2000 Las Vegas - Trans Am

2000 marked the 35th season for the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am Series. The rights to the series was acquired by Ralph Sanchez and Don Panoz. BFGoodrich tires was the title sponsor. The twelve race season opened at Sebring, Florida in March and ended in November at San Diego, California.

There were a number of technical changes for 2000. The most obvious was the introduction of a spec rear wing. The spec wing was introduced as a means of equalizing the downforce of the cars while maintaining a more production-based appearance. It was felt that the use of a rear spoiler distorted the car’s original lines.

Along with the new look, there was a return to multi-valve cylinder heads and fuel injection – the first time since 1990. The multi-valve configuration (4-valves per cylinder only) was permitted on 275-cubic inch V8 engines and fuel injection was only allowed on 311-cubic inch V8 and the 275-cubic inch motors.

There was also new eligibility for a broad range of auto manufacturers and models. As a result the grids which were traditionally filled with Ford and Chevrolet products now included the Jaguar XKR, Qvale Mangusta and the Oldsmobile Aurora.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway would host round-eleven of the 2000 Trans Am Series. The race was scheduled to be 40-laps around the 2.52-miles 'Roval' layout.

The Trans Am race at Las Vegas was the last event on a very busy schedule. On lap-28, the race was black flagged for 15-minutes to allow teams to change to rain tires. Towards the end of the wet race, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway staff turned the lights on and with the event being impacted by live TV the organizers shortened the race to 33-laps.
Juan LeRoux from the Dominican Republic made two Trans Am starts in 2000. In his appearances at Las Vegas and the season finale at San Diego, the Ford Mustang driver finished fifteenth.
During the 2000 season, Leighton Reese scored his first career Trans Am victory at Texas Motor Speedway. At Las Vegas he moved up from his thirteenth starting position to finish tenth. He had several top-ten finishes throughout the year which contributed to his fourth place finish in the Driver's Championship.
New Zealander Craig Baird made his first Trans Am start at Houston in the Alan Ferguson Chevrolet Camaro and finished a disappointing twentieth. Before his debut in America, Baird had won many open and closed championships in his native New Zealand. At Las Vegas he qualified tenth but was able to secure a second place finish.
It was a tough weekend for Trans Am point’s leader Paul Gentilozzi. He only qualified ninth and during the race he suffered severe front-end damage after hitting the wall. This accounted for his thirtieth place finish and as a result, he did not score any points. Gentilozzi entered the final round at San Diego with a 16-point lead over Brian Simo.
Making a return to Trans Am competition was Willy T. Ribbs who was one of the series top drivers in the mid-1980s. While not as successful as his previous foray in the series Ribbs, still managed to capture eighth in the final standings and score two podium finishes (Long Beach and Detroit).
Camaro driver Kerry Alexander also had a difficult weekend. The former SCCA American Sedan and Touring 1 National Champion had a crash during the challenging race which led to his retirement on lap-18. He finished thirty-second.
Boris Said driving the ACS entered Ford Mustang won round eleven of the Trans Am series at Las Vegas. This was his first Trans Am victory since Road America in 1995. Said also won the Simple Green Clean Sweep Award for capturing the pole, leading the most laps, having the fastest race lap and taking the victory. Said also became the seventh winner of the season.
Laguna Seca winner Kenny Wilden started second but early in the race spun, however, he was able to work his way back to second. After the change to rain tires Wilden found himself battling with the Camaro of Ken Murillo. The two made contact which sent Wilden off track and caused enough damage that he was forced to retire - classified as a DNF.
Jack Willes, an early season contender for 'Rookie of the Year' honours, missed the Laguna Seca round when TWC Motorsports, the team he drove for during three-quarters of the season, decided not to enter the event. At Las Vegas he replaced Epic Racing’s Team Manager, Gary Johnson, in the No. 9 Mustang and rewarded the team’s decision with a podium finish.
A controversial win at Houston was awarded to the No. 84 Sonen Motorsports Mustang driver Chris Neville after Paul Gentilozzi was assessed a 25-second penalty for a rules violation. During a pit stop to replace a flat tire series officials said that the Gentilozzi team exceeded the number of crew members permitted over the pit wall. At Las Vegas Neville started seventh but finished twentieth.
Qualifying behind pole-sitter Boris Said and previous round winner, Kenny Wilden, was Brian Simo. Simo took the lead on lap-18 but later spun out of the top spot. After making the mandatory stop for rain tires, he lost his left front wheel when exiting the pits. These factors contributed to Simo finishing fourteenth. Simo would have better luck at San Diego and win the series title.

11Boris Said IIIFord Mustang Cobra32-
210Craig BairdChevrolet Camaro32-
320Jack WillesFord Mustang Cobra32-
46Willy T. RibbsChevrolet Camaro32-
512Jeff AltenburgJaguar XKR32-
619G.J. MennenChevrolet Camaro32-
74Stu HaynerChevrolet Camaro32-
811Tomy DrissiFord Mustang Cobra32-
916Michael LewisFord Mustang Cobra32-
1013Leighton ReesePontiac Grand Prix32-
1130Don SakChevrolet Camaro32-
1225Grant SylvesterFord Mustang Cobra32-
1318Steve PelkeFord Mustang Cobra32-
143Brian SimoQvale Mangusta32-
1528Juan LeRouxFord Mustang Cobra31-
1617Bob RumanChevrolet Corvette31-
1722Simon GreggChevrolet Camaro31-
1829Jerry KinnChevrolet Corvette31-
1915Ken MurilloChevrolet Camaro30-
207Chris NevilleFord Mustang Cobra30-
2133Jim BriodyChevrolet Camaro30-
2224Tom MillerFord Mustang Cobra30-
2327Peter SheaFord Mustang Cobra30-
242Kenny WildenChevrolet Camaro29Mechanical
2535Kevin NeilsonChevrolet Camaro29-
2634Dick GreerChevrolet Corvette28-
2714Randy RuhlmanOldsmobile Aurora27-
2823James HoltomChevrolet Corvette26Mechanical
2921Mike DavisFord Mustang Cobra23Mechanical
309Paul GentilozziJaguar XKR20Mechanical
315Johnny MillerChevolet Corvette19Mechanical
3226Kerry AlexanderChevrolet Camaro18Accident
3332Jerry SimmonsChevrolet Camaro15Mechanical
348Lou GigliottiChevrolet Corvette10Differential
3531Claudio BurtinFord Mustang Cobra7Mechanical
3637Jim MaguireChevrolet Camaro0DNS
3738Bruce QvaleQvale Mangusta0DNS
3836Moneca KolvynChevrolet Camaro0DNS

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