|2019 Mid-Ohio action|
Some four months since the thunderous roar of American-made Trans Am machinery rattled the ground, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is ready to return to race action in a big way this weekend.
After staging a successful 2020 season-opening weekend at Sebring International Raceway on the last weekend in February, the season went on pause following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, on June 26-28 the fire breathing beasts will awake from their extended slumber for Round 2 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.
With nearly 45 cars and five classes (TA, TA2 powered by AEM, Xtreme GT, Super GT and GT) set to compete in races on Saturday and Sunday at the Northern Ohio circuit, the event will be live streamed worldwide from the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App.
While Trans Am drivers have been keeping busy with the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship during the break in action, Ernie Francis Jr. (No. 98 OneSouthFloridaWealthAdvisors Ford Mustang) is ready to get back to real-world racing, especially at Mid-Ohio. The reigning Trans Am champion holds a six-year win streak, in his respective class, at Mid-Ohio and is coming off a win from the season-opener at Sebring.
“The entire team is excited to get back on the track," said Ernie Francis Jr. "The last two months have been difficult for everyone and we are all glad that society is starting to open back up. I’ve just been sitting here staring at my race car, getting ready to get back behind the wheel again We are delighted that our sponsor One South Florida Wealth Advisors is aboard and is also looking forward to Mid-Ohio."
Even with his stout record of success at the undulating natural terrain circuit, Francis Jr. will have to overcome a deep field of competitors to make a return to victory lane.
Amy Ruman finished on the podium at Sebring in the No. 23 McNichols Co. Chevrolet Corvette, and has been eyeing the Mid-Ohio race date for a long time. Ruman has a lot of history on the technical 2.4-mile, 15-turn course through her career. As an Ohio native, Ruman only lives about an hour away from the track that she calls home, and is determined to do well in front of her hometown crowd that will cheer her on from their couches this season instead of in the stands.
“I’m so happy and excited to finally get back to racing, I know I’m not the only one," Ruman said. “The Sebring race seems so long ago- I feel like we’re starting a whole new TA season. Hopefully we can continue our podium momentum here at my home track Mid-Ohio. My crew took advantage of the off time and made some changes to the No. 23 McNichols/Cornertech Chevrolet Corvette so I’m confident we will have a good car for the upcoming race weekend. Things will definitely be different at the track and I’m extremely disappointed there will be no spectators and a hometown crowd to race in front of, but right now safety is key for all of us. I’m glad the race will be streamed on the new Trans Am Series Racing App and online so people can tune in and watch the race as it happens!"
Mike Skeen, winner of the opening TA2 round at Sebring, will return to racing under the Stevens-Miller Racing banner, looking to defend his points lead in the No. 77 Liqui Moly / Turn 14 Chevrolet Camaro.
“Coming away from the season opener with a victory is always good, but that certainly puts a target on our No. 77 Liqui Moly Turn 14 Distribution Howe Racing Chevrolet Camaro for the rest of the field. The Stevens-Miller Racing guys did everything right for me at Sebring and I expect nothing less at Mid-Ohio. I'd love to keep the momentum going with a solid run. We are pretty much restarting the year, so we need to set the pace for the rest of the championship run!
“Given all the incredible events in our country and around the world, it will be great to get back to racing," Skeen continued. “It will be good to offer the fans at home some great action even if they can't come see us in person just yet. Trans Am’s new live streaming could not have come at a better time for the series or the fans."
Ken Thwaits is third in standings after securing a third-place finish at Sebring in XGT, the newest Trans Am class. Thwaits, who was monumental in launching the XGT class, took advantage of the downtime by taking his No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 GT3 Ultra out west to stay fresh behind the wheel.
"We've been keeping busy and kept the cars ticking over but there's no substitute for competitive action and frankly, I can't wait to get started again," Thwaits said. “We took advantage of an unexpected chance to take the car out to California and compete with some of the best GT3 cars in the country. The GT Celebration was a great opportunity to stay active and jump in the cars out west."
SGT points leader Lee Saunders is on the hunt for his second win of the season, driving the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper in the SGT class, but the podium will be left wide open in the GT class as defending GT champion and current points leader Steven Davison will miss Round 2.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday with a mixed-class test. Friday opens with an official practice with split qualifying sessions in the afternoon for TA/XGT/SGT/GT, followed by a late practice session for the TA2Â® group.
Saturday TA/XGT/SGT/GT opens the day with a 100-mile (or 65 minutes) feature starting at 1:25 p.m. Eastern, followed by a 20-minute TA2Â® qualifying at 5:55 p.m. Eastern. The weekend concludes on Sunday with the TA2Â® 100-mile race (or 65 minutes) at 1:45 p.m. Eastern.
By downloading the app, fans can access exclusive Trans Am content. Fans can watch the live stream of the races, follow their favorite drivers through the field by switching from six different camera angles, access live timing and scoring, keep up with the latest news and download the event program all from the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App (https://bit.ly/3dxc6Lg).