Created in 1966, by SCCA President John Bishop, the Trans-American Sedan Championship was derived from the Sports Car Club of America's A & B Sedan amateur Club Racing classes, and was divided into 2 classes; the Over 2.0 Liter (O-2) and Under 2.0 Liter (U-2), with both classes running together. Formed at the dawn of the “pony car” era, this series was best known for competition among American V8 sedans such as the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, Mercury Cougar, AMC Javelin & AMX, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Dart & Dodge Challenger in the 1960s and early 1970s. A fan favorite in the early '70s was the "Grey Ghost", a '64 Pontiac Tempest prepared by Pontiac Chief Engineer Herb Adams and a his young Engineers, which had once been Adams' wife's car. Marques such as Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Datsun, Mini-Cooper, Saab, and Volkswagen competed in the in the series Under 2.0 Liter category.
The Pontiac Trans Am, was named for the series. Interestingly, according to SCCA archives, the car which is named for the racing series has only taken 7 wins in the 42 year old series 446 events. The last win by a Pontiac Trans Am was in 1984.
The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is the sanctioning body for the series and holds the rights to the "Trans-Am" name. The series was most recently operated by the Champ Car World Series and ran the majority of its races in support of the parent open-wheel championship.
Due to a lack of participants and interest, the series ceased operations after the 2005 season. However the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) continued to own the name and permitted Heartland Park Topeka to run two races in September and October 2006 using Trans Am rules and the Trans Am name. In 2009, the SCCA will revive the series based on the GT-1 class and five races have been announced, with former champion Greg Pickett sponsoring the series with the Muscle Milk brand, using the SCCA's GT-1 category rules.
The Beginnings (1966 - 1967)
At first, the Trans-Am vehicles were primarily modified versions of the road-going car. The competition was divided into two classes- an "Under 2 Liter" class (predominantly small European sedans) and the "Over 2 Liter" class (displacement limited to 5.0 liters, or 305 cu. in.).
The first race was in 1966 at Sebring International Raceway. The overall win went to Jochen Rindt driving an Alfa Romeo GTA (an Under 2 Liter entry), with Bob Tullius (driving a Dodge Dart) taking second overall, but first in the Over 2 Liter class. The separate 12 Hours of Sebring race that same weekend was marred by tragedy: driver Bob McLean is killed in one accident and another incident between Mario Andretti and Don Wester resulted in the deaths of four spectators who were struck by Wester’s car after they entered a prohibited area.
The Golden Era (1968-1972)
These years were largely dominated by Mark Donohue, driving for Roger Penske. Penske campaigned Chevy Camaros through 1969, when he signed with American Motors to race the Javelin in 1970 and 1971. Donohue would chalk up 20 race victories between 1967 and 1970 and three unofficial drivers's championships, the third achieved in 1971. The 1970 Trans Am series is regarded by most racing historians as the high water mark of American road racing. Every "pony car" manufacturer was represented with a factory team and top driving talent: Chevrolet had the Chaparral Chevy Camaro Z28 team with Jim Hall, Ed Leslie, and Vic Elford. Ford's Bud Moore Boss 302 Mustangs were driven by Parnelli Jones and George Follmer. For Plymouth, the All American Racing Cudas were handled by Dan Gurney and Swede Savage. Sam Posey, and occasionally Tony Adamowicz, drove Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics Challenger TA, Jerry Titus had the Pontiac TransAm, and Roger Penske's Sunoco AMC Javelin team starred Mark Donohue and Peter Revson.
Most of these cars have been preserved or restored and are still racing in vintage events today. The Historic Trans Am Group events often reunite drivers from the era to with the cars they raced in "back in the day".
The Two-Five Challenge
In 1969 the "U2" class was renamed when the engine displacement limit was increased to 2.5 litres. Porsche 911s and Alfa Romeo GTVs were dominant, later joined by the Datsun 510. Successful drivers included Peter H. Gregg, Horst Kwech, Bob Sharp, and John Morton. The Vintage Sedan Racers Group or VSRG is made up of vintage race drivers, car owners, car builders and enthusiast working together to bring the excitement of Trans-Am 2.5 and B-Sedan cars to vintage racing.
Rules evolved over the years, incorporating FIA touring and grand-touring classes as well as SCCA Club Racing classes. The different classes had restrictions placed on the allowed modifications in an effort to equalize competition between the different cars. In 1976, Trans-Am returned to the two category format, classifying FIA Group 4 and 5 cars as "Category II".
The Modern Era (1980 - 2006)
In 1980, the SCCA developed a weight-to-displacement ratio for handicapping cars. Five-liter, 2600 pound vehicles dominated the field. Soon, tube-frame cars would begin to appear on the grid, eventually becoming the standard for Trans-Am competitors as they discovered the well-designed and relatively affordable circle track chassis being built in Ed Howe's Beaverton, Michigan shop also made an excellent road racing chassis.
Roush Racing entered into Trans-Am competition in 1984. For the next six years Roush entries would dominate the series, winning 46 of the 83 races. This first decade also saw notable champions such as Wally Dallenbach, Jr. (1985 and 1986), Scott Pruett (1987), Hurley Haywood (1988), and Dorsey Schroeder (1989).
