Trans Am begins West Coast swing at Laguna Seca

Trans Am begins West Coast swing at Laguna Seca

Trans Am

Trans Am begins West Coast swing at Laguna Seca

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The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is going west for the first of two back-to-back events in the Golden State. This weekend, both the National Championship and Western Championship will come together at California’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The entry list currently boasts a combined total of 61 entries between both National and Western competitors, with 16 slated to compete in the TA/XGT/STG/GT event on Saturday, and 45 competitors in Sunday’s TA2 feature, the most entries the class has ever seen at Laguna Seca. The 29 National TA2 competitors mark a 61 percent increase over the previous record of 18 entries at the track.

While performance and results are always the primary goal for any Trans Am team, it’s important for both National and Western Championship teams to minimize damage and mechanical failures this weekend to prevent complications during the quick turnaround to Sonoma Raceway next week. This is the first and only set of back-to-back races on Western teams’ seven-track schedule (though there is a doubleheader at Utah Motorsports Campus in October), and the second of three back-to-back pairings for National teams. National competitors previously went back-to-back with last month’s races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta, and will once again hold back-to-back events later this year at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course and Road America.

Past Laguna Seca winners chasing trophies
Four of last year’s Laguna Seca winners return this year in the hopes of consecutive victories. Tomy Drissi, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang won last year’s TA class at the track after a penalty was issued to Boris Said, and Erich Joiner, driver of the No. 10 goodboybob Coffee Roasters Porsche GT3R took the top spot in the XGT class.

In TA2, Rafa Matos, driver of the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang, won last year’s event for the National Championship, and Tim Lynn, driver of the No. 17 Roof Options Ford Mustang, won the class in the Western Championship.

Other past winners in the field include Thomas Merrill, driver of the No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, who was the National winner in the TA2 class in 2019, and Simon Gregg, driver of the No. 59 Burtin Racing/59 Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, who was the Western TA winner in 2019 and will be competing this year for the National win.

California drivers dreaming of a Laguna Seca win
This weekend’s race at Laguna Seca has 15 drivers entered from the Golden State. In the TA class, Californians include National drivers Adam Carolla (Van Nuys), Tomy Drissi (Los Angeles) and Erich Joiner (Torrance), and Western competitors Michael LaPaglia (Murrieta) and Mike Sheehan (Costa Mesa).

TA2 competitors from California are National drivers Carl Rydquist (Pleasanton) and Thomas Merrill (Salinas). Western drivers include Tim Lynn (Kentfield), Mitch Marvosh (Santa Barbara), Nick Rosseno (Rancho Cucamonga), Greg Tolson (Rancho Cordova), Andy Kwitowski (Morgan Hill), Michael Fine (Orangevale), Cameron Parsons (Hanford) and Roy Fulmer IV (Placerville).

TA points battle intensifies, TA2 standings see lots of movement After Road Atlanta
Championship battles are becoming clearer with three rounds down in 2022. In TA, last year’s champion Chris Dyson, driver of the No. 20 ALTWELL Ford Mustang, continues to lead over Tomy Drissi, Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Chevrolet Corvette, and Ken Thwaits, driver of the No. 7 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro, who each moved up one spot following Paul Menard’s absence at Road Atlanta. With a total of 90 points, the gap behind Dyson has widened, with Drissi (78) 12 points back and Ruman and Thwaits (70) tied 20 points behind.

In TA2, Tyler Kicera, driver of the No. 77 Liqui-Moly/Turn 14 Distribution Camaro, now leads the point standings by nine points, gaining six positions as a result of his fifth-place finish in Road Atlanta. Cameron Lawrence in the No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro sits second, up two positions from where he sat post-Charlotte. Mike Skeen, driver of the No. 89 3Dimensional Services Group Mustang is third, losing one spot in the standings despite a victory. Fourth is Rafa Matos, who lost three positions following a 34th-place finish at Road Atlanta. Rounding out the top five is Thomas Merrill, who lost two positions despite a second-place finish in the last event.

