Inside Trans Am Racing with Tom Sheehan
May 18, 2023
BOW, New Hampshire - Although Tom Sheehan and his No. 97 LTK Insulation Technologies Damon Racing Ford Mustang are a single marker from a top 20 points standings ranking, the New Hampshire native strives for maximum results and points with Round 4 at Lime Rock Park awaiting on May 26-29, 2023.
The venerable TA2 racer believes that he and his team can achieve more in this close quarters sports car division.
“I am not really satisfied with our performance over the first three races, but it’s a blessing to be in the position I am,” Tom said. “Driving a TA2 car in a field stacked with talented drivers is extremely rewarding. I’m not complaining. I am extremely grateful.”
Of course, Tom appreciates every opportunity that he has to compete in one of the most premier levels of sports car racing. Likewise, he and his team work ardently to elevate their craft ahead of each race weekend.
“The program keeps getting better,” he said. “It’s the perspective that keeps changing. As the No. 97 picks up some speed, my competition finds a little more. So, it’s hard to go faster on the stopwatch and fall farther down the speed chart.
“But that’s why I love to compete. I have to dig in and work harder. The same can be said about my team. It’s real racing. The TA2 field is on the gas.”
The pursuit for speed and competitive results is a relentless but rewarding experience for Tom and his team. With the intensity picking up each season, Tom and his team continually strive toward elevating their approach and efforts.
“I think the gap between the top ten and the top 20 is akin to the gap between the top three and top 10 three seasons ago,” Tom said. “It’s not a stretch to say there are 15 cars that could podium in that section of the grid.
“Generally, the inversions of who moved from the top 15 and who improved to the top 15 is pretty impressive. Nonetheless, nobody comes here to run 20th. It’s just how good the racing is.”
After finishing P22 in the season opener at Sebring, Tom logged back-to-back P19 place results at NOLA Motorsports Park and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
While relatively on par with his start from last year, Tom hopes to reel off strong results with a bit of a homecoming race weekend at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Last year, Tom started P24 before rocketing his way to an impressive ninth place result. Suffice to say, Tom enjoys racing at the 1.53-mile, 7-turn road course.
Perhaps it can be explained by one of his fondest racing memories and his trademark diligent New England work ethic.
“Lime Rock is a special place,” he said. “I won my first race there before a couple of my colleagues were born. It’s always about the same thing - preparation.
“When you unload fast, you have a chance at keeping up with the racetrack. Being a session behind your competitors is a huge disadvantage. So, being prepared is the key.”
Aside from Lime Rock, Tom and his team are gearing up for a busy stretch in June in which the TA2 circuit heads to Detroit, Mid-Ohio and Road America. Of the upcoming circuits, Tom looks forward to taking on Detroit and Mid-Ohio. By all means, Detroit may be an equalizer in terms of drivers and teams being tabula rasas with no previous exeperience who must adapt to this 1.7-mile, 10-turn street course.
“Detroit is a new street course for me,” Tom said. “It’s all even when we start turning wheels. I don’t believe anyone in our field has any time on the circuit. I’m a fast learner and being smart is a big focus on any street course. It’s a sea of concrete and I think it suits my approach.”
From the unknowns of the street course in the Motor City to the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, site of Round 7 of the 2023 season, Tom looks forward to competing at this methodical, driver’s road course.
“I love Mid-Ohio,” he said. “It’s a gritty little place. It’s tough to pass at that track but it is also fair. It’s really a chess match for drivers with being smart and tire management can pay dividends. I’m excited just thinking about all that’s ahead!”
In the meantime, Tom, an ardent fan of 1990s rock music, is as ready to get back in his unmistakable No. 97 car like a rockstar ready to perform on stage. Perhaps Tom’s sentiments can be summed up by a Smashing Pumpkins lyric from their 1996 song, “Tonight, Tonight,” in which he believes in his team like they believe in him.
“I’m proud to have been a part of it for as long as I have,” Tom said. It’s pretty special. I try and remind myself that this is pretty awesome.”
This year, Trans Am races are available for live streaming on Trans Am and SpeedTour’s YouTube channels with full playbacks immediately available after the race. Also, the races can be seen in edited, 60-minute features broadcasted on MAVTV’s Thursday night primetime slot at 8 p.m. ET.
Follow Tom’s social media channels via his Facebook page, Damon Racing, Instagram account, TomSheehanTA97, and Twitter account, TomTA2_97.
For more information on LTK Insulation Technologies, please visit the website online at https://ltkinsulationtechnologies.com.
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