Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
Contact Adam: Email
CrowdStrike Racing celebrated its return to SRO America competition in the best way possible: its first victory in GT World Challenge Powered by AWS.
George Kurtz and Colin Braun claimed a win in Sunday’s 90-minute, two-driver endurance race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) – the first victory for CrowdStrike with Mercedes-AMG in SRO America’s highest category of racing. Not only did they claim victory in the Pro/Am class, they were the overall winners as well against top-level competition.
The result capped a fantastic return to racing for CrowdStrike – a competitor in three SRO America categories and the Official Internet & Cloud Security Provider for GT World Challenge.
Virginia International Raceway was the site of the program’s first motorsports event in more than four months. The SRO weekend took place with CrowdStrike Racing and all series participants supporting and adhering to strict local, state and federal guidelines on medical screening, social distancing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
GT WORLD CHALLENGE AMERICA POWERED BY AWS
Kurtz and Braun celebrated their landmark first victory together after a tough and tense battle Sunday. After Braun started the No. 04 from first in class, Kurtz roared across the finish line holding on to his 0.226s lead ahead of the second place car after a late-race, full-course caution bunched up the field for the final 12 minutes of the race.
"First off, I have to thank DXDT Racing and Mercedes-AMG for such a great CrowdStrike/AWS Mercedes-AMG GT3,” said Kurtz, a veteran champion of SRO competition. “Colin did a fantastic job, and that combined with the great pit stop from DXDT Racing gave me a big lead that I was able to extend. I saw one of the Porsches stopped on the back straight and knew we were going to have a restart and the fight was going to be on. With a couple minutes left, I had to buckle down and focus on pulling a gap over second place and got it done. It's a special win today with Colin."
Braun began from first in the Pro-Am class and a second overall position after a strong Saturday qualifying effort and held the lead for the first 50 minutes. He pulled into the pitlane for the race’s mandatory stop for fuel, new Pirelli tires and a driver change to Kurtz.
Embracing the mantra of making every second count, the DXDT Racing crew got Kurtz out of the pitlane with the quickest stop of the race and less than a second above the minimum allowed pit stop time.
The crew’s quick pitwork allowed Kurtz to build a lead of more than 11 seconds before a full-course caution with a full 15 minutes left to race. Suddenly, Kurtz’s hard-earned lead disappeared as the rest of the field lined up behind him for the restart. The pressure of leading by such a small margin didn’t faze Kurtz, who put together quick lap after quick lap to take the checkered flag for the whole team.
"This is super special for CrowdStrike and DXDT Racing,” Braun said. “Seeing how the race unfolded, we obviously had a good gap before the yellow came out. It fell back on George's shoulders to really push hard there at the end. To see him finish off that race like he did... he didn't just get in and have a big gap to the finish. He had to earn it. “Every Second Counts, like CrowdStrike says. It's really cool to see him drive at that level. Seeing him execute like that was super special. Our CrowdStrike/AWS Mercedes-AMG was hooked up all weekend and was fast in all our practices. This was a real team effort and a special day."
Kurtz and Braun suffered a double bout of misfortune in the opening 90-minute race Saturday. After running in podium position from sixth earlier in the day, the No. 04 CrowdStrike Mercedes-AMG just missed claiming a trophy. The day began tough for Kurtz, who went off-track to avoid a spinning car while trying to set his best qualifying time.
Another issue in the race set the Mercedes-AMG back in the order, as did an extra pit stop shortly after the mandatory driver change. Despite being a lap down, Braun posted the two best times in the race to show the pace of the CrowdStrike Mercedes-AMG.
In Touring Car America competition, CJ Moses (TCR) and Kevin Boehm (TCA) returned to the track in Honda Performance Development Civic entries at VIR. Both were looking to pick up where they left off following solid starts to the season in March at Circuit of The Americas.
The two drivers showed impressive pace in practice and qualifying at VIR. Moses qualified fourth in TCR for the first race with the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Racing HPD Civic Type R TCR. Boehm, meanwhile, started third in his No. 9 CrowdStrike/AWS HPD Civic Si for the TCA category.
“It was great to be back racing, especially at my favorite track, VIR,” Moses said. “Three races on a weekend is a big challenge in the heat and conditions we all faced. Thanks to everyone at CrowdStrike, AWS and DXDT Racing for a competitive HPD Civic Type R TCR. These were some of the fastest laps I’ve ever turned at VIR. It was great fun.”
