Trans Am's long history with F1 circuits in North America

Trans Am's long history with F1 circuits in North America

Trans Am

Trans Am's long history with F1 circuits in North America

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When the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli returns to Circuit of The Americas for its 2021 season finale on Nov. 5-7 with the Austin SpeedTour for the Heacock Classic, the visit will be only two weeks after the Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix.

Over the years, Trans Am has been a frequent competitor at tracks used by Formula 1 — in both the United States, Canada and Mexico. The series raced at all 10 American venues used for F1 races, in addition to all three Canadian circuits to host F1, and the long-time host of the Mexican GP.

COTA will be Trans Am’s third race this season at a circuit with Grand Prix heritage. The 2021 season (as well as Trans Am’s history) opened at Sebring, which hosted the first U.S. Grand Prix in 1959, and also competed at Watkins Glen, whose proud legacy includes 20 F1 races from 1961 through 1980.

The tradition goes all the way back to the beginning of Trans Am, when F1 tracks sandwiched the inaugural 1966 season. Fittingly, the campaign opened at Sebring, and ended seven races later in Riverside, Calif., scene of the second U.S. GP in 1960. Watkins Glen first hosted Trans Am in 1968, a year when the series also competed at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St. Jovite — host of the Canadian Grand Prix in 1968 and 1970. (VIDEO: Throwback Race ft. Mario Andretti – Trans Am at Sebring 1970 – YouTube)

Mosport (now known as Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) held its first Trans Am in 1976. That challenging circuit held F1 races eight times, beginning in 1967. (VIDEO: Upset at Mosport in Final Moments of 1994 Trans Am Classic (Full Race) – YouTube)

Montreal began hosting the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Ile Notre Dame in 1978, which was renamed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 1982. Trans Am raced at that circuit in 2005, two months after the F1 event.

In 1978, the Trans Am season ended in Mexico City’s Magdalena Mixhuca circuit — later named in honor of fallen Mexican stars Rodrigo and Pedro Rodriguez (Hermanos Rodriguez). That circuit hosted F1 from 1963 through 1970, 1986-92, and returned in 2015.

Las Vegas hosted F1 in 1981 and 1982 on a temporary track located at Caesars Palace. CART took over the race in 1983, with Willy T. Ribbs winning Saturday’s Trans Am and Mario Andretti the CART winner the following day.

Trans Am partnered with F1 for the first time in 1984, running in the streets of Detroit as the Saturday warm-up for the U.S. Grand Prix — a position it held through the final GP in 1988. (VIDEO: The Trans Am Series at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – YouTube)

Dallas hosted both F1 and Trans Am at Dallas Fair Park. The 1984 GP was run in 100-degree heat on a crumbling track, remembered by an exhausted Nigel Mansell collapsing while attempting to push his car to the finish line. Trans Am raced at the venue in 1988, won by Hurley Haywood in an Audi on a 1.3-mile circuit that used portions of the GP track. These were the lone races held at that circuit.

In 1990, Trans Am opened its 25th season on the streets of Phoenix, serving as the Saturday race for the Formula 1 Iceberg USA Grand Prix. Robert Lappalainen won the 250th Trans Am race, running the circuit used by F1 from 1989 through 1991.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway took its turn as host of the U.S. Grand Prix from 2000 through 2007. Trans Am competed at the Brickyard three times, from 2017 through 2019. Ernie Francis Jr. won the opening two races, with Chris Dyson victorious in 2019. (VIDEO: The Trans Am Series – Full Race – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – YouTube)

Formula 1 returned to the United States in 2012 at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, competing there annually since then with the exception of the 2020 pandemic. Trans Am first raced at COTA in 2015, one month after the inaugural F1 race, with Amy Ruman (TA), Adam Andretti (TA2) and Ernie Francis Jr. (TA3 American Muscle) winning races. COTA has returned to the Trans Am calendar annually since then.

Live Timing and Scoring for Heacock Classic for Trans Am will be available at www.GoTransAm.com/LiveTiming.

 

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