On this Day in Trans Am History: Aug. 31, 2003
August 31, 2020
August 31, 2003
The second and final edition of the West Michigan Grand Prix was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1999.
The Johnson Controls 100 was held at the Scott Brayton Memorial Street Circuit, a 13-turn street course designed by Alan Wilson and dedicated to the late Indy car driver, who lost his life during Indy 500 practice one day after winning the pole in 1996.
Brian Simo won the pole in the No. 2 Valvoline Ford Mustang with a lap of 1:16.244-seconds, and was joined in the Fast Five by Paul Gentilozzi, Michael Lewis, G.J. Mennen and Chris Neville.
Simo sprinted to the lead at the drop of the green flag and led all 64 laps on the 1.58-mile circuit, beating Johnny Miller IV in the No. 64 Chevrolet Camaro by 7.290-seconds. Leighton Reese was awarded the final step on the podium in the No. 66 Pontiac Grand Prix, after Neville in the No. 66 Tommy Bahama Ford Mustang Cobra was penalized one position for unnecessary contact.
Gentilozzi rounded out the top five, followed by current TA contender Simon Gregg in the No. 59 Camaro.
Simo averaged 62.79 mph. Neville turned in the fastest lap of the race, 1:17.169-seconds, on the 47th lap.
Bill Saunders won the 1998 inaugural event in a Corvette after Gentilozzi won the pole and turned the fastest lap in a Corvette.
With no major sponsorship, coupled with complaints due to the noise and closed streets, the race folded in 1999. However, the spirit of the event lives on with the annual running of a major bicycle race.
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