Coasting to a halt after a wiring issue knocked him out of second place at the Trans Am season opener at Sebring in February, Chris Dyson couldn’t have imagined it would be more than four months before he took to the track again in his No. 20 Plaid Mustang.
“The team was ready to leave for Road Atlanta when the seriousness of the public health situation became clear and everything began shutting down,” Dyson said, recalling the time between Sebring and the next scheduled event on the Trans Am calendar. “Humaid (Al Masaood, driver of the team’s No. 21 Amamos La Vida Tequila Mustang) had finished a strong fourth at Sebring. We had rectified the wiring problem on my car and Humaid and I were both looking forward to a great race at Road Atlanta. Instead, it’s summer and our second race will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“The cost in lives and money to the nation and all of its citizens has been terrible,” Dyson said of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down racing after that opening round, “But the situation is improving, at least in some parts of the country, and I am pleased our first race back will be at Mid-Ohio.
“Last year Ernie (Francis Jr.) and I had a terrific race at Mid-Ohio, battling for the lead the whole way. I don’t think there was ever more than a couple car lengths separating us throughout the race. Unfortunately, the race ended under the yellow flag, so the fans – to say nothing of Ernie and me – were denied the battle to the checker everyone had been hoping for. So, I feel like there’s some unfinished business to take care of on Saturday. I just can’t wait to get back to competition.”
Al Masaood, who has spent his lockdown time outside of London, is equally keen to get back on the track. “I was pleased with the both the car’s performance and mine at Sebring, and it’s been tough waiting for the chance to improve further on our results at Sebring,” he said.
Al Masaood also expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by Trans Am Series officials and individual race promoters in reorganizing the 2020 calendar and maintaining a 10-race schedule. “We will be doing more races in late summer and in the fall than was originally the case, but I’m sure all the stakeholders in the series – drivers, teams, sponsors, event organizers and fans – are pleased that we will still have a full schedule rather than one that’s been truncated.”
Dyson noted that the team since the shutdown has now had four weeks back in the shop in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., preparing for the remainder of the season. He gave credit to state and local government officials for the job they’ve done managing the pandemic over the past four months.
“As everyone is aware, New York State officials, and particularly Governor (Andrew) Cuomo and our (Dutchess) County Executive Marc Molinaro, have done a great job under trying circumstances in managing the state’s response to the coronavirus,” Dyson said. “The result has been a safe reopening of the state and of our race shop. The team is carefully practicing appropriate social distancing in the shop, as all of us in the Trans Am community will be at Mid-Ohio this weekend. It has been a difficult period, but we are back and ready to go racing.”
The Mid-Ohio race was originally going to be a non-spectator event. However, as conditions in Ohio have improved, last-minute negotiations between the race organizers and government officials mean a limited number of spectators will be permitted to attend the race.
Fans unable to attend the event won’t miss out on the Trans Am action which will be live streamed from the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App (download HERE). The app stream will include six different camera angles, allowing following one particular driver through the field if they wish (Dyson’s Plaid Mustang will be among the cars fitted with cameras for this event). The stream will also be available on the series Facebook and YouTube pages.