After taking a weekend off in observance of Memorial Day, a venerable American series will write a new chapter at a long-lost circuit when the Trans Am presented by Pirelli Esports Championship returns to action at a virtual Riverside International Speedway Saturday, May 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
The track has been gone for more than 30 years, but will be injected with a new life as drivers get to experience the famously dusty Southern California track on virtual terms.
Drivers will continue to race identically prepared Corvette C7.r GTLM machines hosted on the ‘World’s Fastest Gamer — SIM edition’ JV with Torque Esports and Assetto Corsa for Round 5 of the Esports championship as the series visits a legendary facility.
“Many of the drivers on the Esports roster were not even born yet when Trans Am hosted its last race at Riverside,” said Trans Am Racing Company President John Clagett. “The Assetto Corsa and Torque Esports team designed a virtual course for our drivers to experience a bit of Trans Am’s past. Watching practice has brought back a lot of great memories for me, and we hope that it will for our long-time fans as well.”
Located 50 miles east of Los Angeles, Riverside hosted major races from 1957 through 1988, falling victim to development and closing on July 2, 1989, to become a shopping center. The circuit’s signature event throughout its existence was the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, a race that included USRRC, Can-Am and Camel GT sports cars.
Trans Am played a major role at Riverside, competing 10 times at the circuit and hosting the finale of the 1966 inaugural season, a race won by Jerry Titus in a Ford Mustang fielded by Carroll Shelby. The following year, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion David Pearson won, driving a Mercury Cougar fielded by NASCAR car owner Bud Moore.
Riverside hosted the season finale from 1969 through 1971, three of Trans Am’s “Golden Years.” Mark Donohue won the 1969 race in Roger Penske Chevrolet Camaro, but Ford turned the tables in 1970, with Parnelli Jones winning his fifth race of the campaign in Moore’s championship-winning Mustang. Penske returned to the top step in 1971, with George Follmer and Vic Elford making it a 1-2 finish for Penske’s AMC Javelins.
Riverside returned to the Trans Am calendar in 1980, with Greg Pickett winning in a Corvette. David Hobbs took his fourth and final triumph in his 1983 championship season in a DeAtley Budweiser Camaro. DeAtley switched Chevrolet models for 1984, with Darin Brassfield winning his second race of the year in a Budweiser Corvette.
Trans Am opened its 1986 campaign at Riverside. Scott Pruett drove from the back to the front to win in a Jack Roush Motorcraft Mercury Capri in the final Trans Am race held at the classic circuit.
Riverside’s accolades include hosting the second Formula 1 race in the U.S., won by Stirling Moss in 1960; being the only track to hold three NASCAR Cup Series races in one year (1981); and holding races for Can-Am (1966-73), IMSA Camel GT (1975-87), NASCAR (1963-88), USAC Indy cars (1967-69) and CART Champ Car (1981-83). Its final race was a NASCAR Cup Series event won by Rusty Wallace in June, 1988. The property was then sold and turned into the Moreno Valley Mall.
Live coverage of the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship Round 5 begins Saturday, May 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET, with live commentary from Jonathan Green and Ben Cissell, featuring a short qualifying followed by two 20-minute main events. For added excitement, the second round will begin with an inverted field.
Fans can stream the action on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing app. The live stream will also be available on the series Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as UMG TV Esports Network on Mobile (IOS and Android), Apple TV, Fire TV and ROKU.