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.

Currently, the races are 100-miles in length with no opportunity for a pit stop to change drivers or tires and refuel the car. Teams can also compete in two championships – Trans Am Championship and Trans Am West Coast Championship.

  • Trans Am Championship – This division opened the season at Sebring International Raceway during the first weekend of March. At the end of the month, teams competed at Road Atlanta. Round three would be at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and include both championships. After the west coast swing teams would travel to Lime Rock Park, the temporary circuit at Detroit’s Belle Isle, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America, Watkins Glen International and Virginia International Raceway. The penultimate weekend at Circuit of the Americas would be the second event with their west coast counterparts and the finale would take place at Daytona International Raceway in November.
  • Trans Am West Coast Championship – The season started in April at Thunderhill Raceway Park and was followed two weeks later with an event at Auto Club Speedway. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hosted rounds for both championships. Then it was on to Sonoma Raceway and the penultimate event at Portland International Raceway. The finale for the west coast competitors would be another joint weekend – it would take place at Circuit of the Americas.

In 2019, there are four classes – Trans Am, Trans Am 2, Super Grand Touring and Grand Touring. Trans Am, Super Grand Touring and Grand Touring compete in the same event. Tran Am 2 drivers have their own race.

  • Trans Am (TA) – This is the series quickest class. These tube-frame race cars are powered by a naturally aspirated pushrod V8 engine which produces over 850-horsepower. From a technological standpoint the vehicles are kept quite simple – no superchargers, turbochargers, anti-lock braking systems or traction control. The body styles used are the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Cadillac CTS-V, Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Challenger.
  • Trans Am 2 (TA2) – These are also tube-frame chassis cars. Unlike the TA category, these vehicles use electronic fuel injection and intake restrictor plates to limit the horsepower to approximately 490. To keep expenses down the maximum price for shock absorbers, wheels and brake pads and calipers are set by the series officials. For example, shock absorbers are limited to a cost of $850 each. This category is also restricted to using a four-speed manual transmission with no overdrive. Teams are also prohibited from using superchargers, turbochargers, anti-lock braking systems or traction control. The most common body style is the Chevrolet Camaro but the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger are also eligible.
  • Super Grand Touring (SGT) – In 2019, TA3 was renamed SGT and includes a large number of production-based vehicles. Unlike TA and TA2, which is restricted to North American models, European manufacturers may also compete in this division. As a result, the list of vehicles eligible for SGT is long and ranges from the BMW M3 to the Dodge Viper. To maintain parity, some cars are fitted with restrictor plates or carry additional weight.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – The newly named Grand Touring was previously called TA4. A wide range of European and American vehicles are also eligible to compete in this group – the list is not as lengthy as the Super Grand Touring category. This is viewed as an entry-level category which only allows limited preparation. To equalize performance some of the cars may carry additional weight or the engine may be fitted with a restrictor place.

Watkins Glen International hosted round-eight of the 2019 season for the Trans Am, Super Grand Touring and Grand Touring teams. Drivers would compete for thirty-laps or seventy-five-minutes, whichever came first, around the eleven-turn 3.337-mile road course.

