Gar Robinson Wins First TA Race in Trans Am Return at COTA
November 5, 2023
AUSTIN, Texas (November 5, 2023) - Gar Robinson dominated in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli race at Circuit of The Americas. The two-time Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series champion led nearly the entire race in his first TA class event, extending his family’s winning legacy in a new Riley Motorsports chassis. While he was briefly challenged by Boris Said, Robinson had a nearly perfect day that ended with standing on the top step of the podium at his home track.
Robinson led the field to green in his No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, followed by TA champions Boris Said (No. 79 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger), Chris Dyson (No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang), Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang) and Wally Dallenbach (No. 4 Ultimate Headers/Weaver Racing Dodge Challenger). It was smooth sailing for Robinson, who held the point position through the first full-course yellow on lap eight. Restarting on lap 11, Said was tight on Robinson’s tail, taking over the point position by the following lap. On lap 12, Dyson’s Ford Mustang spun, but the 2023 champion was able to keep moving, while Robinson and Said battled side by side, with Robinson reclaiming the lead on lap 13.
Robinson and Said were in a class of their own in the front of the pack, while Dallenbach overcame issues in practice and qualifying, driving from the back of the field up to third place, passing a fast Drissi on lap 21. When the checkered flag waved, it was Robinson, Said and Dallenbach who took the podium spots, followed by Dyson and Drissi.
“That was probably my favorite start ever in all my all my starts in motorsports,” said Robinson. “These are the most fun cars to drive. Being able to drive against all the guys that my dad used to drive against, all the legends, and to be a part of it and to share it with all my friends and family is amazing. Extending the relationship between my family and Riley Motorsports and being back here in Trans Am has made this the best day ever.”
Notes of Interest:
All five starters in the TA class were former champions. Boris Said, Wally Dallenbach, Chris Dyson, and Tomy Drissi all have TA titles, while Gar Robinson is a two-time champion in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series.
This was Robinson’s first TA class race and first Trans Am event since 2021.
National Championship TA Top Five:
1. Gar Robinson, No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro
2. Boris Said, No. 79 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger
3. Wally Dallenbach, No. 4 Ultimate Headers/Weaver Racing Dodge Challenger
4. Chris Dyson, No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang
5. Tomy Drissi, No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang
National Championship TA Champion:
Chris Dyson, No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang
Western Championship TA Champion:
Steve Goldman, No. 13 LIG Racing Chevrolet Corvette
TA Masters Award:
Boris Said, No. 79 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw Dodge Challenger
COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Gar Robinson, No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro
Serck Precision Award
JC Meynet, No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette
The XGT race was full of ups and downs for its winner, but first-place starter Marc Austin ultimately won the race at his home track in his No. 11 1492 Cager Works/The Coat Lab/Snap-on Mercedes GT3 following a cut tire and a spin on lap 18. 2023 XGT champion Danny Lowry (No. 43 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Mercedes AMG GT3) took over the lead for the second half of the race and seemed to be on his way to another victory, but Austin recovered at just the right time, making a late-race pass for the win.
“We had a really great race today, thanks everybody,” said Austin. “We had a little bad luck; we're leading the whole thing and I was having a ball staying up there with the big boys and watching them fight until we cut a tire down. The Lonestar racing team got the tire changed so fast to get me back out there, it was amazing. It’s the best team there is. It's fun to be back here in Trans Am and to be at home to take a win. There’s no better racetrack around.”
National Championship XGT Results:
1. Marc Austin, No. 11 1492 Cager Works/The Coat Lab/Snap-on Mercedes GT3
2. Danny Lowry, No. 43 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Mercedes AMG GT3
3. Ricky Sanders, No. 18 BridgeHaul/Bennett Family of Companies Audi R8 LMS
National Championship XGT Champion:
Danny Lowry, No. 43 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Mercedes AMG GT3
Will Rodgers in the No. 32 Chris Evans Race Cars & Design Ford Mustang was looking to extend his streak of winning every Western Championship event he participated in this season, but trouble struck the pole winner before the completion of the first lap. Rodgers had a tire go down, which sent him to pit road and put him laps down from the very beginning. It was Xuanqian Wang in the No. 22 AURALIC Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO who had the opportunity to dominate the race. Despite spinning twice, Wang had so much speed that he easily led every lap in XGT. Michelle Nagai (No. 72 Nagai Racing/Berkeley Jet Drive Chevrolet Camaro) finished second despite mechanical issues of her own, and Rodgers was relegated to a third-place finish.
“This car is a handful to drive; it’s tricky, it’s fast, but the team is doing a great job,” said Wang. “I want to thank my coach, he’s doing a really good job to help me progress and we’re 10 seconds faster from the beginning of the weekend until now. The good news is, I’ve got a comfortable race car and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Western Championship XGT Results:
1. Xuanqian Wang, No. 22 AURALIC Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO
2. Michelle Nagai, No. 72 Nagai Racing/Berkeley Jet Drive Chevrolet Camaro
3. Will Rodgers, No. 32 Chris Evans Race Cars & Design Ford Mustang
Western Championship XGT Champion:
Will Rodgers, No. 32 Chris Evans Race Cars & Design Ford Mustang
Richard Forsythe in the No. 58 Sambuca Restaurant/GSpeed Chevrolet Corvette had the perfect day at COTA, leading from start to finish in SGT’s National Championship. Milton Grant (No. 55 Springhill Suites/Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup) had speed, but was never able to catch Forsythe, finishing second in class.
