On This Day in Trans Am History: Oct. 29, 1989
October 29, 2020
Oct. 29, 1989
Irv Hoerr wrapped up the 1989 Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli season with a dominant victory on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Peoria driver was at the wheel of his father Rudy’s No. 15 AC Rochester Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Hoerr won the pole with a lap of 1:19.677-seconds, and then led the opening nine laps.
He then did the “undercut” by being the first contender to pit. The stop gave the lead to outside front row starter Dorsey Schroeder in the No. 25 Motorcraft Ford Mustang, with Schroeder leading a dozen laps.
“Back then, Trans Am required one pit stop for fuel, but there was a minimum amount you had to put in,” Hoerr recalled. “We were the first team to figure out – actually it was my dad (Rudy Hoerr) – that if you were the first team to pit, then when everybody else pitted, the worst that could happen was you would end up where you were. But if there was a yellow – as they finally figured out in NASCAR – and if you already pitted, you’d wind up leading the race.
“But it didn’t take long for [Jack] Roush and the other guys to figure it out.”
When Schroeder pitted, rookie Scott Sharp took charge, leading the next 23 circuits in the red, white and blue No. 33 Pepsi Oldsmobile Cutlass owned by Newman Sharp Racing and prepared by Kevin Doran. But he still needed to pit, and when Sharp did, the lead went back to Hoerr, who led the final 19 of the 63 laps on the two-mile circuit.
“Back then, it was a lot different than it is now,” Hoerr said. “It was really tight at the far end of the track, and I liked it. I always liked street circuits, period. At the time I stopped running Trans Am, I had the best record of anybody on street circuits. I really liked the blind corners and having to be so precise on the blind corners. To really hit an apex correctly on a street circuit, you sometimes had to rub the wall. Tommy Kendall was another guy who could do it.”
Kendall finished second in that race, .468-seconds back in the Cars & Concepts/ICI Chevrolet Beretta, followed by Schroeder, Robert Lappalainen in a Roush Mustang, Paul Gentilozzi in the Budweiser Oldsmobile, Sharp and Lyn St. James in the Secret/Sure/Duralt Mustang.
Hoerr’s series-leading seventh pole and fourth triumph were not enough to take the championship. He won the season opener at Long Beach, in addition to mid-season triumphs at Cleveland and Brainerd. Schroeder won by 40 points by virtue of six poles, six victories and a dozen top-five finishes. Kendall finished third, 16 points behind Hoerr.
This was the fifth Trans Am in St. Petersburg, running near Bayfront Center on the waterfront. Willy T. Ribbs won the first race in 1985, with the last race won by Chris Kneifel in 1990. Trans Am returned to St. Pete in 1996, on a 1.6-mile circuit around the ThunderDome.
“Back then, St. Petersburg was a very narrow, skinny, tight course,” Hoerr said. “It was tough for everybody.”
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