The cars are certainly the stars when the rumbling V8s of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli and the historically significant racing machines of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) take to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for this weekend’s Trans Am SpeedFest May 3-5. However, the drivers behind the controls bring added dimension to the highly anticipated event.
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli offers numerous storylines within its four categories during a return to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca following a 15-year absence. The first of two 70-minute feature races takes place on Saturday at 12:50-2 p.m. with the Camaros, Mustangs, Corvettes, Vipers, and Cadillacs of the top category – TA – sharing the track with their sporty counterparts in the GT and SuperGT classes.
TA points leader Lawrence Loshak enters the event going for a hat trick after winning from the pole at Sebring and Road Atlanta. The Milwaukee native and Burtin Racing Camaro teammate Tomy Drissi, an advertising executive in Hollywood, have formidable challengers standing in their wake.
Amy Ruman is a favorite to shake up the early Camaro domination in her McNichols Corvette. The Ohio native became the first woman in the series’ history to win a race, accomplishing the historic feat at the 2011 season finale. In 2015, she would become the first woman to win a Trans Am Series Championship which she pronounced with eight wins in 12 races. She successfully defended her title in 2016.
Reigning two-time TA champion Ernie Francis Jr., driver of the Breathless Racing/Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang, has been nothing short of sensational in his young career. The 21-year-old Floridian has won five titles across three categories and also has a burgeoning stock car career as a driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Other notable characters in TA include returning veteran Greg Pickett, who holds the distinction of being the only driver to win a race in four decades of Trans-Am competition, and Simon Gregg, a successful Trans Am driver who is the son of late sports car legend Peter Gregg. Both drivers competed in the Trans Am West Coast Championship event in Fontana last weekend with Gregg collecting the victory.
Twenty-seven TA2 drivers are entered in the popular category that will compete in the 70-minute feature on Sunday at 12:50-2 p.m. Six California racers will be attempting to win on their home turf.
With over 240 racers across the 12 SVRA categories, there are countless stories among the drivers and families who choose to race cars from different eras that, in many cases, belong on display in a museum. From the rare and significant Lotus Elevens in Group 4 to Travis Engen’s thundering 2005 Audi R8 LMP in Group 11, there is something for everyone who enjoys speed, beauty or historical significance in the automotive racing world.