“Oh my God, what an amazing race,” said Forsythe. “We were having huge gearbox issues, but my GSpeed team never let me down. It was a new setup we tried. I want to thank GSpeed for all the work they've done. Those guys are amazing. They have the most amazing skills and they never let me down. Thanks to our other sponsor, Sambuca Restaurant. Thanks to Louis, Cory, Jason and Dakota. This one is for you, you guys rock.”
National Championship SGT Results:
1. Richard Forsythe, No. 58 Sambuca Restaurant/GSpeed Chevrolet Corvette
2. Milton Grant, No. 55 Springhill Suites/Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup
National Championship SGT Champion:
Lee Saunders, No. 84 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper
As the only contender in the Western Championship’s SGT class, Michael LaPaglia had a clear path to victory in his No. 31 Papini’s Garage/F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang. LaPaglia, who had also competed in the TA2 race earlier in the day was fastest overall in SGT, beating the National Championship contenders on his way to victory.
“I feel pretty good,” said LaPaglia. “I’m definitely really sweaty. It was a long race, but super fun. What a treat to have the Mustang back out here at COTA. A typical Ford, we dusted it off, checked the tire pressure and ran perfect. I’ve got to thank Papini’s Garage and my dad, who had the great idea to race two cars in one day. It was pretty fun to do with JC [Meynet] and awesome to get my first West Coast win in the TA2 class and battle it out with the SGT guys.”
Western Championship SGT Results:
1. Michael LaPaglia, No. 31 Papini’s Garage/F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang
Chris Coffey in the No. 97 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4 led from flag to flag in the GT class despite a competitive field behind him. Coffey beat out second-place Joey DaSilva (No. 67 Ave Motorsports Toyota Supra), who was never far behind the leader. Todd Napieralski in the No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/SKF/Turn Key Chevrolet Camaro rounded out the podium. 2023 GT champion Michael Attaway in the No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Audi R8 was fourth, and Jack Rinke in the No. 12 Chevrolet Performance Chevrolet Camaro rounded out the top five.
“That was a hard-fought battle,” said Coffey. “There at the beginning, we got a little bit of traffic between me and Joey [DaSilva] here. It took everything I could to keep him behind me. It was just an absolute blast. I had to push so hard at both restarts. I just want to thank all these West Coast guys for coming out and giving us so many GT entries. It's pretty awesome. This weekend, we had more entries than any other classes in this race. Let's keep that going. On to next year."
National Championship GT Results:
1. Chris Coffey, No. 97 Norwood Auto Italia/Traffic Grafix Maserati MC GT4
2. Joey DaSilva, No. 67 Ave Motorsports Toyota Supra
3. Todd Napieralski, No. 39 Chevrolet Performance/SKF/Turn Key Chevrolet Camaro
4. Michael Attaway, No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Audi R8
5. Jack Rinke, No. 12 Chevrolet Performance Chevrolet Camaro
National Championship GT Champion:
Michael Attaway, No. 91 Bennett/BridgeHaul/Pitboxes.com Audi R8
JC Meynet (No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette), who came into COTA as the Western Championship’s GT class points leader, had successful a double-duty day, making his debut in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series earlier in the day and winning both the race and the championship in the TA/XGT/SGT/GT event. Meynet and David Hampton (No. 14 AR Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 CS) swapped positions back and forth throughout the 30-lap event, and Hampton initially crossed the finish line first with Meynet in second, but Hampton was issued a 40-second penalty, which moved him back to second in class. The pair were joined by Larry Luck in the No. 116 Luck Services BMW M3 on the podium, while Martin Sarukhanyan in the No. 111 Cobalt Brakes Mazda Miata and Joe Bogetich in the No. 65 Westover Controls Chevrolet Camaro rounded out the top five.
“Today was pretty awesome,” said Meynet. “I did the TA2 race earlier today for the first time ever, so I was pretty beat up. I might look like the picture of fitness, but I'm not maybe quite as good as some of these teenage boys out here. But I had a blast and learned a lot. GT was awesome. These guys have been great to race with, real fair, real even. It’s just a lot of fun. I want to say thanks to my crew, my family, my mom, my sister, my nephew, my wife, Carrie. I appreciate Trans Am doing a great job. Thank you to all the fans. It's an awesome day.”
Western Championship GT Top Five:
1. JC Meynet, No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette
2. David Hampton, No. 14 AR Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 CS
3. Larry Luck, No. 116 Luck Services BMW M3
4. Martin Sarukhanyan, No. 111 Cobalt Brakes Mazda Miata
5. Joe Bogetich, No. 65 Westover Controls Chevrolet Camaro
Western Championship GT Champion:
JC Meynet, No. 28 Killer Shrimp Racing Chevrolet Corvette
Full official race results can be found here.
The replay of today’s race will air on MAVTV on Thursday, November 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The Trans Am Series TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes kick of next season at Sebring International Raceway, February 22-25, 2024.