Racing legend Willy T. Ribbs to serve as SpeedFest Grand Marshal
Trans Am legend Willy T. Ribbs will preside over the festivities at this weekend’s Trans Am SpeedFest at Laguna Seca, serving as grand marshal for the weekend. Ribbs became the first African-American man to test a Formula One car in 1986, and the first African-American man to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1991. Prior to both of those groundbreaking moments, Ribbs enjoyed a successful career in the Trans Am Series, winning 16 races between 1983 and 1985, garnering Rookie of the Year honors in 1983 and finishing second in the points twice (1983 and 1985). Although he only ran three full-time seasons, Ribbs continued to race in Trans Am until 2000, totaling 17 victories and 11 poles in 61 total starts in his 17-year career. Younger fans may recognize Ribbs’ name from his hit documentary “Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story,” which premiered in 2020, or from the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) series, where he competed just last year.

Historic Trans Am at Laguna Seca
The Trans Am Series has only raced at Laguna Seca 12 times in its 56-year history, with the first event at the track held in 1969. With Historic Trans Am joining the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) at Trans Am SpeedFest this weekend, we may see a few blasts from the past. Some vehicles expected to be at the track include Mark Donohue’s Penske Camaro, which won the Over 2.0 Liter class at Trans Am’s first race at the track. Parnelli Jones’ 1970 winning Bud Moore Ford Mustang is also expected to be at the track this weekend. Historic Trans Am races on Saturday, April 23 at 4:25 p.m. PT/7:25 p.m. ET and Sunday, April 24 at 11:00 a.m. PT/2:00 p.m. ET, both of which can be streamed on the Trans Am YouTube page and SpeedTourTV YouTube page.

Trans Am races stream live for free, no app required
For those wishing to tune in to the events at Laguna Seca this weekend, the Trans Am Series races will air live on the Trans Am YouTube page and Facebook page, and a full schedule of events, including Historic Trans Am and racing from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association will be available on the new SpeedTourTV YouTube page.

CBS Sports Network air times
This weekend’s races from Laguna Seca will air on CBS Sports Network the week following the event.

TA/XGT/SGT/GT will premiere on Thursday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation on Saturday, April 30 at 11:00 p.m. ET.

TA2 will first air on Sunday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET, with an encore later that night at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Adam Carolla joins Trans Am at Laguna Seca with Showtime Motorsports
Comedian, radio personality and podcaster Adam Carolla joins the Trans Am Series for this weekend’s event at Laguna Seca, driving the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro for Showtime Motorsports in Saturday’s TA race. Carolla, who hosts The Adam Carolla Show and CarCast with Adam Carolla podcasts, has previously raced with Trans Am, driving a Corvette C7.R to a podium finish at Willow Springs Raceway in 2017. Showtime Motorsports team owner Ken Thwaits recently appeared on the April 15 episode of CarCast, which you can listen to here.

Thwaits did double duty at Laguna Seca last year, running both the TA and TA2 events. The 2020 XGT champion earned his first-career podium finish in the TA class with a third-place result, and won Masters honors in the TA2 event.

CD Racing looking for redemption, repeat for Dyson and Masaood
CD Racing’s two drivers are each looking for different things when the team pulls into the paddock at Laguna Seca. Defending champion Chris Dyson in the No. 20 ALTWELL Ford Mustang is looking for redemption from a disappointing finish in 2021. Last year, Dyson won the pole with a new track record, led the most laps and ran the fastest lap of the race, but late-race contact with another competitor resulted in damage and required a visit to pit road. Dyson finished sixth, his worst result in his championship-winning season.

Humaid Masaood, who will be driving the No. 21 allgram Ford Mustang, is looking to repeat or better his 2021 West Coast efforts. Masaood finished second at Laguna Seca last year, earning his best finish of the season. This effort was matched the following week at Sonoma Raceway’s Western Championship event, where the English driver also finished second.