The speed of both CrowdStrike Civics remained evident in the early going before both Moses and Boehm experienced mechanical issues that impacted their finishing positions. Moses encountered an engine intercooler issue and electrical gremlins while an engine cooling issue delayed Boehm.
Those problems affected Friday’s race and as a result, the starting positions for each driver in Saturday’s round. Boehm fell back to sixth in TCA at the start but rebounded to finish fourth while Moses was seventh as the race ended under full-course caution as issues continued to impact the performance of both drivers.
Not to be deterred, both drivers came out Sunday with what appeared to be CrowdStrike Civics at full strength. It showed as both Moses and Boehm were able to race and dice with their competitors and were turning their fastest laps of the weekend… until another full-course caution came out with 14 minutes left.
Boehm finished just off of the podium with a third straight fourth-place finish while Moses placed sixth.
“We were all looking for great results in our first race back in TC America,” Boehm said. “Our CrowdStrike/AWS HPD Civic felt pretty solid early on. Unfortunately, we had a hard time keeping the car cool throughout a really tough and sweltering weekend. While that was disappointing, I’m really happy to be back on the track representing CrowdStrike and AWS. This first-year TCA program has a lot of potential and the support has been great. I’m looking forward to getting back to the track again at Sonoma for CrowdStrike’s home race and putting on a great show for all our supporters. I want to give a special thank you to Chad from Operation Motorsport - it was great to have him as part of our team.”
CrowdStrike, AWS and Boehm Racing were proud to continue their support of the Operation Motorsport Program at VIR with Army Staff Sgt. Chad Failing being embedded with the team and assisting the No. 9 CrowdStrike/AWS HPD Civic Si, just as he was at Circuit of The Americas in March.
Staff Sgt. Failing served more than 10 years on active duty and served two combat tours. Among his deployments were in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea. At VIR, Staff Sgt. Failing helped Kevin Boehm and his HPD as mechanic and team assistant. His help proved valuable on one of the hottest and longest weekends SRO competitors will face this year.
Operation Motorsport is a veteran-led and -operated, 501(c)3 Not for Profit, based in Brighton, Ontario, and Raleigh, North Carolina that serves Canadian and American service members and veterans. The program was founded on the basis of three simple words: Excite, Engage and Empower. The premise is to engage ill and injured Service Members and veterans affected by military service, through motorsport activities to aid in their recovery and rehabilitation. Chad’s participation with Boehm Racing was a valuable experience for all.
NEXT STOP: SONOMA
The next event for SRO America and CrowdStrike Racing is next month’s home race at Sonoma Raceway. And what a weekend it promises to be!
Sponsored by CrowdStrike, the SRO America weekend in Northern California will take on a different look for CrowdStrike and its guests. Plans are underway for virtual in-race entertainment and interactive events that will allow for greater participation from those away from the track.
The goal is still the same: showcase to competitors and guests alike the wide array of methods that CrowdStrike protects and promotes its involvement in SRO. To start, CrowdStrike is on the front lines of cyber protection with its Falcon platform to secure all data generated and stored by SRO.
Additionally, CrowdStrike VIPs and guests will continue to enjoy new and exciting ways of interacting with each other and the racing program once at Sonoma Raceway. That includes presentations by CrowdStrike leadership and industry thought leaders and Q&A with CrowdStrike Racing team members and drivers.
As the racing season is effectively re-launched, so too is CrowdStrike Racing’s online brand presence. The new website, crowdstrikeracing.com, offers fans, staff, and partners a richly immersive experience with new videos, dedicated event pages, and links to stream live SRO races right from the website. More photos, press releases, and features will be added throughout the race season.
Friday’s Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders provided a thrilling start to the new Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season as Singapore’s Danial Frost and Russian Artem Petrov shared the pair of race victories.
Frost produced a stunning comeback in the opener, fighting his way from last to claim a memorable first-ever win for Turn 3 Motorsport, while Petrov was equally impressive for Juncos Racing en route to snaring his maiden Road to Indy checkered flag later in the afternoon.
Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco also shone during his North American debut. After competing with distinction in Europe and Asia over the course of the past four years, DeFrancesco had to settle for second after leading virtually throughout the first race, then added a solid fourth-place finish in Race Two.
