TRANS AM 101
Trans Am/SCCA Crossover Initiative Introduces Road Racers to Trans Am Racing
Through the decades, racers like Scott Pruett, Tommy Kendall and Greg Picket have been synonymous with Trans Am competition. But with the launch of the Pro/Am Challenge in 2021, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli introduced a new path to professional road racing that could see a new generation of racers adding their names to Trans Am's roster of all-time greats.
Partnering with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), Trans Am launched a crossover program called the Trans Am Pro/Am Challenge, which introduces SCCA drivers looking to take their next step to the North American stage of Trans Am.
Creating a path for teams to crossover to Trans Am is the primary objective of the new Pro/Am Challenge, with the schedule and rules package providing flexibility for teams and drivers to chase both their Pro/Am Challenge and their SCCA Road Racing goals at the same time.
"We have been working with SCCA for some time now to foster a program that would be an exciting crossover opportunity for a lot of racers," said Trans Am Race Company President John Clagett. "Since the beginning of Trans Am, countless drivers have crossed back and forth between SCCA and Trans Am to make up their annual race schedule. Even today, many Trans Am regulars are also seen in the paddock at SCCA events. Some teams run more, or fewer, Trans Am races depending on if they decide to pursue the SCCA National Runoffs Championship or the Trans Am Championship for that year. Now with the Pro/Am Challenge, teams and drivers can do both."
Any driver planning to compete in the Runoffs will be allowed to use two Trans Am races as part of their Runoffs prerequisites, which is yet another attractive aspect of the SCCA/Trans Am crossover package.
"Trans Am is a significant part of the SCCA’s rich motorsports history and the partnership between Parella Motorsports Holdings, SCCA Pro Racing and Trans Am Race Company has fueled much growth in that brand across the past several years," said SCCA President Mike Cobb. "Many Trans Am drivers compete in SCCA Road Racing events as well, so the ‘Pro Path’ to the Runoffs is a natural, giving drivers more options to race while earning the opportunity to compete in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs."
The new Trans Am Pro/Am Cup Challenge allows SCCA drivers to compete in Trans Am using the same basic SCCA road racing trim for their cars, making the transition back and forth between the SCCA Road Racing program and Trans Am seamless.
The Pro/Am Challenge is open to all five Trans Am classes. The primary SCCA classes that fit into one of the Trans Am classes are; GT1, GT2, GTX, T1, T2, T3 and STO. The various cars are divided into the correct Trans Am class with minor weight and restrictor changes. Equivalent cars from other amateur clubs will also be welcomed to race with Trans Am. All cars are fueled by Sunoco and utilize Pirelli tires.
In an attempt to make the crossover to Trans Am even easier, entry fees are reduced for Pro/Am Challenge competitors.
"We anticipate this to be another long-term growth program for Trans Am to develop drivers from the grassroots level," Clagett said. "It’s a really great opportunity for racers who might not have thought about Trans Am before."
Several drivers throughout history have transitioned from SCCA club racers to Trans Am stardom. One of the most notable crossover drivers was SCCA Hall of Fame driver Paul Newman, who won four SCCA national titles, became a SCCA championship car owner and recipient of the President’s Cup, SCCA’s top honor. Newman then went on to win multiple Trans Am races, in addition to racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona and taking second (first in his class) at Le Mans.
Mark Donohue, two-time champion during Trans Am’s "Glory Years," won the 1961 SCCA National title before moving to professional competition.
Other remarkable drivers who competed in SCCA competition before moving up to the Trans Am ranks were Scott Sharp (three-time National champion with two Trans Am titles), Dorsey Schroeder (1989 Trans Am champion), and Tony Ave (Multiple SCCA National championships, 2010-2011 Trans Am titles), among others.