Simon Gregg and Cindi Lux making 2022 debuts this weekend
Two Trans Am Series regulars will be making their first starts of the 2022 season this weekend. 2012 TA champion Simon Gregg, who currently holds the record for all-time starts in the series, will be driving the No. 59 Burtin Racing/59 Motorsports Camaro in Saturday’s TA event. Gregg’s father Peter won in the first ever Trans Am event at Laguna Seca in 1969, earning the victory in the Under 2.0 Liter class in his Brumos Porsche.

Cindi Lux also returns to the National series for the first time since 2019 in her No. 45 Black Rock Coffee Bar/Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper ACR-X in the SGT class. Lux unveiled her schedule for the entire 2022 season, and will also be competing at Sonoma Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America, Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway and Circuit of the Americas.

Western Championship’s Mike Sheehan running an older number this weekend
Mike Sheehan won his first start of the Trans Am Western Championship season earlier this month at Thunderhill Raceway Park in his No. 72 Ferraris Online LLC Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 in the XGT class, but he’ll be changing things up before he arrives in Laguna Seca this weekend. The driver celebrated his 73rd birthday on April 13th and will be updating his Lambo’s number to reflect the change: this week, and for the remainder of the season, Sheehan will drive the No. 73.

Hometown hero Thomas Merrill returns to Laguna Seca
Salinas, California-native Thomas Merrill is the hometown hero heading into this weekend’s event at Laguna Seca. Merrill, who won in TA2 at the track in 2019, lives so close to the racetrack that he can hear the racecars from his house. Merrill comes from a racing family, where he and his brother Jonathan learned from his racer parents, Lauren and Ross. With lots of friends and family nearby, you can expect there to be a lot of Merrill fans at the track this weekend.

“I’m incredibly fortunate to come from a family of racers,” said Merrill. “They know what it’s like to be in the racing mindset, so they get it. When I was young and we all raced together, it was, for sure, competitive, but not until we were all up front. We supported one another to make sure we were all fast, which was a great way to learn about the value of teamwork.”

“I’m a firm believer that in order to be the best, you’ve got to believe in yourself,” Merrill stated when asked who the best racer in his family is. “So having said that, I am the best racer in my family,” he said with a laugh.

This weekend is one of the rare occasions where he and his father are racing at the same track on the same weekend. Ross Merrill will be racing in SVRA group 10 in his No. 22 Thunderbird.

News notes: Darin Mock & Silver Hare Racing
Two teams in the Trans Am paddock had some NASCAR-related news to share this past week. Darin Mock, son of NASCAR driver and team owner Butch Mock, will be driving a special throwback paint scheme the next two weekends on the West Coast. The livery will recreate NASCAR legend and “Alabama Gang” member Neil Bonnett’s winning No. 75 car from 1983, which was owned by Butch’s team, Rahmoc Racing. The scheme will also include original sponsor, Hodgdon, and will use the No. 75.

Silver Hare Racing made an announcement this week that veteran NASCAR crew chief Gil Martin has joined the organization as Director of Competition. Martin will oversee all aspects of the Trans Am team, which fields cars for Young Gun Connor Zilisch and three-time Masters champion and team owner Maurice Hull. This weekend, full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Lawless Alan will step into Hull’s seat, piloting the No. 25 AutoParkIt Ford Mustang. Alan has a great deal of experience in Trans Am, finishing sixth at Laguna Seca in 2019 and earning TA2 Rookie of the Year honors at the end of that season.

Western Championship: Roy Fulmer IV schooled the field at Thunderhill
Roy Fulmer IV had a spectacular debut in the Trans Am Western Championship, leading every lap in the season opener at Thunderhill Raceway Park. Fulmer cruised to victory in dominant fashion, leaving his competitors to engage in intense battles in his wake. Fulmer, who works closely with his father at his family-owned team comes to Trans Am from driving Miatas, starting at 13 in the Teen Mazda Challenge. Fulmer describes the Miatas as easy to drive and good for teaching racers how to drive due to their relatively low horsepower. Miatas are also where current TA2 points leader Tyler Kicera got his start.

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