The action-packed day began with Frost posting the fastest time in the lone qualifying session held in damp but drying conditions. It came as no surprise after the second-year Indy Pro 2000 racer had led the way in testing yesterday and headed last week’s pre-season test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. But his euphoria didn’t last long. Instead he was banished to the back of the 16-car grid after his car failed post-qualifying technical inspection.
Undaunted, Frost produced a mesmerizing performance as he blitzed his way into fourth position inside just three laps. Nor did he stop there. Road to Indy veteran Parker Thompson (DEForce Racing) was his next victim, after nine laps, whereupon he quickly dispatched Indy Pro 2000 debutant Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), from Homer Glen, Ill., for second place next time around.
By this point DeFrancesco had opened up a seemingly unassailable lead of 3.6 seconds after inheriting the Cooper Tires Pole Award on his Road to Indy debut. But Frost wasn’t finished. The gap came down steadily, inexorably, until the leading pair were separated by only a few car lengths as they sped onto their final lap of the 4.014-mile gem of a race track that is knows as “America’s Park of Speed.”
DeFrancesco clung onto his narrow lead through each of the 14 turns, only for Frost to make a perfect exit to the final corner to begin a drag race to the checkered flag. Frost timed his run to perfection, inching alongside as the two cars raced up the hill, then nosing ahead mere yards before the checkered flag to win by a scant 0.0556 of a second.
Frost secured the Tilton Hard Charger Award, in addition to snaring a first PFC Award for Peter Dempsey as the winning team owner.
Kaminsky rounded out the podium after the unfortunate Thompson retired with a mechanical problem in the closing stages. Last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Champion Braden Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, battled some handling difficulties to finish fourth, just ahead of Indy Pro 2000 veteran Sting Ray Robb, from Payette, Idaho, who battled his way from 15th on the grid after an issue in qualifying.
Mexican rookie Manuel Sulaiman rounded out the field in 16th after a mid-race pit stop to replace a damaged rear wing. Crucially, though, his DEForce team also took the opportunity to bolt on a set of fresh Cooper Tires, which Sulaiman used to excellent effect by posting the fastest lap of the race which also meant he would start Race Two from the coveted pole position.
Despite starting the year as one of the title favorites, Thompson’s day went from bad to worse as he was involved in an incident with New Zealander Hunter McElrea (Pabst Racing) just a few seconds after the start. Both were eliminated from the race, which was immediately neutralized by a full-course caution.
Frost, who started second, drafted past Sulaiman to take the lead at the restart. He was chased by Petrov, who also had hit problems during the opening race but started third for the second encounter.
Frost’s hopes of sweeping the opening day were dashed when Petrov drafted past into the lead, then began to edge clear. Sulaiman settled into third, with Robb completing a four-car train when the caution flags waved briefly again following a spin by FatBoy Racing’s Charles Finelli.
Petrov marshaled himself for the restart, timed it perfectly, and drove comfortably to the victory. This time it was Robb who provided the final flurry of activity, overtaking Frost with three laps remaining to match his career-best finish of second.
Frost followed by in third, narrowly ahead of DeFrancesco, who earned the Tilton Hard Charger Award after starting from ninth on the grid. Eves posted the fastest lap of the race in the closing stages as he wrested fifth position away from Kaminsky two laps from the finish. Sulaiman slipped down the order after spinning at Turn One.
Ricardo Juncos pocketed the final PFC Award of the day as the winning car owner.
After an extremely competitive first weekend of the season, next on the docket for the Indy Pro 2000 contenders is a triple-header event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 29/30.
Christian Rasmussen began the new Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship season in perfect style by dominating today’s USF2000 Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders. A race winner three times during his rookie campaign in 2019, the recently turned 20-year-old from Copenhagen, Denmark, more than lived up to his preseason expectations by taking a clean sweep of 65 points for the Jay Howard Driver Development team.
The Cape Motorsports pair of Josh Green, from Mount Kisco, N.Y., and long-time friend Michael d’Orlando, from Hartsdale, N.Y., claimed a runner-up placing apiece. Top rookie Green followed up his second-place result in the opening race by taking third in Race Two, while second-generation Brazilian racer Eduardo Barrichello rounded out the podium in the opening race for locally based Pabst Racing.
Rasmussen began his perfect day by blitzing the field and claiming the Cooper Tires Pole Award by more than a full second in this morning’s lone qualifying session, held in wet but drying conditions. He followed up by making not the hint of an error during a scrappy opening 12-lap race which was interrupted by no fewer than three full-course cautions.
