Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trans Am returns to BIR

 By Jason D Searcy

The Trans Am road racing series had its "glory days" during a twenty year history of racing at Brainerd International Raceway from 1969-1989. 

The Donnybrooke 3 mile road course at BIR hosted some big purses and big name winners, like Parnelli Jones driving a Mustang for Bud Moore winning $3,300 in the inaugural event in 1969 and Mark Donahue in a AMC Javelin scoring $6,500 for his win in 1971. 

Peter Gregg won $2,560 in a Porsche in 1977 and actor turned road racer Paul Newman won $7,500 racing a Datsun 280ZX Turbo in a 41 car field in 1982.  Irv Hoerr in his Oldsmobile Cutlass edged Dorsey Schroeder in 1989 and won $12,000.

Stock Cars and the NHRA stole the limelight at BIR for the next twenty years until the Trans Am series made its return three years ago.  They now race on the newly paved 2.5 mile 13 turn competition road course.  Only 7 cars raced in that 2010 event with Minnesota born driver Tony Ave driving a Corvette and taking home the top prize of $3,000.  Less money than the winner forty years ago.

The series is building back to what it was with the help of Minnesota businessman, and old school racer Jim Derhaag (in photo above with Dean).  We remember him from his days racing the short tracks of the Midwest, but he also was an accomplished road racer with 151 Trans Am and one NASCAR Winston Cup start on his resume.

Jim's leadership has helped grow the 7 car field in 2010 to 17 cars in 2012.  The addition of the TA2 and TA3 American Muscle cars all racing together with the Trans Am vehicles has made the paddock a much busier place on race day.

This year the Trans Am series was paired with the NASCAR Nationwide series at Mid Ohio and Road America racing in front of huge crowds and turning some heads with these 850 horsepower machines.

Amy Ruman (above photo) won for the third time in her Trans Am career at BIR last year, breaking the streak of four in a row by Tony Ave, she is currently fourth in the point standings.  Defending point champion Simon Gregg, son of Peter Gregg, is now third place in points behind veteran drivers Cliff Ebben from Appleton WI and Doug Peterson from Bonita Springs FL.

This event doesn't get the attention it did back in the "glory days," but it sure seems to be heading in the right direction.  23 cars are on the entry list for the race this weekend.

The driver autograph session is at 12:15pm on Sunday September 1st and the forty lap 100 mile race begins at 4pm.

Speed Talk on 1360 will have full coverage of the race and broadcast interviews from the winners on Saturday September 7th 10-11am on KRWC radio 1360 AM and www.krwc1360.com

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