Checkered flags at COTA
For the second year in a row, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will conclude its season with the Mission Foods Austin SpeedTour at Circuit of The Americas, hosting a doubleheader event with both the TA/XGT/SGT/GT and TA2 races contested on one final day of racing in 2022. A combination event with both National Championship and Western Championship participants, this weekend’s event will have a record number of competitors. Composed of 28 entries in the TA/XGT/SGT/GT race and 54 in TA2, a whopping 82 cars are entered for the season finale. This tops the current event entrant record of 79 cars, which was achieved in 2016 at Sebring International Raceway, and is also an all-time record number of TA2 cars in a single event.
Following two exciting races, champions, the top Young Gun, Rookies of the Year, the CForce Fan Favorite Award winners and more will be crowned at the Trans Am Awards Gala on Sunday night following on-track activities.
Championships on the line
There are still a number of championships and points positions on the line heading into this weekend’s event. Here’s your rundown of championship scenarios for this weekend.
TA: Although Chris Dyson in the No. 16 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang has already clinched the 2022 TA championship on the strength of five wins, a tight race remains for second through fourth. Tomy Drissi (No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford Mustang), Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette) and Ken Thwaits (No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro) are all within 11 points of each other to capture the runner-up spot. Drissi currently leads the race for second with 219 points, with Ruman just six points behind. Thwaits currently ranks fourth, just five points behind Ruman.
TA2: Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang looks to be on course to capture his third-career TA2 championship and second title in a row, but Connor Mosack (No. 28 Open Eyes/Nacarato Truck Centers/Nic Tailor Custom Fit Underwear Ford Mustang), Thomas Merrill (No. 26 BridgeHaul/HP Tuners/Cope Race Cars) and Brent Crews (No. 70 Nitro Motorsports Mustang) are still mathematically in contention for the title. Matos currently holds a 30-point lead over Mosack and a 32-point lead over Merrill. Crews is just one point behind Merrill, and with 35 possible points to be gained in a race, a perfect weekend by any of the three contenders paired with adversity for the points leader could result in an upset.
TA2 Western Championship: Jeff Holden in the No. 11 RELAXandCBD.com/Dakota Lithium/Mid Valley Transmission Camaro currently holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Ken Sutherland in the No. 68 Cascade Sotheby’s/Wyatt Fire Protection Camaro. Holden has three wins this season (WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway and Utah Motorsports Campus Race 1), verses Sutherland’s single victory at Portland International Raceway.
SGT: In SGT, Milton Grant in the No. 55 Sentry Self Storage/Springhill Suites Porsche 991.1 holds a 31-point lead over son Carey Grant in the No. 6 Grant Racing 2 Porsche GT3 Cup, meaning that race is all but decided.
SGT Western Championship: In the Western Championship’s SGT class, Chris Evans in the No. 99 Chris Evans Inc. Ford Mustang is 16 points ahead of Howard Johnston in the No. 32 IWS Acquisition Group Ford Mustang. The two are entered in this weekend’s event, but in the XGT class, so Evans will claim the SGT title.
GT: Billy Griffin in the No. 14 Griffin Auto Care/Sheehan Towing Ford Mustang will take the GT Championship, with 70 points between him and his closest competitors.
Past winners return hoping to end 2022 with a win
There are a number of competitors in this weekend’s field who know how it feels to win at COTA, and they each return with the hopes of closing out the season with a victory. All three of the drivers competing for second in the TA class have prior victories at the track: Amy Ruman won in the TA class in 2015, Tomy Drissi took the TA win for the Western Championship in 2017, and Ken Thwaits earned the victory in the SGT class in 2019. Joe Bogetich, driving the No. 65 Bogie Motorsports/Westover Camaro in the Western Championship’s TA2 class this weekend, won the Western GT class in 2019. Jim Gallaugher in the No. 16 Waypointe Ford Mustang won the Western TA2 event in 2020. That same year, Boris Said in the No. 2 Technique Chassis/STEEL-IT/Weaver Dodge Challenger won in TA, and Billy Griffin won in GT. Rafa Matos earned back-to-back TA2 victories at COTA in 2020 and 2021. Last year, Matthew Brabham in the No. 20 Concord American Flagpole Ford Mustang took the victory in his Trans Am Series debut. In the Western Championship in 2021, Ken Sutherland won in the TA2 class.
