After winning the 2019 TA2 Team and Driver’s Championship, Stevens-Miller Racing (SMR) regrouped and re-geared for 2020 to continue their winning ways. The northern Indiana-based team built new cars, bolstered the crew, and added one of the top GT drivers in North America, Mike Skeen.
“The competition in TA2 is so stiff I knew I’d need to step up our program for 2020 if we were to defend our 2019 titles,” said SMR team owner Joe Stevens. “We built new cars, added to our engineering staff, and brought in Mike Skeen to lead the team.”
With Skeen behind the wheel of one of their new Howe Racing Enterprises Camaros, the team has not lost a beat. After winning the opening round at Sebring, Skeen not only put the Liqui Moly Camaro on pole and won the last round at Brainerd, but in the process set a new track record, led the most laps, and had the fastest lap in the race.
Skeen, driver of the No. 77, SMR, Liqui Moly, Turn 14 Distribution, Chevrolet Camaro, said, “The performance at Brainerd was incredible and we want to keep the momentum going at our next round at Road America.”
In leading the championship Skeen feels he has a target on his back. “There are some really good teams and drivers in TA2, and they will be eager to take me down after our dominating performance at Brainerd,” he said.
Joining Skeen are current Northern and Southern Cup points leaders, Alex Wright in the No. 12 Berryman Products, Mustang and Trans Am esports standout JP Southern Jr. driving the No.61 ProcureIT Network, PittRace Camaro.
One of great things about TA2 are the different regional championships, Stevens said. “These series within the series are perfect for my arrive and drive customers. It gives customers the opportunity to contend for a title without having to be at every race on the calendar. They get to run with the big boys, gain experience, and compete with the same equipment as our lead driver.”
Wright said: “Team SMR has been great all season. Joe and his team have put me in a competitive and reliable car every time out.” Despite a flat tire on the opening lap at Brainerd Wright continues to battle. “The team did a tire change rivaling the best of NASCAR and got me back out in a hurry. Road America is a special track, I’m really looking forward to be back in my Berryman Products Mustang.”
JP was a regular top-five finisher in Trans Am’s esports series and at Mid-Ohio he transferred that success to the track. “JP’s a great young talent and we’re thrilled to have him under our awning,” Stevens said. In only his third race in a TA2 car JP notched up a top five finish at Mid-Ohio. “JP’s fourth place finish at Mid-O tells you all you need to know about his talent and the quality of the equipment we provide our customers.”
Besides cars and drivers, Stevens also added new crew. “I feel we have a great crew and have for some time,” he said. “On the other hand, when multiple TA2 Champion Gar Robinson changed his focus, I was able to pick up three of his key guys, Jim Fraser, Norm Johnson, and Dave Warfel. Their addition has greatly enhanced the engineering side of my team.”
Anyone in racing knows the harmony of within the crew is essential. Nick Allard and Stevens have been friends for years and has been with Joe from the start. Joining SMR in 2019, Josh Stewart, and Jake Thorton round out the team.
“These guys are the heart and soul of my team and it’s important to me that they are recognized,” Stevens said. “They give 100 percent and with COVID-19 it’s made this year especially difficult. Our success on track is absolutely due to their efforts and sacrifice by not just them, but their families during these difficult times.”
Besides their on-track performance, SMR is recognized in the TA2 paddock for their efforts in marketing, media and sponsor relations.
“I’ve been working with Steve Sharp for the past three seasons and he has helped elevate our program with sponsors and the media alike,” Stevens said. “He’s played a key role in bringing Liqui Moly and Berryman Products to the Trans Am paddock and specifically to SMR. Our work together has raised the visibility of our team and I’d say TA2 as a whole. Liqui Moly and Berryman Products are in their third year supporting our team and that only comes by providing marketing and sales results that exceed expectations.”
Liqui Moly’s general manager for North America, Sebastian Zelger said, “From the beginning this year, we have been excited for another year together with Stevens-Miller Racing. While the continued success of the team is always appreciated and admired, the quality of the team, personnel, and marketing focus sets Stevens-Miller Racing apart from so many other teams across motorsport.
“We increased our involvement this year with Joe and his team as we echo SMR’s desire to win. Not surprisingly, even with a new car and driver SMR picked up right where it left off with a victory to start the season at Sebring and then their dominating win at Brainerd. SMR continues to rely on a wide range of Liqui Moly’s oils and additives to once again lead the championship. We stand behind our products and are thrilled SMR has continued their winning ways while utilizing the same off-the-shelf oils and additives you can purchase for your car, truck or motorcycle.”
Beau Blankenship, marketing director for Berryman Products, said, “It’s a thrill to be involved with Joe Stevens and his team. Everyone loves our “Chemtooler” emblazoned transporter and Mustang — they are a real showstopper and one of the coolest liveries in all of motorsport. Fans young and old relate to the character created by the legendary Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.” Berryman Products is family-owned has been producing fuel additives and cleaners for more than 100 years and can be found at just about every major retailer. ‘We take pride that our products are 100-percent formulated, filled, and packaged at our plant in Arlington, Texas. Take it from Joe and Alex and pour in a can today – you’ll feel the difference!”
Stevens said his team is ready to defend their 2019 championships s well as challenge for Northern and Southern Cup titles. “The team is strong and I could not have achieved this level of success without a great group of people, products, and companies behind me.”