Ruman Set to Once More Defend Trans Am Crown
She’s made history. Twice. But it’s still not enough. Road racing’s first, and first two-time, female champion wants more. Amy Ruman is back in Trans Am in 2017 and ready to tackle the upcoming season.
From her first win at Road Atlanta in 2011, to her first championship in 2015 and then her second in 2016, Amy Ruman and the No. 23 McNichols Chevrolet Corvette have seen plenty of success under the Trans Am banner. Now, with her two championships and 16 career wins in tow, the TA class’ defending champ is back and ready to once more defend her crown.
Since she stepped out of the car at Daytona International Raceway after a somehow come-from-behind points victory that secured her second championship in as many years, Amy Ruman and the Ruman Racing team have been hard at work preparing for 2017 with very little time spent away from their race shop based in Munroe Falls, Ohio.
“We took a short amount of time off,” said Ruman. “We ended up going directly from the win at Daytona to the PRI Show and then took some time off with the holidays and all that comes with them. The offseason is really pretty short, especially with our race coming in early March. The guys at the shop have been hard at work, re-bodying the McNichols 23 to the C7 bodywork, which hasn’t been easy. We haven’t had the opportunity to test like we wanted to—the new tires didn’t quite make it for the majors we wanted to run— but we’ll show up at Sebring and shake everything down and go from there.”
With all the accolades in tow, Ruman is ready to once more build on her platform of success in 2016 and carry it over to the new season—motivated as ever to once more drive her way to the top step of the podium.
“The winning momentum is easy to keep riding,” said Ruman. “When you go out at the end of the year at Daytona on top, it’s easy to start out on top— you want to keep it all going. Things will change somewhat this year with the new Pirelli tires, but we’ll adapt. From the feedback we’ve gotten elsewhere it doesn’t look like we’re looking at a huge setup change. But the level of competition is looking up; from what I’ve seen, we’re looking at 26 entries at Sebring—and I know we’re the team everyone wants to beat. They’ll all be coming for us.”
Squaring off with Ruman for honors at Sebring will be a rapidly changing competitor base, and she’s not taking anyone for granted.
“I think it’s going to be tough—Cliff (Ebben) and RJ (Lopez) are always hard to beat,” said Ruman. “I think Vinnie (Allegretta) will be a contender as well; he got faster and faster as the year went on. I think Ernie (Francis, Jr.,) is a very good driver, but I think it might take him some time to get up to speed with the TA platform—we’ll see. John Baucom has shown speed in the past as well.”
Not only will new drivers be injected into the Trans Am championship for 2017, but new venues will be forthcoming as well in the form of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I think any time you add a street race to the schedule it’s exciting,” said Ruman. “Anything can happen there; the courses can bite you so quickly. Detroit is especially difficult, but I love it there. Last year was great. Being back in Detroit and at that show, back with the fans and meeting them—it was an incredible experience. Indy will be the same from what I understand of the even; I mean, it’s Indianapolis! You dream about these things.”
Even with all the new tracks and rising competition Ruman has a plan for success and how she and the No. 23 can once more stand atop the points come year end.
“I think you just have to take it one race at a time,” said Ruman. “Our season is so long and can be a little stretched out. At times it almost feels like multiple seasons—a first half and a second half. With that comes the potential for some pretty big momentum swings. We only had three wins last year— we’ll need more than that if we expect to be in contention for a three-peat. And I need to capture more poles. I don’t feel like I qualified well last year, not that starting second is horrible, but you want to be able to turn those fast laps and grab those extra points—they end up being so important. But again, you have to take it one race at a time, or it just ends up getting away from you.”
“There’s pressure in leading the points,” said Ruman. “But the biggest pressure is always on the last race of the season when you have a lead— because at that point is yours to lose. There aren’t any expectations for second or third, what happens happens, but if you’re in the lead… the pressure is on. Still, that’s the position we want to be in. I’m just excited to get back in the car and get going. Another championship, capturing a three-peat, that would be awesome.”
You can see Amy Ruman, the TA class and the entirety of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at Sebring International Raceway on March 3-5 for Round 1 of the 2017 Trans Am Championship alongside the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association.