Friday, November 17, 2017

New Trans Am era at Brainerd International Raceway ends

By Jason D Searcy

The Trans Am road racing series has made the decision to not be returning to Brainerd (MN) International Raceway this year.  Here is the 2018 schedule Trans Am 2018

Here is a portion of the press release with quotes from Trans Am president John Clagett;  "the 2018 schedule was crafted to reduce the time teams spend on the road,” continued Clagett.  “We’ve reduced the number of events by two based on competitor feedback, but we’ve also focused on how we cut back the time commitment for each weekend.  Our goal is a three-day event wherever possible, including load-in and test day.  Over the course of the season, it should save teams over two weeks at the track in comparison to 2017.” 

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.

Brainerd International Raceway was an integral part of the resurrection of the historic Trans Am series that had dwindled down and finally ceased operations in 2005.  Jason Searcy and Dean Reller with Speed Talk on 1360 covered every Trans Am race at BIR from 2010-2017.   Included in the Race Stories are photos and audio interviews, here is recap:

In 2010 Brainerd International Raceway helped revive the series, they reconfigured a 2.5 mile competition road course and held a race on the Sunday just before Labor Day.  Only 7 cars were entered, Minnesota born racer Tony Ave (photo below with Jason) won the race by almost a full lap over Tomy Drissi and Legendary Minnesota driver Jim Derhaag raced for the 151st and final time of his career finishing 5th.

2010 Trans Am at BIR Race Story 
2010 TA results

In 2011, to help the series, BIR had a double header of races over Labor Day weekend.  Tony Ave won both races, Cliff Ebben finished second on Sunday (after wrecking his primary car the day before, photo below) and Dan Ramoutarsingh was runner-up on Saturday.  Only 12 cars raced.

2011 Trans Am Race Story
2011 TA Results Day 1
2011 TA Results Day 2

In 2012 the field increased to 17 cars and Tony Ave won his fourth consecutive race at BIR on Saturday and then Amy Ruman (photo below) won her first race at Brainerd International Raceway.

2012 Trans Am Race Story
2012 TA Results Day 1
2012 TA Results Day 2

In 2013 the race field increased to 22 and it was a thrilling race to the finish as the top four cars crossed the finish line just 1.356 seconds apart.  Doug Peterson won the race and Tony Ave was second.  Cameron Lawrence won the TA2 event.

2013 Trans Am race story
2013 TA Results

In 2014 Doug Peterson wins TA again with Amy Ruman second and Cliff Ebben third.  Ron Keith won the TA2 race with Tommy Kendall and Adam Andretti joining him on the victory podium. (below)

2014 Trans Am Race Story

In 2015 the race was moved off it's traditional Labor Day weekend to the Independence Day weekend.  Amy Ruman won the TA race over Doug Peterson and Dillon Machavern was the TA2 winner.  The car count went up to 39 with the addition of TA3 and TA4 cars.

2015 Trans Am Race Story

In 2016 Paul Fix (photo below) won the TA race when Cliff Ebben again had bad luck, he experienced mechanical problems on the last lap while leading the race.

2016 TA Race Story at BIR

Gar Robinson and his team (photo below) won a wild TA2 race, which was now run separately from the TA race.  Veteran Tommy Archer, who was fighting back cancer, finished second.

2016 BIR TA2 Race Story

Brainerd International Raceway made a sizeable investment in the facility before the 2017 race by adding curbing, a new paddock area, building a new three story scoring tower and expanding the tunnel by adding an extra lane for race control.

In what would be the final weekend of Trans Am racing in this new era Cameron Lawrence won the TA race and was very emotional in Victory Lane because his racing mentor Mel Shaw died earlier in the day.  We had a heart touching interview with Lawrence after the race.  Ernie Francis Jr led many laps but finished third of the 17 cars entered in the TA race.

2017 TA Race Story at BIR

Tony Buffomante won the final TA2 race at Brainerd, 12 cars entered the TA2 Race.

2017 TA2 Race Story at BIR

Brainerd International Raceway has not announced what will replace the Trans Am series on the race schedule for 2018 but they are looking into their options.  BIR is a wonderful road racing facility and has had incredible success with the BIR Performance Driving Schools and the Street Smarts Advanced Defensive Driving Course for Teens get more information HERE

When events at BIR are announced it will be posted HERE.  2018 BIR Schedule

I hope you enjoyed our coverage of Trans Am at BIR, we want to thank Gary, Jed and everyone at Brainerd International Raceway for their hospitality, they were nothing short of professional at every turn.  The drivers and staff at Trans Am were wonderful to work with and cover.

Results (winner and 2nd place)

2010 Tony Ave, Tomy Drissi
2011 Tony Ave, Dan Ramoutarsingh
         Tony Ave, Cliff Ebben
2012 Tony Ave, Doug Peterson
          Amy Ruman, Simon Gregg
2013 Doug Peterson, Tony Ave
2014 Doug Peterson, Amy Ruman
2015 Amy Ruman, Doug Peterson
2016 Paul Fix, Cliff Ebben
2017 Cameron Lawrence, Vinnie Allegretta

*All photos property of Jason Searcy or Dean Reller Speed Talk on 1360 radio