Last year, Mid-Ohio saw Paul Fix, now driver of the No. 50 StopFlex.com/ TheCarCoach.com/ Chevron Techron Chevrolet Corvette, and Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, emerge victorious in two equally eventful showings. Likewise, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 BetaTools/Liquid Performance Ford Mustang, was victorious in TA4, and Michael Camus, in the No. 08 Epic Motorsports/MCM Holdings BMW M3, secured a win in TA3.
This year, many of the same faces return looking to repeat their feat from one year ago, with both Robinson and Fix riding high with the momentum of victories last round at Brainerd International Raceway with them. Now both will take to the Mid-Ohio weekend with the same goal—securing another valued win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and adding to their own 2016 championship credentials.
Facing off with Fix in the TA class will be hometown hero, defending Champion Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette. Together Fix and Ruman have combined to win all but one of the five TA races thus far in 2016— with Ruman taking Rounds 2 and 3, and Fix Rounds 4 and 5. Ruman currently leads the class point standings with 137 while Fix holds fourth place with 102.
And while Ruman has logged a victory at nearly every course on the Trans Am circuit throughout her career, a victory at her home track continues to elude her. Now Ruman will make another attempt at the coveted top step for the TA class and return to her winning ways.
Also chasing a TA class victory this weekend will be 2013 victor Cliff Ebben, driver of the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group/ Lamers Ford Mustang, and Ohio native David Pintaric, driver of the No. 57 Kryderacing Cadillac CTS-V, who currently sit second and third, respectively, in the championship points. In total the TA class entry will feature 16 cars, including the talents of Vincent Allegretta, John Baucom, Claudio Burtin, Joseph Freda, Milton Grant, Simon Gregg, Kerry Hitt, Jim McAleese and Todd Peterson.
The TA class will race alongside the TA3 and TA4 classes in a multi-class format race, with TA3 beginning its championship anew after having the TA5 class merged into it following Round 5. TA3 will feature eight drivers in total, with 2015 champion Lee Saunders, in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper ACRX, facing off against a mixture of American Muscle and European Engineering with Randy Kinsland and Mel Shaw joining Saunders in the American contingent with Corvettes and Boden, Flynn, Grant and Kezman all sporting Porsche 997s. Also entered are Spring Champion Randy Mueller, in the No. 00 BizBloom/ Epic Motorsports BMW M3, and Camus, last year’s class victor at Mid-Ohio.
In TA4, two-time defending Champion Ernie Francis, Jr., will look to add yet another victory to his tally for 2016 but will be joined in that pursuit by an additional five competitors. Key amongst them will be Brian Kleeman, driver of the No. 07 DWW Motorsports Ford Mustang, who currently sits second in the championship points and is the only true challenger to what would be a third championship for Francis. Also competing in the TA4 class will be Tristan Herbert, Rich Jones, Todd Napieralski, and Spencer Caudle.
Robinson will have his hands full in the Pura Vida Tequila Muscle Car 100 Presented by ETE Reman Transmissions, with 24 additional TA2 competitors set to take the green flag. Key amongst them will once again be Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who currently join him atop the TA2 points standings. The three drivers have all been to the top step of the podium so far in 2016 and are all expected to vie for the podium at Mid-Ohio.
Last year’s TA2 race at Mid-Ohio stood as one of the highlights of the year; and with all top five finishers from 2015, Robinson, Shane Lewis, Adam Andretti, Machavern and Buffomante in attendance, fans can expect a similar result. Also highlighting the field will be Tommy Archer, Louis-Philippe Montour, Justin Haley, Keith Prociuk, Lawrence Loshak, Tommy Archer and Jorden Bernloehr, all currently competing for year-end championship honors.
A new addition to the TA2 field is Tonis Kasemets, in the No. 03 Newman Wachs Racing Ford Mustang, marking his, and Newman Wachs, debut in the TA2 class.
Last year Robinson’s victory, the first of his career, stood as a launching point to his eventual Championship—if he can replicate that success at one of the jewels of the Trans Am circuit, he takes yet another step towards potentially completing his title defense. But as many drivers learned at Mid-Ohio last year, anything can happen.
Trans Am will be taking to the track at Mid-Ohio alongside the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Mid-Ohio Challenge and the Formula Four United States Championship in a weekend-long showcase of road racing at one of Trans Am’s historic homes.
Fans can keep up with all the action throughout the First Energy Trans Am weekend, the First Energy Trans Am 100 and the Pura Vida Tequila Muscle Car 100 Presented by ETE Reman Transmissions at www.gotransam.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com and on Twitter at @gotransam.
First Energy Trans Am Weekend Schedule
Thursday, August 11
2:45 – 3:05 PM TA2 Practice 1
3:10 – 3:30 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 1
Friday, August 12
10:35 – 10:50 AM TA2 “Fast Five" Qualifying
10:50 – 11:05 AM TA “Fast Five" Qualifying
11:05 – 11:20 AM TA3/TA4 “Fast Five"
4:10 – 4:30 PM TA2 Practice 2
4:30 – 4:50 PM TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 2
4:55 – 5:10 PM 2nd Chance to Qualify
Saturday, August 13
9:30 – 10:45 AM First Energy Trans Am 100
12:45 – 2:00 PM Pura Vida Tequila Muscle Car 100 Presented by ETE Reman Transmissions
*All times Eastern