Trans Am returns to The Big Easy
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads to The Big Easy for Round 2 of the 2023 season at NOLA Motorsports Park. This is only the third appearance at the New Orleans track for Trans Am, which previously hosted races at NOLA in 2015 and 2016. The 2.75-mile FIA Grade 2 track has been repaved since Trans Am’s last visit, providing a different experience for the handful of drivers who have previous NOLA experience.
Saturday, March 11
3:35-4:10 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 12
12:30-1:45 p.m. CT
Race Length: 37 Laps/75 Minutes
Thursday, March 16
9:00 p.m. ET
Friday, March 10
1:50-2:25 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 11
12:25-1:40 p.m. CT
Race Length: 37 Laps/75 Minutes
Thursday, March 16
8:00 p.m. ET
TA2 Grand Marshal bringing joy to NOLA
Giving the command for this Saturday’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series race is New Orleans native Greg Kata, best known on TikTok as @gregisms. Branded as the Accidental Influencer, the actor, educator and Broadway alum entertains his 2.6 million followers with observational humor and encourages everyone to “Find Your Joy.”
Cars & Crawfish Cook-Off
In addition to all of the exciting racing on tap at the NOLA SpeedTour event, on Saturday the track is hosting its second annual Cars & Crawfish Cook-Off. Cooking teams will face off from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to see who can prepare the best crawfish boil. All-you-can-eat crawfish will be provided to spectators while supplies last, and you may see your favorite TA/XGT/SGT/GT drivers judging the food around 11:30 a.m.
Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month, and the Trans Am Series has two prominent women in the paddock providing inspiration to young female racers and fans. Amy Ruman and Michele Abbate are the series’ two full-time female drivers, with Ruman driving the No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette in the TA class and Abbate behind the wheel of the No. 30 Ghost Energy/Lucas Oil Ford Mustang in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series.
Ruman made history in 2015 when she became the first female to win a Trans Am title since the series’ inception in 1966. The following season, she set the bar even higher, becoming the first female to earn back-to-back Trans Am championships. Competing in the TA class since 2009, Ruman has tallied 16 victories in the series. In 2014, she became the first female solo driver to win a professional automobile race at Daytona International Speedway with her TA victory.
Abbate started her racing career with regional SCCA Autocross when she was just 16 years old. The Las Vegas native quickly expanded her experience, earning her wheel-to-wheel license and becoming a factory-backed road racing driver for Toyota/Scion. Earning five club racing championships in her career, Abbate transitioned into stock cars in 2018 and finished third in her debut in the GT-1 category at the SCCA National Runoffs. She is the only woman to have competed full-time in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series, and set the record for the highest-finishing female in TA2 history at Circuit of The Americas in 2021.
Other female drivers competing in the series this year include Cindi Lux, who earned two SGT victories in 2022, Michele Nagai, who finished fifth in TA2 in last weekend’s Trans Am Western Championship race, and Kaylee Bryson, who competed in the SGT class at this year’s season opener at Sebring. Bryson will also be competing in the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association this season as she prepares to move into TA2.
Amy Ruman only past NOLA winner
There are a few drivers who have previous Trans Am experience at NOLA Motorsports Park, but only one in this weekend’s field can say they’ve brought home the trophy. Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols Co. Corvette) won the 2015 TA race on her way to becoming the first female Trans Am champion later that year. When she returned to the track in 2016, she once again was on the podium with a second-place finish. Below are the other TA/XGT/SGT/GT drivers in this weekend’s event who participated in the two races at the track.
Kerry Hitt, No. 22 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Chevrolet Camaro (2015, 2016)
David Pintaric, No. 57 Kryderacing Ford Mustang (2016)
Lee Saunders, No. 44 LandSearch LLC Dodge Viper (2015)
Milton Grant, No. 55 Springhill Suites/Sentry Self Storage Porsche 991.1 (2016)
CD Racing starts season with 1-2 finish
CD Racing enjoyed a successful season opener at Sebring International Raceway, earning a 1-2 finish with Matthew Brabham and Adam Andretti. Brabham (No. 20 Gym Weed Ford Mustang) brought home his fourth win in only six Trans Am starts. With second-place finishes in his other two events, Brabham has accrued an impressive average finish of 1.3.
Team owner Chris Dyson (No. 16 Gym Weed Ford Mustang) experienced mechanical issues that took him out of the Sebring race early, but he hopes to return to the podium at NOLA in pursuit of his third consecutive championship. This weekend, Brabham and Dyson will swap the chassis they drove in Sebring, with Dyson opting for the new Riley car the team is developing, and Brabham getting behind the wheel of the Meissen car that Dyson drove to his two TA titles.
2022 XGT Western Champion making first National start
This weekend will be the first National Championship start for Chris Evans in the No. 92 Central Welding Supply Ford Mustang. Evans has competed in the Trans Am Western Championship the last two seasons, earning the XGT title in 2022 with four victories.
Peterson Racing triumphant, Matos can tie TA2 win record
It was an exceptional day for Peterson Racing at Sebring, where the team scored a 1-2 finish in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series season opener. Rafa Matos in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang tallied his third-career victory at the Florida track and was joined on the podium by teammate Austin Green in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang. Team owner Doug Peterson in the No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang also collected a trophy on the podium, winning the TA2 Masters Award.
Matos’ 19th-career victory brought him one step closer to topping the TA2 charts, as he now needs just one more checkered flag to tie Cameron Lawrence for all-time wins in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series (20).
March means saving lives for TeamSLR
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which has a special meaning for TeamSLR owner Scott Lagasse Jr. Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest form of cancer in the United States, and in 2015, Lagasse was diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 34. Knowing something “wasn’t quite right” when he was training for a triathlon, Lagasse didn’t hesitate to see his doctor, and is alive today because of his early diagnosis. Lagasse established ScreenYourMachine.org to educate people to get age-appropriate screenings for all types of cancer, and his team has partnered with the American Gastroenterological Association to raise awareness of CRC and encourage people to take advantage of the safe and effective screenings that could save their lives.
“I’m healthy today because I decided to get a check-up,” said Lagasse. “Had I not visited my doctor, I might not be alive today pursuing my passion as a devout husband and father and running a successful racing organization with my dad.”
Mariano Werner makes debut
This weekend at NOLA, Mariano Werner from Entre Rios, Argentina will make his first-career Trans Am start. Werner is an experienced racer, having won five national championships between Formula Renault Argentina (2006, 2007), Turismo Nacional Clase 3 (2017) and Turismo Carretera (2020, 2021). Werner has already won the first Turismo Carretera race of the season in Viedma. Werner will be behind the wheel of the No. 12 Memo Corse Ford Mustang at NOLA.
Will track time pay off?
There are only four drivers in the TA2 field who have previous experience in Trans Am at NOLA Motorsports Park, and no past winners.
Tom Sheehan, No. 97 LTK Insulation Ford Mustang (2015, 2016)
John Atwell, No. 02 A&J Lab Portal Chevrolet Camaro (2015, 2016)
Dillon Machavern, No. 17 SLR-M1 Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro (2015, 2016)
Keith Prociuk, No. 9 HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang (2015, 2016)
TA2 news & notes
Connor Zilisch (No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro) won the Mazda MX-5 Cup Race 2 at Grand the Prix of St. Petersburg this past weekend, marking his first pro win of 2023.
Brian Keselowski, crew chief for Young Gun Thomas Annunziata (No. 90 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang) spotted for his brother Brad Keselowski last weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Keselowski filled in for regular spotter TJ Majors, who was sick. Together the pair ran up front and earned a stage win.