In a weekend of new beginnings, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli began its 2012 season to celebrate the Victoria Day Speedfest at the former Mosport International Raceway.
It was the first event managed by The Trans Am Race Company, LLC, led by President John Clagett. It was also the first major weekend for the rechristened Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and its new ownership group that included Trans Am driver Ron Fellows.
In qualifying, defending two-time champion Tony Ave captured the pole in his Lamers Corvette. He was joined on the front row by Canadian Blaise Csida in his Gateway Corvette, followed by Doug Peterson and Simon Gregg. Amy Ruman, coming off her first career victory in the 2011 finale at Road Atlanta, was fifth in a new Corvette C6.
Defending TA2 champ Bob Stretch led that class in a Camaro, followed by Ctek Chargers teammates Pete Halsmer and Mike Miller. Ave took the lead at the start, followed by Peterson and Ruman.
Tom Sheehan spun on Lap 4, taking out Miller, who slammed into a barrier and was out of the race. Sheehan continued and finished sixth in TA2. Ruman trailed Peterson closely in the opening laps in the fight for second. A fuel pickup problem sent Ruman to the pits. She returned and finished sixth.
A key moment came when Peterson and Csida made it by Ave. The defending champ then lost his left-rear tire in Moss corner, nearly resulting in an incident with Gregg in the No. 59 Corvette. Ave eventually retired after 16 laps due to a faulty differential.
Peterson (pictured above) led the rest of the way, although Canadian driver Ian Patterson charged from ninth starting position to place second, 2.686s back. Gregg rounded out the podium. The race ended seven laps early due to an incident on the back stretch that would have required a lengthy cleanup.
“I cannot believe that I really won this race,” Peterson said after scoring his first career victory. “Mr. and Mrs. Tony Ave built me a phenomenal car. It’s been a while since I won a real race like this, and I want to thank everybody.”
Peterson ended the year with two victories and placed fourth in the final standings. He went on to capture the title in 2013 and 2014.
While Csida finished ninth in TA, two of his cars finished in the top five — the Corvette of Patterson and the fourth-place Ford Mustang of fellow Canadian Andrew Romocki.
Halsmer, returning to action after a four-year layoff, passed Stretch for the lead shortly before the race-ending incident and won in TA2, followed by Stretch and Michael Wilson.
“I felt bad for Bob in a way, because he was starting to struggle with the tires,” Halsmer said in victory lane. “That’s just what happens when you’re racing really hard. I tried to take him on the outside of a fast corner, and that’s something that’s really not a smart move on most guys. I thought I’d find out what kind of racer he really was, and he really is a good racer. He let me have a little space. He raced me hard, but he raced me clean.”
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli returns to Lime Rock Park for the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic, May 28-31. Optional testing for the TA/XGT/SGT/GT class will be held on Friday morning followed by one official practice (2:20 p.m. ET) and split qualifying sessions starting at 5:20 p.m. ET. Saturday the TA2 drivers will host an optional test session before the 67 laps (or 75 minutes) TA/XGT/SGT/GT Feature Race. The day will conclude with an official test session from TA2 at 5:05 p.m. ET. Since there is no racing allowed on Sunday, the track will hold a car show and flea market for spectators. On Monday, the racing action continues with TA2 qualifying at 9:05 a.m. ET and wraps up with the 67 laps ( or 75 minutes) race at 1:15 p.m. ET.
The full weekend will be live streamed for subscribers on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App: Click here to download
The gates will also open to spectators. Click here for tickets information