Roy Fulmer IV had a spectacular debut in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli Western Championship, leading every lap in the season opener at Thunderhill Raceway Park.
The TA2 driver qualified second behind pole winner and lone TA entry Greg Pickett, but Pickett’s No. 6 Altwell CBD/Gym Weed Ford Mustang experienced a mechanical failure just before the command to start engines, forcing his withdrawal from the event.
Fulmer, who was making his first ever Trans Am start, took the lead in his No. 86 Fulmer’s Auto Body/Nichols Construction Chevrolet Camaro at the wave of the green flag and methodically hit his marks on every lap, extending his lead right up to the checkered flag.
While the rookie’s journey to the top of the podium was without challenge, the action behind him was anything but smooth. On lap 7, Ken Sutherland, who had been running in second in his No. 68 Cascade Sotheby’s/Wyatt Fire Protection Camaro, spun in Turn 8, putting Jeff Holden’s No. 11 Mid Valley Transmission/Joe’s Racing Products Camaro into second. Holden was soon overtaken by SGT driver Chris Evans in the No. 92 Chris Evans Inc. Ford Mustang.
Evans engaged in a great battle with Greg Tolson’s No. 38 GT Auto Lounge Camaro and Tim Lynn’s No. 17 Roof Options Mustang, holding onto second place until lap 17 when mechanical issues sent him to the garage and ended his day. This moved Tolson into second, which he was able to maintain for the remainder of the race, despite a close battle between himself and Lynn, who ultimately finished third.
Following the race Lynn was assessed a 40-second penalty for avoidable contact with the No. 26 car but still maintained third. Holden and Michael Fine in the No. 66 Architectural Glass Systems Inc. Camaro rounded out the top five.
“This was awesome,” said Fulmer after emerging from his car. “I’m at a loss for words. For my first weekend in this car and my first time racing in Trans Am, I can’t complain. Dad and I worked really hard coming into this weekend, and this was just awesome. I can’t wait for Laguna Seca…to see how I match up against the national guys like Rafa Matos.
“I started in Miatas at age 13 with Teen Mazda Challenge which is an awesome group to transition kids from go karts to cars,” said Fulmer, expanding on his previous racing experience. “[Miatas are] easy to run, they’re easy to drive and they teach you how to drive. I raced Miatas from 13 to 20 and we made the jump to Trans Am when we saw how awesome the cars are and how the national series runs with the Western Championship.”
Howard Johnston in the No. 32 IWS Acquisition Group Ford Mustang, who was also making his Trans Am debut, was the highest finisher in the SGT class, while Mike Sheehan was first in XGT with his No. 72 Ferraris Online LLC Lamborghini Gallardo GT3.
Tolson was awarded the ChillOut Keep Cool Move of the Race for his battle to second place.
The Trans Am Western Championship returns to the track April 22-24 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for a combined event with the National Championship.
Full race results can be found here.