Trans Am Returns To Mid Ohio

June 6, 2012

Trans Am Returns To Mid Ohio
With a 25 race history dating  back to 1967, the Trans Am Series returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, June 8-10.  
Defending Trans Am Champion and driver of the No. 4 Lamers Motor Racing Corvette, Tony Ave, has competed in three Mid-Ohio Trans Am races. In 2009 Tony won the pole and led the first twenty laps before retiring with mechanical problems. Ave enters this weekend winless on the season. Having been the pole sitter at Mid-Ohio in 2009, Tony knows how important it is to qualify up front.
"I've won a lot of races at Mid Ohio over the years," noted Ave.  "I really like the circuit.  It's tough track to pass on so qualifying is important, and it's equally tough on the driver and the car. We need to get some momentum going… Mid-Ohio is the perfect place to do that."
History would prove Ave right, as 11 of 24 Trans Am race winners have won from the pole. 
Fresh of his victory at Lime Rock Park, Simon Gregg is counting on his 2009 third place finish as a stepping stone to a Mid-Ohio victory.
"This is such a great track," said Simon. "Last week's victory was a great confidence booster, not only for me, but for everyone on the Derhaag team. It showed that we have what it takes to win. Mid-Ohio is a good fit for us and for Trans Am racing, so I'm looking forward to a great race."
Currently sitting third place in the Trans Am points standings, No. 23 McNichols Corvette driver, Amy Ruman, spent last week competing in an SCCA event at Mid-Ohio. Though the car suffered a little crash damage, Amy vows to be ready for round 3 of the Trans Am Championship .
“It was a good weekend overall for us and it was encouraging to have the speed that we did with the new Corvette,” said Ruman. “It was a great way to get ready for Trans Am. It was really disappointing to be taken out as we were having a great battle with Doug (Peterson, fellow Trans Am competitor). The crew is working hard to make the repairs and we will be ready to go this weekend!”
This will be the first appearance at Mid Ohio for the new Trans Am 2 division. The first two TA2 wins in 2012 have gone to Camaros. Pete Halsmer driving the No. 12 CTEK Charger Camaro won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Bob Stretch, driving the No. 98 Fix Rim Camaro won at Lime Rock Park.  
Stretch anticipates a classic Trans Am battle worthy of Mid-Ohio's history with the Series.
"Yeah… it's going to be a slugfest," acknowledge Stretch. "There's going to be some great racing taking  place there. Fans can expect epic battles through a difficult and technical course. Given Mid Ohio's long history with both SCCA and Trans Am, it's the perfect place for the third round of Trans Am."
Stretch's nemesis in the TA2 division is Pete Halsmer. Halsmer is no stranger to the Mid Ohio course. Halsmer contested the 1986 and 1987 Mid-Ohio Trans Am races in Roush Racing Mercury Merkurs.  He started fourth in 1986 but wrecked after one lap.  In 1987 he started second and led laps three through 22. The car suffered engine failure after 38 laps.
"I have a lot of fond memories from Mid-Ohio," Pete recalled. "I remember dreaming of racing there when I first started racing SCCA Formula Vee back in l970. I've always felt it was one of the more challenging tracks in the US, as well as one of the nicest kept and best viewing tracks for fans. I'm hoping the Camaros can continue to perform as well there as they have in the first two races… it's hard to ask for much more. I'm really looking forward to it."  
Pete might get his wish. While the overall Mid-Ohio Trans-Am badge battle shows Ford Mustang leading with seven wins, the record books reflect six for the Chevrolet Camaro.  By marque, Chevrolet leads with eight trips to victory circle (Camaro six, Corvette two) to seven for Ford (all Mustang).
Making their first appearances of 2012 are Trans Am drivers Denny Lamers and Gregg Rodgers. Lamers will pilot his No. 66 McMahon Group Ford Mustang. Rodgers returns in the No. 33 Pinnacle Camaro
In addition, the Series will see four new competitors make their Trans Am debut at Mid-Ohio. Jan Heylen will drive the No. 7 Dodge Challenger,  Chuck Cassaro driving the No. 76 Cassaro Enterprises Panoz GT, John Atwell in the No. 02 Pinnacle Camaro and Joe Sturm in the No. 14 McMahon Group Monte Carlo
The Trans Am cars will take to the track at 8:00AM Friday for their first official practice then again at 1:05PM. Qualifying will take place Saturday at 9:20AM. The 100 mile feature will take the green flag Sunday at 1:45PM. Video updates will be available though out the weekend at and the half-hour race recap will air on MAVTV, Sunday, July 1 at 6:00PM EST.
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