POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (August 9, 2020) — Road America is one of Chris Dyson’s favorite racetracks, and it’s never wise to bet against the veteran racer any time he appears at the classic 4.048-mile classic road racing circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Dyson has won there in IMSA Le Mans Prototypes for Mazda and for Bentley in the Pirelli World Challenge – and this past weekend you’d have made a lot of money putting all your chips on him. Dyson put his #20 Plaid Ford Mustang on the pole and then led every inch of the 100-mile Trans Am sprint race.
Despite a pair of yellow-flag restarts, one just five laps from the end, Dyson was in control of the race’s pace all the way, holding off defending series champion Ernie Francis Jr. to win by 8.19-seconds for his fifth career Trans Am victory, and first of the season.
"The car was absolutely fantastic the whole race, from start to finish." Dyson said. "The Plaid Mustang was brilliant and our Pirelli tires were strong the whole way. I never went faster than necessary to keep a safe lead, although I got a bit nervous on the last restart, because you can never take anything for granted in this series. We came here to win, and this was big for the team.”
Because Road America is such a long track and Trans Am qualifying sessions are brief – 20 minutes this weekend – there’s not much time to make adjustments. The driver has got to be ready and the car’s set up close to perfect when the green flag drops. Dyson, who won the pole here last year (but crashed in the race after experiencing brake failure at Turn 5) set his pole-winning time of 2:05.489 on just his second flying lap.
“It’s never easy to get pole in the Trans Am Series,” said Dyson. “The drivers up front will always keep you honest. We arrived here with the Plaid Mustang ready to go.
“At the end of the qualifying session – with just enough time left for one flying lap – we stopped in the pits to bleed the tires down,” Dyson said of his qualifying strategy. “We thought we were going to have to counter Tomy (Drissi, who ultimately qualified second) and Ernie (Francis, Jr.), but it turned out we had a good enough set up right away for pole.”
Long Memories of a Fabled Circuit
“We can never take results and days like today for granted. Especially at Road America. It’s one of my favorite tracks in the world. My family and I have been coming here my whole life – my dad raced here in the Trans Am in 1983.”
Chris first visited Elkhart Lake in 1986, as an eight-year-old with his father Rob and the Dyson Racing team for that year’s International Motor Sports Association Camel GT race. “It was a case of ‘love at first sight.’” Dyson, said, recalling the memory of his father piloting a Porsche 962 around the Kettle Moraine circuit. “To watch my father racing the IMSA GTP cars in their heyday around such a beautiful and fast layout made a massive, positive impression on me. Every time since then, whenever I drive into the track, those memories come flooding back.
“These early memories have always infused my experiences as a driver at Road America,” Dyson said. “It is amongst the truly iconic mid-century circuits and the history of the place is just astounding. The experience of being at the track is wonderful for everyone – drivers, crew, spectators and workers. The track management has constantly improved the amenities for fans and for crews – I can’t believe how much easier life here is for everyone than when I first visited here 34 years ago – while never changing the essential character of the place. People are genuinely happy to be there and that enhances the atmosphere.”
Dyson has raced at just about every major road-racing circuit in North America and many others around the world. But Road America remains a particular favorite, and not just because of his visit as a boy watching his dad compete.
“I have had some terrific success at Road America in my career,” Dyson said. “It has been one of my most successful tracks as a driver. It’s terrific to be able to add the Trans Am race win and another pole position to the races I’ve won here in ALMS and World Challenge.”
The next event in the Trans Am by Pirelli series will be September 11-13 at Watkins Glen International.