BRASELTON, Ga. (March 21, 2009) – The Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series is back, and one of the most iconic brands in racing begins its 2009 slate, the 42nd season in the series’ storied history, this weekend, March 21-22, at Road Atlanta.
Returning after a two-year hiatus, Trans-Am has a planned eight-race schedule in 2009, running in conjunction with major Club Racing and SCCA Pro Racing events. It all begins at Road Atlanta this weekend, where more than 20 cars will bring nearly 15,000 horsepower to the scenic 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit as the featured event of the Atlanta Region SCCA National/Pro-IT weekend.
“Since the announcement at the PRI Show in December of Trans-Am’s return, there’s been a tremendous buzz in anticipation of this season’s launch,” SCCA President & CEO Jeff Dahnert said. “It all comes together this weekend and we expect a great field of cars for Sunday’s race.”
Leading that field of cars is 1978 series Champion Greg Pickett, of Benicia, Calif., in his No. 6 Muscle Milk Jaguar XKR. With 175 starts and 16 race wins to his credit, Pickett is the most seasoned and successful driver in the field and will be one to watch when the green flag drops on Round One Sunday afternoon.
Former series race winner Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., also returns this weekend with the No. 5 X-Men Origins – Wolverine Jaguar XKR from Rocketsports Racing. Drissi has been a part of 71 Trans-Am Series races, and was the winner of the 2000 Long Beach Grand Prix series race.
Rocketsports Racing, who sits second on the all-time wins list behind Roush (69 to 58), also returns to the series, but not with all-time series wins leader and team owner Paul Gentilozzi, but rather with newcomer Daniel Ramoutarsingh, of Trinidad. Ramoutarsingh is a newcomer to racing in the United States, but has experienced considerable success in a variety of Caribbean racing series. Ramoutarsingh will pilot the No. 8 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR.
While he only has 32 starts in his Trans-Am career, many point to Maiden, N.C. driver Tony Ave and his No. 10 Tony Ave Racing Ford Mustang as a favorite coming into Round One. In the last two years, Ave has won the SCCA Club Racing National Championship going away in 2007 and nearly won it again in 2008, losing fuel pressure exiting the final corner and losing the lead and the win by inches at the finish.
Just three other drivers entered have more than 10 Trans-Am Series starts on their resume, led by Simon Gregg (71 starts), who returns to the seat of his familiar No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette to lead the bow tie faithful. Alaska’s Jerry Kinn (No. 7 Carl’s Jr. Chevrolet Corvette) and Jon “Chevy” Leavy (No. 18 Murrayauto.com/Troy Industries Chevrolet Camaro) each return to the series with over a dozen starts.
Joining Ave in the blue oval camp with Ford Mustangs are a trio of Trans-Am rookies, including former SCCA National Champion Cliff Ebben and Denny Lamers in a pair of McMahon Ford-sponsored entries as well as young Ryan McManus in his Goodyear/Rapid 2-Way entry.
Chevrolet counters with another former SCCA National Champion in the open-wheel ranks, Jim Goughary Jr., in the No. 72 Luna Sueno Tequila Chevrolet Corvette. More than half of the field will be made up of Chevys, with other notable entries from longtime entrant Ruman Racing for Amy Ruman (No. 23 McNichols/Goodyear/Cenweld Corvette), SPEED World Challenge driver Rob Foster (No. 18 Downs Motorsports/LTI/Moss Fabricants Corvette), longtime SCCA racer and former National Champion Richard Grant (No. 30 Corvette), multi-time Canadian GT winner Blaise Csida (No. 07 Fat Cock Jeans Corvette) and John Schaller (No. 08 Central Powers Distributors Camaro), who won early Nationals in the Southeast Division this year.
Michael Skeen, of Charlotte, will make his series debut in the No. 70 Atlantic Autosport Corvette. While a newcomer to Trans-Am style racing, Skeen was a standout in SPEED’s television program Setup in 2008.
The most unique entry, and the perennial underdog on Road Atlanta’s long straightaways, is the No. 77 Mazdaspeed/Goodyear Tires Mazda RX-7 of Glenn Jung (Osteen, Fla.). Jung’s lightweight, rotary-powered Mazda may not have the power of the big V8s around him, but the nimble car has proved to be quite competitive, particularly if the weather were to change. He finished on the podium in GT-1 at the 2006 Runoffs in the rain.
The 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am season takes the green flag Sunday afternoon for a 36-lap, 91.44-mile contest at Road Atlanta. Follow Sunday morning’s qualifying action and the race through notes, stories and results at www.sccatrans-am.com.