In 1988, after years of rallying, Audi would enter the series with the 200 turbo quattro via the services of Bob Tullius's Group 44 Racing. As usual the car ran their trademark Quattro system. However this did not run without controversy as the car, piloted by Haywood and with both Walter Röhrl and Hans Joachim Stuck sharing duties, steamrollered the opposition taking eight out of thirteen wins. As Audi would defect to IMSA by the end of the season, the SCCA would change the regulation to a two wheel drive only and banning cars with non American engines from taking part. The Historic Trans-am & IMSA Group is dedicated to the preservation of the cars that ran in the SCCA Trans-am series and the similar IMSA GTO class from 1980 until 1991. The variety of cars in these classes ran the gamut from turbo charged 4 cylinder Merkurs to Corvettes with 358 cu in. V-8’s.
In the nineties Tommy Kendall, in a Ford, was the driver to beat- he would take four driver's championships in this decade. Chevrolet was also prominent in this time period, with 6 drivers' champions in their cars.
Paul Gentilozzi rose to the fore beginning in 1998 with his first championship in Trans-Am. He would win four more championships, his latest in 2006, driving a Chevrolet, Ford, and Jaguar. These latter years also saw more marques enter the field, with exotics such as the Panoz Esperante, Qvale Mangusta and Jaguar XKR. Later in the 2004 season, a Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR raced with a production-based 4.5 liter 650 hp DOHC AJ-V8. A 2006 season seemed unlikely until late in the year when a short two race season was run with both races taking place at Heartland Park Topeka. Fields were shored up by a makeshift assortment of SCCA GT-1 class amateur racers in town for the National Championship Runoffs later that week.
It was announced on December 11, 2008 that Trans Am would be returning in 2009.
March 21-22 — Road Atlanta
April 17-19 — Virginia
May 15-17 — Mosport
May 30-31 — Mid Ohio
June 12-14 — Portland
July 11-12 — Watkins Glen
September 19-20 — Road America
Year Champion Driver Car
1966* Horst Kwech
Gaston Andrey Alfa Romeo GTA
1967* Jerry Titus Ford Mustang
1968* Mark Donohue Chevrolet Camaro
1969* Mark Donohue Chevrolet Camaro
1970* Parnelli Jones Ford Mustang
1971 Mark Donohue AMC Javelin
1972 George Follmer AMC Javelin
1973 Peter H. Gregg Porsche 911
1974 Peter H. Gregg Porsche 911
1975 John Greenwood Chevrolet Corvette
1976 Jocko Maggiacomo (Cat 1) AMC Javelin
George Follmer (Cat 2) Porsche 934
1977 Bob Tullius (Cat 1) Jaguar XJS
Ludwig Heimrath (Cat 2) Porsche 934
1978 Bob Tullius (Cat 1) Jaguar XJS
Greg Pickett (Cat 2) Chevrolet Corvette
1979 Gene Bothello (Cat 1) Chevrolet Corvette
John Paul, Sr. (Cat 2) Porsche 935
1980 John Bauer Porsche 911
1981 Eppie Wietzes Chevrolet Corvette
1982 Elliott Forbes-Robinson Pontiac Firebird
1983 David Hobbs Chevrolet Corvette
1984 Tom Gloy Mercury Capri
1985 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Mercury Capri
1986 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. Merkur XR4Ti
1987 Scott Pruett Merkur XR4Ti
1988 Hurley Haywood Audi 200 Quattro Turbo
1989 Dorsey Schroeder Ford Mustang
1990 Tommy Kendall Chevrolet Beretta
1991 Scott Sharp Chevrolet Camaro
1992 Jack Baldwin Chevrolet Camaro
1993 Scott Sharp Chevrolet Camaro
1994 Scott Pruett Chevrolet Camaro
1995 Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang
1996 Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang
1997 Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang
1998 Paul Gentilozzi Chevrolet Camaro
1999 Paul Gentilozzi Ford Mustang
2000 Brian Simo Qvale Mangusta
2001 Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR
2002 Boris Said Panoz Esperante
2003 Scott Pruett Jaguar XKR
2004 Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR
2005 Klaus Graf Jaguar XKR
2006* Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR
note: 1966 through 1970 and 2006 championships were not official SCCA driver champions
Five Liter Class
Chevrolet Camaro 1967-72
Pontiac Firebird 1968-72
Chevrolet Nova 1970
Chevrolet Corvair 1966
Pontiac Tempest 1964
Ford Motor Company
Ford Mustang 1966-72
Mercury Cougar 1967-70
Ford Falcon 1966
Dodge Challenger 1970
Plymouth Barracuda 1966-70
Dodge Dart 1966-70
AMC Javelin 1968-72
Rambler American 1967
Two Liter Class
Lotus Cortina 1966-72
Mini Cooper 1966-72
Ford Anglia 1967
Sunbeam Imp 1966-67
Ford Escort 1970-72
Triumph Vitesse 1971
British Leyland 1969
Porsche 911 1967-69
BMW New Class 1966-72
Opel Kadett 1966 & 1972
Volkswagen Beetle 1966-67 & 1972
NSU Prinz 1966-70
Alfa Romeo GTA 1966-72
Lancia Fulvia 1967-68
Fiat Abarth 1000 1966-72
Fiat 124 1972
Alfa Romeo GTV 1970
Saab 96 1966
Saab 850 1966
Volvo 122 1966-70
Volvo 544 1970
Volvo 142 1971-72
Honda 600 1966
Datsun 510 1970-72
Toyota 1600 1972
Hino Contessa 1966
Ford Pinto 1971-72
Ford Capri 1972
Renault Dauphine 1966 & 1970
Simca 1000 1966
Renault R8 1968
Audi 200 Quattro Turbo
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Pontiac Grand Prix
Historic Trans Am: http://www.trans-amseries.com/
Trans Am Racing History DVD: http://www.transamdvd.com
Official website: http://www.sccatrans-am.com/