On This Day in Trans Am History: June 18, 1989

June 18, 2020

On This Day in Trans Am History: June 18, 1989

June 18, 1989

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli returned to its American Muscle roots in 1989, and both General Motors and Ford turned out en force for their hometown race. The two manufacturers were represented by five brands and nine models in an impressive 42-car entry for the 100-mile event on the street circuit circling the Renaissance Center, GM’s world headquarters.

Greg Pickett, making his lone appearance of the season, drove to his 14th career victory in the No. 90 Mobil 1 Corvette fielded by Tommy Morrison.

It was a podium sweep for Chevrolet – represented by three different models. Pickett won in a Corvette, Willy T. Ribbs took second in the No. 80 Les Lindley Racing Camaro and Tommy Kendall placed third in the No. 01 Cars & Concepts/ICI Beretta.

Dorsey Schroeder was the top finisher for Ford, taking fourth in the No. 25 Motorcraft Mustang.

Other models represented (with their top-finishing driver) were Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (Mike Ciasulli, fifth); Oldsmobile Toronado (Kenny Hendrick, seventh); Buick Regal (Craig Bennett, 21st); Pontiac Firebird (Tim Taylor (38th); and Pontiac Fiero (Len Moore, DNS, crashed in practice).

Schroeder captured the pole with a lap of 1:57.029-seconds and led the opening five laps. Wally Dallenbach then took over and led the next 20 laps in the No. 2 Stroh’s Light/AER Mustang, setting the fastest race lap in the process. Dallenbach retired while leading with a broken rocker arm.

That put Chris Kneifel out front in the No. 03 C&C/ICI Camaro. Kneifel led 13 laps but went out with late-race engine failure, putting Pickett out front. Kneifel earned Duralt Star of the Race recognition for his efforts.

Pickett led the final two of the 40 laps, beating Ribbs to the checkered flag by 16.98-seconds.

Coming off a career-best third at Addison, Ciasulli had an impressive run in the Oldsmobile owned by Rudy and Annie Hoerr.

“I remember there were a lot of brass from Oldsmobile at that race, and I wanted to do my best and put on a good show for them,” Ciasulli recalled. “I remember Jack Roush coming up to me after the race and congratulating me for a good drive, because I beat three of his four cars. That was pretty cool. I still have a photo from that race on the wall, with my car in front of that big statue. That’s still one of my favorite photos.”

It was a bittersweet day for the Hoerr team, though. Lead driver Irv Hoerr failed to compete a lap due to a fire and placed 39th, which proved costly as he went on to finish second in the championship – 65 points behind Schroeder. The pair won 10 of the 14 races, with Hoerr collecting seven poles.


PHOTO _ Greg Pickett’s Corvette leads the Camaro of Willy T. Ribbs en route to victory at Detroit in 1989. (Mark Windecker photo)

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