Where It All Began: Trans-Am Racing Returns To Sebring

Amie Williams
·3 mins read

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The Trans-Am Racing Series returned to Sebring International Raceway for the 15th time since 1966.

On the weekend of February 28th through March 1st, Trans-Am Racing presented by Pirelli returned again for the 15th time since it all started back in 1966, and it headlined the SVRA Sebring Vintage Classic. Sebring International Raceway located in Sebring, Florida, features 17 turns in 3.74 miles.

The year was 1966. Engines roared to life for the big debut of the Trans-Am Series Racing event held at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Detroit's big three came out to play in this new series as they competed for the Governor's Cup in the inaugural Trans American Sedan Championship race sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America.

A.J. Foyt, winner of the Indianapolis 500 times two, was piloting a Ford Mustang, and he had a 13-lap lead on the entire field before coming in for a much-needed pit stop. Jochen Rindt, the 1970 winner of Formula One, was behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo. The four-hour event that included Dodge Darts, Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Corvairs, and Plymouth Barracudas all had no shortage of issues when it came to brake issues, tire problems, and of course, overheating.

The larger class victory was nabbed by the Dodge Dart that was driven by Bob Tillius who finished second overall in the event. In the two-liter class, the Alfas dominated with Rindt taking the overall win, a sweet victory considering he suffered a rollover crash while practicing in the pre-event.

Held one day before the 12 Hours of Sebring event, the race attracted 40 cars. In 1967, Trans Am Racing returned as the Four-Hour International, and this time around there were 61 entrants. This time, a Porsche driven by Peter Gregg and Sam Posey took home the win in the two-liter category. A Ford Mustang won the entire event with Jerry Titus behind the wheel that surpassed Mark Donahue's Camaro Z/28.

The next year in 1968, Trans Am racing returned again, and this time Mark Donahue and Craig Fisher grabbed third place overall. The 12 Hours of Sebring ran concurrently with the Trans Am Series in '68. Joe Welch and Bob Johnson in their Camaro followed behind.

Due to the races being shorter, the Trans AM series wouldn't return again until 1999. This time around, the season finale had its own weekend. A Ford Mustang piloted by Paul Gentilozzi was the overall championship winner.

Over the next couple of years, the Trans Am series returned yet again but would share with the 12 Hours race. Brian Simo won the 2000 opening race in a Qvale Mangusta. Boris Said took home the win in 2001 behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang.

The Trans Am Series has been an important element to the SVRA Sebring Vintage Classic since 2013, and the race is held two weekends before the 12 Hours event presented by Mobil 1. In the 2013 and 2014 season opening races, Doug Peterson drove his Corvette to victory for the number one spot. A Camaro driven by Cameron Lawrence took home three consecutive wins. Both drivers were present during the 2020 Trans Am race and represented the Peterson Racing name. Amy Ruman became the first female champion in 2015.

For 2020, Brian Simo took top honors again in his Qvale Mangusta. Following behind was Chris Neville in a Ford Mustang Cobra with a Jaguar XKR piloted by Jeff Altenburg after that, according to Motorsport.com.

Source: Speed Sport

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