On this Day in Trans Am History: Sept. 4, 2011
September 4, 2020
Sept. 4, 2011
Later in September, the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli visits Virginia International Raceway for a doubleheader – with full-length feature races on both Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27.
This has happened before.
Trans Am ran twin features at Brainerd International Raceway in both 2011 and 2012, and closed its 2012 campaign with a doubleheader at Road Atlanta. In addition, the TA2® Powered by AEM ran back-to-back races at Detroit in both 2018 and 2019.
Tony Ave was the most successful TA driver in the three doubleheaders, winning four of the six races. He will be attending the VIR event, although not yet sure if he will be driving.
“I liked the doubleheader format,” Ave said. “On our old doubleheaders, we didn’t have quite the practice time, so we concentrated on qualifying and the race. If you were planning to do the doubleheader with one car, finding the balance between making it fast enough while making it reliable enough to get through the two races was the key. That’s something we always worked on, and I liked that.”
On Sept. 4, 2011, Ave finished a doubleheader sweep with his third-straight victory at Brainerd (he won a solo race in 2010). Ave clinched his second-consecutive TA crown by virtue of starting on the pole in the No. 4 Lamers/Beebe Racing Optech/PME Corvette.
However, the victory was far from easy. Ave spun in Turn 12 on the opening lap, allowing most of the field to stream past. Rejoining the field in eighth place, Ave began moving up through the field while Amy Ruman built up a 30-second lead.
A rain shower hit the track, with Ave keeping the pressure on while many of the leaders slowed. He took the lead on the 12th lap, and led for the remainder of the 40-lap event. Cliff Ebben finished second, 9.513-seconds back, followed by Ruman and Simon Gregg.
In TA2®, Bob Stretch also scored a weekend sweep – clinching the title in the process with a sixth-place overall finish in the Sunday race.
Ave went on to capture his second-consecutive TA title, beating out Gregg by 229 points with Ruman placing third.
The following year, Ave made it four-in-a-row at Brainerd by winning the Saturday feature, followed by Doug Peterson and Gregg. Amy Ruman snapped his streak by winning the Sunday race ahead of Gregg, Peterson and Ave. Pete Halsmer was the Saturday TA2 winner, with Stretch beating Halsmer in the Sunday event. Ave and Peterson were winners in the Road Atlanta finale, with Kurt Roehrig and Cameron Lawrence winning in TA2.
“What I most remember most about Brainerd is that second race in 2012,” Ave said. “I had tied Mark Donohue and Darin Brassfield for most consecutive victories. I was leading what would have been the record breaker, and I got a flat tire. So the one I lost is the race I remember better than the ones I won.”