On This Day in Trans Am History: Oct. 19, 1980
October 19, 2020
Oct. 19, 1980
Greg Pickett’s late-season charge came up short in a bid to capture the 1980 Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli championship.
After missing the opening three rounds of the campaign – and then placing 36th at Road America, Pickett served notice by rolling off second-place finishes at Brainerd and Trois-Rivieres. Missing the event at Westwood, Pickett then ended the year by winning the October 19 race at Laguna Seca and season finale at Riverside, placing second in the final standings behind John Bauer.
Pickett won the 1978 Category II title, winning four races – including Laguna Seca. After starting only two rounds in 1979, he made his return four races into the 1980 campaign.
With Pickett on the sidelines early in the season, John Bauer roared into title contention by winning early-season races at Hallett, Watkins Glen and Brainerd in a Porsche 911SC. He also took advantage of Pickett’s absence to win at Westwood. He scored half of his eight career victories in 1980, winning his lone championship by 51 points over Pickett.
Pickett won the pole for the race at Laguna Seca, and was joined on the front row by Bauer. His rival crashed out at the midway point, opening the door for Pickett’s 52-lap, flag-to-flag victory.
Frank Leary took second in a Datsun 280ZX, the only other car on the lead lap. He was followed by Mark Pielsticker in a Chevrolet Monza, Art Siri Jr. in a Monza and John Brandt in a Corvette.
The race had a 48-car entry, with 42 competitors taking the green flag.
Since that day, 47 of those drivers have retired to the sidelines. Pickett, though, is still going strong. He’s won all four 2020 Trans Am West Coast races from the pole, and has a healthy lead in the standings with only events at Circuit of The Americas and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca remaining,