Trans Am Series Announces New Leadership in Driver Orientation Program

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will be welcoming new leadership to its Driver Orientation Program in 2022. Following the upcoming retirement of Terry Earwood, who has managed the program since its inception, Ernie Becker will be at the helm of the curriculum, which aims to assist SVRA crossover drivers and series newcomers both on and off the racetrack. Becker, who is no stranger to the Trans Am paddock, participated in the series with Class Auto Motorsports as team manager, driver development coach and test driver from 2016 to 2018. 
 
The Southern California native has a long history on the racetrack, competing as a driver and serving as a driving instructor and driver coach. Becker has raced competitively in IMSA, Formula Vee, Formula Ford, The Pacific F-2000 series and a variety of SCCA events. He began a relationship with Skip Barber Racing School as an instructor in 1997, and has instructed at AMG Mercedes Benz Driving Academy International and North America, Lexus Performance Driving School, Allen Berg Racing School, the Porsche Experience Center, the BMW Performance Center and Jaguar Alive Professional Performance. He also has served as the North American Trackside Representative for Metalore, Inc.
 
“I am very proud to be working with the Trans Am Series,” said Becker. “I’ve raced and worked in the series before and really enjoyed my time there. Trans Am is the best kept secret in motorsports. The analog nature of the cars makes it a pure driver’s series, and the rules package keeps the racing competitive. It’s my job to acclimate new drivers to the series and teach them the fundamentals of performance and safety to allow them to achieve their racing goals.” 
 
“The Trans Am Driver Orientation Program is our way of acclimating drivers who are new to the series or returning after a long hiatus,” says outgoing program manager, Earwood. “If someone wants to race in Trans Am, they need to know how we do things. They need to learn the cars, the tracks, the rules and the flagging system. We are also a no-contact sport, so drivers who come from a series where on-track contact is allowed need to understand that we race clean here.” 
 
Earwood has a long history in motorsports, beginning in 1970 as a drag racer in Hemi Super Stocks, which he still races today. He also has an extensive history in road racing, winning an IMSA Grand Touring championship in 1996 and becoming the winningest driver in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. In 2010, Earwood was named BF Goodrich Motorsports Man of the Year, and in 2013, he won the BAJA Challenge Class championship. Professionally, Earwood has 37 years experience as an instructor at Skip Barber Racing School, and served as Chief Steward in SCCA and NARRA competition for various series from 2010 to 2016. Earwood was named Trans Am Series Competition Director in 2016, and since 2017 he has managed the Driver Orientation Program, while also serving as Assistant Chief Steward and driver coach in the series.
 
“I have mixed emotions about retiring from the Trans Am Driver Orientation Program, but I want to spend more time with my fiancée, boating and drag racing,” says Earwood, who has been inducted into the NHRA Southeast Division Drag Racing Hall of Fame and East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame. “I feel very blessed to have been a part of Trans Am and to have made a living in drag racing and road racing.”
 
To transition the role, Earwood will remain in charge of the Driver Orientation Program at the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, and both Earwood and Becker will work together at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta in March. Becker has worked alongside Earwood in the past as an instructor at Skip Barber Racing School.
 
“We are going to miss Terry a lot in the Trans Am paddock; he was a huge asset to me in my first season with Trans Am and he has a wealth of knowledge about the sport.” said Race Director David Hoots. “I’m very much looking forward to working with Ernie and seeing how he can take the Driver Orientation Program to the next level.”
 
“I believe in Trans Am,” said Becker. “There is certainly going to be a learning curve taking on this new role, but I am up to the challenge and think this is going to be really fun. Terry is a legend and he is leaving some big shoes to fill. He’s family to me. It’s up to me to take everything that he has built and expand upon that.”
 
The 2022 Trans Am Series season kicks off at Sebring International Raceway on February 24-27. 
Adam Sinclair