 34 race winners at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park having gone on to win a Trans Am Championship that year.
The 28 car field will feature prior victors at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park such as Tony Ave, Bob Stretch, Pete Halsmer and Doug Peterson. Going into the race, it would seem as if everything is going Doug Peterson’s way. Peterson came into this year’s season riding momentum from last year, the result of two victories in 2012—the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the season finale at Road Atlanta, a pair of bookend victories for the season that saw him finish fourth in the points standings for the TA class. That momentum translated directly to the 2013 season opener at Sebring, which resulted in yet another season opening win for Peterson and the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette. Now time will tell if Peterson can keep his momentum going as he looks to once again replicate last year’s results in search of his third Trans Am victory in a row.
Chances are some of Peterson’s stiffest competition will come from a familiar place—teammate Tony Ave. Ave, driver of the #4 Lamers Motor Racing/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette, is always a threat to claim a victory come race day and has two Trans Am Championships as a testament to that very fact. While Ave finished third in the points last year, the result of a mechanically troubled 2012 campaign, he remains one of the favorites to wrestle the Championship from its current holder, Simon Gregg. Ave won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2011, completing a trifecta of fast qualifier, lap and a victory during the event, and is completely capable of replicating that result come race day.
The team of Ave and Peterson will not be alone in their quest for hardware. Defending Champion Simon Gregg and the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette is not in a hurry to relinquish his title and will remain in the podium conversation all year, just as he was last season—where he ran off a series of nine consecutive top three finishes.
Wherever Gregg is, Amy Ruman never seems to be far off. The dedicated driver of the #23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette fell just 11 points short of Gregg in the Championship last year; and while her third place finish at Sebring earlier this year was impressive, the Kent, Ohio, native will doubtlessly be hungry for more.
Featured heavily in the TA class will also be Canada’s own Allan Lewis, Blaise Csida and Andrew Romocki. The trio will desperately want to defend their home track and ensure that a victory in Canada stays in Canada. Csida and Lewis both drive Gateway Racing Chevrolet Corvettes, and with their garage trackside both would love to put in a good showing in their own backyard.
The race also marks the return of Cliff Ebben to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Last year Ebben was seriously injured on track, the result of a shattered drive shaft. The injury kept him out of a majority of the 2012 season. However, Ebben has been quick to bounce back to his winning ways—he claimed second place at Sebring just a few months ago, just behind Doug Peterson. Ebben and the #36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang will look forward to what should be a more routine appearance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and a more successful 2013 campaign.
The rapidly expanding TA2 class is sure to supply the same number of thrills and quality of competition as the TA class. Last year marked the return of Trans Am veteran Pete Halsmer to the Series, who was able to overcome defending TA2 Champion Bob Stretch en route to a victory. However, Stretch would go on to win the Championship once again, surpassing Halsmer by 23 points. Now, Halsmer, in the #12 Ctek/Motorstate/Northstar Battery Chevrolet Camaro, and Stretch, in the #98 Wheels America/Fix Rim Mobile Chevrolet Camaro, will face off once more in the pursuit of Trans Am glory.
That is not to say that TA2 will be a two-car race. The explosion of growth recently experienced by the class has resulted in a deep and talented pool of drivers with well-built cars underneath them. Key amongst those drivers is Cameron Lawrence, driver of the #11 Ctek/Motorstate/Northstar Battery Chevrolet Camaro. Lawrence joined Miller Racing mid-season last year and was quick to impress, finishing with four podium placements and a victory from the season finale at Road Atlanta to his name. He lived up to the fairly lofty expectations he created for himself at Sebring, where he was victorious at his home track, surpassing rookies Robert Huffmaster and Tom West, who finished second and third. Huffmaster and West will be sure to keep up the pressure on Lawrence, as both will be in attendance come race day. When asked on his recent success Lawrence remained humble.
“Most of my success has come from two sources.” Said Lawrence. “First, I’m spending more time with the team and we’re communicating better every time we go to the track. Second, these last two tracks, Road Atlanta and Sebring, are two that I have a good amount of track time on. Last season, every track we went to, expect Road Atlanta, was a completely new experience for me, now I just have to keep improving as I continue to get more seat time at the tracks.”
“The competition I face, race in and race, out really helps me keep my focus and makes me a better driver.” Continued Lawrence. “Both Pete (Halsmer) and Bob Stretch are great competitors. Racing against them is incredibly difficult and I learn something from every experience and the competition is great for the series and the class. I’m so excited to see Trans Am growing at the rate it is this season. The atmosphere is a tremendous experience to be a part of. TA2 is a great class, and is excellent at cost control and I think that really makes people consider it as an option for real professional, close racing. I don’t doubt that the series will continue to grow as more people realize the level of performance of both the cars and competition.”
Participating in their first ever Trans Am races will be Tony Buffomante in the #99 Securevansolutions.com/Fix Rim Chevrolet Camaro and Mike McGahern, a native Canadian, in the #48 Gateway Racing Chevrolet Camaro. With so many new additions to the class, who knows what the race will bring for TA2 or who will head south with silverware in hand.
Trans Am’s newest class, TA3 will also be present in the field. At the forefront of the production based class will be defending TA3 Champion Chuck Cassaro. Cassaro recently switched to a new car and now drives the #76 StackData/Aeromotive/Metallica Ford Mustang. Cassaro placed third at the season opener at Sebring despite a lack of time behind the wheel of his new car. Now, the defending Champion will enter the field with more track time and more confidence as he looks for yet another victory in his pursuit of a second title.
Trans Am will first take to the track for an official practice at 10:05 a.m. EST on Saturday May 18, with qualifying to follow later that day at 5:00 p.m. EST. On Sunday May 19, an autograph session will take place at 12:00 p.m. EST at the Trans Am Trailer, giving an opportunity for fans to come and meet the drivers one-on-one and immerse themselves in the Trans Am experience. Finally, the 100-mile race will begin at 4:15 p.m. EST.