Texas natives race to Lone Star State
This weekend’s entry list touts many Texas natives coming home to the Lone Star State to race at COTA.
In the TA/XGT/SGT/GT event, five drivers’ hometowns are in the great state of Texas, including Jeff Hinkle in the No. 9 TRGDataCenters.com/NetDepot.com Challenger who is from Tomball, Marc Austin in the No. 11 MAD Race Sim Lab Mercedes AMG GT3 from just outside Austin in Buda, Richard Forsythe in the No. 27 Forsythe Racing Corvette from Alvord, Mike Weathers in the No. 48 GSpeed Corvette from Conroe and Chris Coffee in the No. 97 Traffic Grafix/Deft Motion/P2R Racing Maserati MC GT4 from Carrolton. Additionally, while Dirk Leuenberger’s official hometown is Redmond, Washington, he considers COTA to be his home track because he has been racing there since 2013.
In TA2, Dylan Archer in the No. 4 FPEC Camaro is from Keller, and his TA2 teammate Cameron Lawrence in the No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro is from is from Lakeway, very close to Austin. Elias Anderson in the No. 31 Accio Data Mustang is from nearby Driftwood, and his teammate Barry Boes in the 32 Accio Data Mustang is from Austin proper. Jeffrey Birdwell in the No. 38 Hartman Davidson Mustang is from Dallas, and John Atwell in the No. 02 A&J Lab Portal Camaro is from Azle. Finally, CJ Cramm in the No. 04 Cramm Motorsports/DGK Race Engineering Camaro is from Tomball.
Trans Am races stream live for free, no app required
For those wishing to tune in to the events at COTA 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 the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, will be available on the SpeedTourTV YouTube page.
CBS Sports Network air times
This weekend’s races from COTA will air on CBS Sports Network.
TA/XGT/SGT/GT will premiere on Sunday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that night at 12:00 a.m. ET.
TA2 will first air on Sunday, November 13 at 6:00 p.m. ET, with an encore presentation later that evening at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Coming up next year
The Trans Am Series recently announced its 2023 schedule for both the Trans Am National Championship and Trans Am Western Championship. Details can be found here.
Five drivers making Trans Am Series debuts at COTA
This weekend’s TA/XGT/SGT/GT race will have five drivers making their first-career starts in the Trans Am Series: Gustavo Ortega in the No. 17 Chocron Racing Team Corvette in TA Pro/Am, Richard Forsythe in the GT class, Joey DaSilva in the No. 67 Ave Motorsports Toyota Supra in GT, Jacob Deily in the No. 70 Hyundai Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR in GT, and Chris Coffee in GT.
COTA race weekend to host most makes and models of 2022
In addition to fielding the most entries of the season (28) in TA/XGT/SGT/GT, Sunday’s race at COTA will see the most diverse mix of car makes and models that we’ve seen in 2022, with 11 car manufacturers and 14 different models. The field will be packed with the familiar Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Challengers, Vipers, Porsches and Audis, but will also see some more rare appearances such as Joey DaSilva’s Toyota Supra, Jacob Deily’s Hyundai Veloster N TCR, Chris Coffey’s Maserati MC GT4, Xuanqian Wang’s McLaren 570S GT4, Greg Anthony’s BMW M3 and Marc Austin’s Mercedes AMG GT3.
CD Racing returns with three cars and previous COTA winner
Chris Dyson’s CD Racing will launch a three-car attack this weekend at COTA. Dyson will once again drive his new No. 16, with last year’s COTA winner Matthew Brabham behind the wheel of the No. 20. Brabham has been a force to contend with in 2022, winning two of his three Trans Am starts this season, and three of his four career starts in the series. Humaid Masaood will also return to the track for the first time since Sonoma Raceway for his fourth race of the 2022 season, picking up the reins of the No. 21 allgram Ford Mustang once again. With the TA championship already clinched by Dyson, CD Racing’s only focus on Sunday will be winning the race.
