On This Day in Trans Am History: March 25, 1966
March 25, 2021
March 25, 1966:
A new era in North American motorsports began with the debut of what is now the Trans Am Championship presented by Pirelli with the running of the four-hour Governor’s Cup Race for Sedans at Sebring International Raceway.
The Sports Car Club of America rolled out the Trans-American Sedan Championship to showcase popular domestic “pony cars,” including the Ford Mustang, Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Dart and Chevrolet Corvair (soon to be replaced by the Camaro), competing against hot imports by manufacturers including Alfa, Honda, Saab, Renault, BMC, Lotus and Volvo.
Unlike other major series – which concentrated on the drivers – Trans Am was a manufacturers’ championship during its early years.
Setting a Trans Am tradition, the field included stars of the sport, including then two-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt and reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Formula One regular Jochen Rindt.
Foy battled Charlie Rainville in a Barracuda over the opening two laps before taking the lead. Foyt then dominated the next 11 circuits in his No. 4 Ford Mustang prior to his first pit stop, which lasted six minutes. Foyt failed to finish the event.
Foyt’s misfortunes gave the lead to the Dodge Dart of Bob Tullius, who turned the fastest lap of the race (88.8 mph) but also lost ground on a long pit stop.
Rindt took the lead near the three-hour mark and went on to win, completing 67 laps to win over the 44-car field in an Alfa Romeo GTA. His winning car showed the effect of a roll-over in practice – which his team did not have enough time to repair. Rindt won by one lap over Tullius, who won the over-two liter class.
(Photo Trans-Am Racing 1966-85)