The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) introduced the Trans Am series in 1966. The championship was created during the introduction of Detroit’s ‘American Pony Car’ period. The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro proved to be very popular with consumers and the best way for manufacturers to demonstrate their potential was ‘To race on Sunday and sell on Monday.’

In 1966, vehicle classification and rules were based on the SCCA’s A and B Sedan amateur classes. A Sedan was called the Over 2.0-Liter category. The cars competing in the group were limited to a 5.0-liter engine and provided a platform to showcase the new ‘Pony Cars.’ The Under 2.0-Liter category included vehicles from BMW, Alfa Romero, British Leyland and Porsche.

The Trans Am series and its regulations have evolved over time. The championship has undergone changes to the race formats, vehicle eligibility and rules governing the cars.

In 1997, the Sports Car Club of America celebrated the thirty-second year of the Trans Am Championship. The season began with the series 341st race.

Trans Am rules require that vehicles be constructed with a purpose-built tube frame chassis. The top chassis builders include Riley & Scott, Roush, Weaver, Selix-Weaver, Hoerr, Rocketsports and Pratt & Miller Engineering. The bodies are made of composites, such as carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass. The rules stipulate that the cars should maintain the recognizable external features of the manufacturer's model while providing flares necessary to keep the tires inside the bodywork. SCCA Pro Racing uses body templates to ensure the shape of cars is within designated tolerances. Cars are required to use the stock windshield or an approved alternative, which has to be mounted in the original location and at the original angle. The rules also dictate the use of the stock taillights, which are often the only production parts on the vehicles. The popular models are the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang; however, other vehicles eligible for the series include the Chevrolet Corvette, Pontiac Grand Prix and Oldsmobile Cutlass. Car styles cannot be more than five years old. All cars are required to use an American-based engine. The rules allow a 358 cubic inch 9:1 V8 engine with a car weight of 2700-lbs or a 355 cubic inch tipping the scales at 2775-lbs. Another option is a V6 with a 275 cubic inch engine weighing 2500-lbs. But the most popular choice is a 311 cubic inch motor. All options must be fitted with a 4150 Holley carburetor.

The thirteen race season began in February at St. Petersburg. Next, teams travel to the west coast to compete at Phoenix. Upon returning to the east, the championship stops at Lime Rock Park, Detroit and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. On the calendar next is a string of events conducted on temporary circuits at Minnesota, Cleveland, Ohio and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. In August, the championship visits Watkins Glen International and Road America. Then teams head north of the border for an event at Mosport Park. The penultimate weekend of the series is held in Pikes Peak, with the finale taking place on October 19th in Reno, Nevada.

In 1996, the Sports Car Club of America introduced the Goodyear Fast Five Qualifying procedure. The five fastest qualifiers are inverted for the start. This led to a number of different qualifying strategies – some teams decided to run slower for a better starting position while others tried to be the quickest and earn the bonus points.

Mosport was the eleventh round of the 1997 Trans Am series. It was also the series’ twentieth visit to track. Drivers would compete in a forty-lap event around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.

The track was wet for the start but dried quickly, forcing most competitors to stop for a change of tires.

Twenty-two competitors prepare to enter the front straight for round eleven of the 1997 Trans Am series event at Mosport Park. On the pole is the No. 51 Chevrolet Camaro of the fifth-fastest qualifier, Alessandro Zampedri. Starting alongside Zampedri is Brian Simo in the No. 22 Valvoline Ford Mustang Cobra. Row two is occupied by the 1989 champion Dorsey Schroeder and Paul Gentilozzi.
Tom Kendall celebrates after winning his eleventh consecutive Trans Am race of the 1997 season. Kendall, driving the No. 11 All Sport Body Quencher sponsored Ford Mustang Cobra, was the fastest qualifier, recorded the fastest race lap and led the most laps on the way to his twenty-sixth career Trans-Am victory. He was also awarded the ‘DynoMax Turn On the Power’ award for the drive of the race.
Finishing 1.373-seconds behind the winner, Tom Kendall, was the 1989 Trans Am series champion, Dorsey Schroeder. To date, Schroeder’s 1997 record included six podium results, of which four were runner-up finishes. During qualifying, he was just 0.389-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Kendall, which was good for a third-place starting position. Schroeder was in second by lap-15 but was no match for Kendall.
Jon Gooding drove the No. 16 Mountain Dew Ford Mustang Cobra. Entering round eleven at Mosport Park, he had racked up three-podium results. During the qualifying session, Gooding was sixth-fastest and started beside his teammate, Tom Kendall. The retirements of Rocketsports’ drivers, Paul Gentilozzi and Alessandro Zampedri, coupled with a quick tire change, allowed Gooding to finish third.
Italian Alessandro Zampedri has extensive open-wheel experience. Zampedri was running fourth at the 1996 Indianapolis 500 when he was involved in a serious accident. In 1997, he joined Paul Gentilozzi’s Rocketsports effort for three Trans Am races. At Mosport, he qualified fifth-fastest and started on the pole in the No. 51 Chevrolet Camaro. Unfortunately, Zampedri slid wide at corner eight on lap-23 and retired.
Although the championship was decided in favour of Tom Kendall, there was an opportunity for several competitors to finish second in the final standings. One such competitor was Brian Simo, who is currently second in points. Driving the No. 22 Valvoline sponsored Ford Mustang Cobra, he qualified fourth. Simo ran as high as second in the race, but a series of errors during his pit stop for tires resulted in fourth place.
Johnny Miller IV was last season’s Sports Car Club of America’s Pro Racing Rookie of the Year. This season he was campaigning the No. 64 PLC Direct Chevrolet Camaro and scored a season-best finish of fifth-place in the previous round at Road America. At Mosport, Miller was gridded in the ninth spot for the forty-lap contest. He would cross the finish line in sixth and be the highest placed non Ford Mustang Cobra.
The only Pontiac entered at Mosport Park was the No. 66 Banner Engineering sponsored Grand Prix of Leighton Reese. During the qualifying session, Reese was tenth fast. Like most of those in the field, he benefitted from the problems experienced by the Rocketsports teammates Paul Gentilozzi and Alessandro Zampedri to move up the race order. At the checkered flag, Reese was in the eighth position.

15Tom KendallFord Mustang Cobra40-
23Dorsey SchroederFord Mustang Cobra40-
36Jon GoodingFord Mustang Cobra40-
42Brian SimoFord Mustang Cobra39-
57Mike BorkowskiFord Mustang Cobra39-
69John W. Miller IVChevrolet Camaro39-
713Bruce NesbittFord Mustang Cobra39-
810Leighton ReesePontiac Grand Prix38-
98Max LagodChevrolet Camaro38-
1012Don SakOldsmobile Cutlass38-
1111Don MeluzioChevrolet Camaro37-
1214Craig ShaferChevrolet Camaro37-
1317John HalbingOldsmobile Cutlass36-
1419Ed HinchliffFord Mustang Cobra35-
1521Chet WilliamsChevrolet Camaro35-
1618Frank Cioppettini Jr.Chevrolet Camaro34-
1715Bob RumanChevrolet Camaro32-
184Paul GentilozziChevrolet Camaro26Mechanical
191Alessandro ZampedriChevrolet Camaro23Accident
2022Jerry SimmonsChevrolet Camaro15Mechanical
2120Jim BriodyChevrolet Camaro9Mechanical
2216Ray GenickChevrolet Camaro2Electrical

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