Showtime Motorsports gearing up for 2023 with new car
Ken Thwaits’ Showtime Motorsports picked up their brand-new Ave-Riley AR3 Trans Am chassis for the 2023 season to undergo winter testing and development. Showtime is currently slated to have a three-car team in the TA class next year and will be taking delivery of another Ave-Riley car before the end of the month.
David Pintaric’s car is hanging around at PRI
Every year at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show (PRI), a car is selected as the famous PRI hanging car display. This year, David Pintaric’s No. 57 Ford Mustang, driven this season in the Trans Am Series, will hang from the top of the Indiana Convention Center at the Capital Cube entrance. PRI runs December 8-10.
Australian Trans Am champion to make cameo at COTA
Two-time Turtle Wax Trans Am Series champion Nathan Herne is making his United States debut in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli, driving for Stevens-Miller Racing in the No. 29 Ford Mustang in the COTA season finale. Herne recently wrapped up his second back-to-back Australian Trans Am title at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, Victoria last month. Herne will take the green flag alongside teammates Tyler Kicera in the No. 77 LIQUI MOLY/Turn 14 Distribution Camaro, rookie Evan Slater in the No. 35 CUBE 3 Architecture Ford Mustang and Rhett Barkau in the No. 01 Berryman Products Dodge Challenger.
Michele Abbate to run for Grr Racing with Showtime Motorsports
Grr Racing will make its National Championship debut this weekend with Michele Abbate behind the wheel of the No. 130 GHOST Energy x Grr Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Abbate previously drove the same car in her three years of Trans Am Western Championship competition. The team will be paddocked beside Showtime Motorsports, which will provide technical and mechanical assistance throughout the weekend.
Doug Peterson is a Hall of Famer
Peterson Racing team owner Doug Peterson will be absent from this weekend’s race at COTA because he is being inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame on November 6. Peterson, who is originally from Pontiac, Michigan, was first exposed to racing when his father Leroy raced in the Detroit area, and he has had great success in Trans Am since joining the series in 2011. Peterson won back-to-back Trans Am championships in 2013 and 2014 driving for Tony Ave Racing before starting Peterson Racing and earning two championships as an owner with driver Rafa Matos in 2018 and 2021. Mike Skeen will pilot Peterson’s No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang in Sunday’s event.
TA2 news & notes
Connor Mosack is now a married man, tying the knot with Daryn Lundberg on October 15. The couple got engaged earlier this season in Monterey Bay, California while the series was racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Team SLR owner Scott Lagasse Jr. and his wife Kelley welcomed daughter Blakely Ann Lagasse into the world on October 26. The couple has two older daughters, seven-year-old Emelia and four-year-old Hadley.
16-year-old Connor Zilisch in the No. 5 Silver Hare Racing/KHI Management Camaro already has a win at COTA this season after he was victorious in a Spec Miata race earlier this year. He also recently added the title of KA 100 Grand National Champion to his racing resume after competing in a four-day karting event at GoPro Motorplex in his hometown of Mooresville, N.C. in October.
Austin native Barry Boes is still waiting to win his first Trans Am event, but he does have success racing in other series in TA2 cars, including two victories at his home track. Joining the SCCA Super Tour in 2019, Boes won two races at COTA in the series that season, with one event run in the dry and another in the wet.
Josh Sarchet will be making his first-career start in the Trans Am Series, driving the No. 20 BC Race Cars Chevy Camaro.
Scott Borchetta announced that Parker Kligerman will pilot the No. 48 Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers Chevrolet in the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season for Borchetta’s team, Big Machine Racing.
Rookie standings & Young Gun update
The TA2 Wilwood Rookie of the Year race has already been wrapped up by Brent Crews, but $20,000 is still on the line for the TA2 Young Gun Award. Connor Mosack and Crews are just three points apart going into COTA, meaning the tight year-long battle will come down to the final race.
In the Western Championship, Ken Sutherland will take the Rookie of the Year honors.