The second wave of Super Grand Touring (SGT) and Grand Touring (GT) competitors head into Watkins Glen International’s second turn for the first lap of round eight. Leading the field of SGT and GT drivers is the pole-sitter, Aaron Pierce in the Sam Pierce Chevrolet sponsored Chevrolet Corvette. Beside Pierce is Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper driven by veteran sports car racer, Cindi Lux. Lux would be the first SGT retiree.
The reigning Trans Am champion, Ernie Francis, Jr. had a difficult start to the 2019 season. At Sebring, he finished fourteenth and an eighth place at Road Atlanta reduced his chances of securing another title. But it all changed at WeatherTech Raceway when he scored his first victory of the year. Since then Francis, Jr. has finished first or second. At Watkins Glen International, he started on the pole and led every lap.
SGT competitor, Aaron Pierce opened his 2019 season at Road Atlanta where, he started on the pole but finished sixth. He also competed at Indianapolis and Road America but was never a threat for the victory. At Watkins Glen International, Pierce turned his luck around. The driver of the No. 26 Sam Pierce Chevrolet/Logical Systems sponsored Chevrolet Corvette qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag for the class win.
Sports car veteran, Chris Dyson is currently second in the Trans Am title chase. The gap between him and the point’s leader, Ernie Francis, Jr. has grown in the last three races. At the previous round, Road America, Dyson led the most laps but a tenth place finish widened the gap. He started in fourth place, but Dyson was unable to catch Francis, Jr. He took the runner-up spot after a race-long battle with the Camaro of Tomy Drissi.
The round-eight podium for the Super Grand Touring competitors at Watkins Glen International. In the center is the winner, Aaron Pierce. This was the winged sprint car driver’s first Super Grand Touring victory of the season. To Pierce’s right is the runner-up and class point’s leader, Mark Boden from Fall-Line Motorsports. Completing the rostrum is Boden’s Fall-Line Motorsports teammate, Tom Herb.
Mark Boden won the 2017 Tran Am 3 championship and appears to be on his way to securing a second title this year. Boden driving the Fall-Line Motorsports prepared Porsche GT3 Cup has finished on the podium in every round except WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which he did not enter and Road America where he finished fourth. At Watkins Glen, Boden could not match the pace of Aaron Pierce and finished second.
The more powerful Trans Am group raced with the Super Grand Touring and Grand Touring competitors in round eight and received the Starter’s flag first. On the opening lap, the first to arrive at Watkins Glen International’s corner two was the point’s leader and pole-sitter, Ernie Francis, Jr. Behind Francis, Jr. is the second-fastest qualifier, Boris Said. Said in the Technique/SRI Performance Dodge Challenger retired after just three laps.
Sitting third in the Super Grand Touring standings is the point’s leader teammate, Tom Herb. Herb is just eighteen-points behind Ford Mustang competitor, Brian Kleeman and closing fast. Racing the No. 16 Porsche GT3 Cup, he has outperformed Kleeman in the last three events. At Watkins Glen International, Herb would narrow the gap even more by finishing in third two positions ahead of Kleeman.
The 2009 Trans Am champion and the winner last year at Watkins Glen International, Tomy Drissi missed the previous three rounds due to a medical issue. As a result, he fell from second in the standings to eighth place. Back in the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro, Drissi proved that in his absence, he hadn’t lost any of his speed. He was gridded fourth for the start of the thirty-lap event and was in third place at the checkered flag.
The round eight Trans Am podium at Watkins Glen International. On the left from Dyson Racing is the runner-up, Chris Dyson who is currently second in the standings. The third-place finisher and defending race winner, Tomy Drissi stands on the right side of the rostrum. Between these two is the winner for the fourth time this season, Ernie Francis, Jr. This victory padded the reigning champion’s point lead.

11TAErnie Francis JrFrameless Shower Doors / Ford Mustang30
23TAChris DysonThetford/Norcold / Ford Mustang30
34TA Tomy DrissiLucas Oil / Chevrolet Camaro30
46TAVincent AllegrettaTA Sights and Sounds / Chevrolet Corvette30
55TAPaul FixAve Motorsports / Ford Mustang30
69TAJohn BaucomBaucom Motorspots / Ford Mustang30
710TA Richard GrantGrant Racing / Chevrolet Corvette29
88TAKerry HittAdvanced Composite Products Inc / Cadillac CTS28
92TABoris SaidSRI Performance / Dodge Challenger3
1011TAAdam AndrettiAnchor Bolt / Chevrolet Corvette2
117TAAmy RumanMcNichols Co. / Chevrolet Corvette2
11SGTAaron PierceSam Pierce Chev / Chevrolet Corvette30
25SGTMark BodenBeverage Flavors / Porsche 991 GT3 Cup30
36SGTTom HerbFall-Line Motorsports / Porsche 991 GT3 Cup30
43SGTAdrian Wlostowsk F.A.S.T. Auto / Ford Mustang30
54SGTBrian KleemanForgeline / Ford Mustang30
69SGTMilton GrantSentry Self Storage/Fairfield Inn Porsche / 991.3 GT3 Cup29
78SGTChris OutzenForgeline / Ford Mustang29
810SGTTim KezmanLemons of Love / Porsche 991 GT3 Cup29
97SGTDirk LeuenbergerLux Performance / Dodge Viper12
102SGTCindi LuxLux Performance / Dodge Viper3
11GT Steven Davison Davinci Plastic Surgery / Aston Martin Vantage29

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