The drama began on the opening lap when second-year USF2000 drivers Reece Gold (Cape Motorsports), from Miami, Fla., and Nolan Siegel (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Palo Alto, Calif., came together in Turn Seven while running comfortably inside the top 10.
Rasmussen nailed his restart to perfection, while behind him Green forged past Californian Christian Brooks (Exclusive Autosport) for second. But at the completion of just one more lap, Canadian rookie Nico Christodoulou embedded his DEForce Tatuus USF-17 into the gravel trap at Turn 14 to neutralize the field one more time.
Green kept the pressure on Rasmussen when the race resumed again with six laps in the books, although what appeared to be brewing into an exciting contest once again was brought to an early conclusion when Jack William Miller (Miller Vinatieri Motorsports) found the gravel trap at Turn Seven.
Rasmussen therefore took the checkered flag under caution, followed by Green and locally based Pabst Racing teammates Eduardo Barrichello, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Matt Round-Garrido, who had exchanged places a couple of times during the course of the race.
d’Orlando finished fifth ahead of Christian Bogle (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Covington, La., who moved up well from his 14th starting position. Even more impressive progress was made by Australian Cameron Shields (Legacy Autosport), who secured the Tilton Hard Charger Award after qualifying a lowly 17th. Brooks slipped back to eighth at the finish while fighting severe understeer.
Race Two also ended under caution when Canadian rookie Josh Pierson (Exclusive Autosport) encountered a problem in Turn One. But that didn’t detract from another fine effort by Rasmussen, who once again started from the pole position by virtue of posting the fastest lap in the earlier race.
One slight slip from Rasmussen enabled Green to lead one lap in the early stages, but he quickly reasserted himself and extended his margin to more than seven seconds prior to the late caution.
Green, d’Orlando, Barrichello and Round-Garrido enjoyed an entertaining scrap for the minor placings before splitting themselves into a pair of intra-team battles. Green held second place for most of the way until d’Orlando grasped the position moments before the caution flags waved with two laps remaining. Behind, Round-Garrido narrowly held off Barrichello for fourth.
Shields finished sixth after an entertaining midfield battle, while Gold secured the Tilton Hard Charger Award after fighting his way all the way through to seventh after starting from the back of the field following his earlier incident.
Rasmussen’s day ended with a pair of PFC Awards for car owner Jay Howard and a handy championship lead over Green as the series heads next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for a triple-header on July 29/30.
Mike Skeen pulled away on a late restart and went on to win Sunday’s Ryan Companies US presents the Jep Copham Tribute Weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. The victory is the second of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2® Powered by AEM season for the Stevens-Miller driver, who opened 2020 with a win at Sebring International Raceway.
A late caution for the stopped No. 37 Big Machine Vodka Ford Mustang of Edward Sevadjian set up a nine-lap sprint to the finish. Skeen got the jump on three competitors, who lost ground during a heated back-and-forth battle for second, and went on to take the checkered flag 2.038-seconds ahead of Thomas Merrill, who was closely pursued by Rafa Matos and Scott Lagasse Jr.
“The race couldn’t have gone much better,” said Skeen, who collected his third career Trans Am victory. “It was a little messy at the start going three-wide into Turn 2, but I backed off because I knew I had a good race car and didn’t want to mess it up early. I ran behind Thomas (Merrill) for a bit, and we were able to get a gap on the cars behind us. When I finally found a gap, I went for it and took the lead. It feels really good to come back and rebound from Mid-Ohio.”
Skeen won the pole in the No. 77 Liqui Moly Turn 14 Chevrolet Camaro, but was beaten out at the green flag when third-starting Lagasse snuck between the front row starters to take the lead. Lagasse led the opening four circuits before a brief off-course excursion in Turn 14 dropped him to fourth.
Thomas Merrill, provisional winner of the most recent race at Mid-Ohio, capitalized on Lagasse’s misfortune to lead 10 laps, although closely pursued by Skeen before finally yielding the lead.
“The race was great,” Merrill said. “It was a learning experience on how long the car would last and how well the tires would do. I was happy to see the caution coming out and it put me back in striking distance. But Rafa and Scott made that more difficult than we planned. My Wilwood brakes really came in handy today.”
On the final restart, Matos managed to pull alongside Merrill in the fight for second, with light contact. While Merrill held the position, Lagasse managed to pull ahead of Matos. But not for long. Going wheel-to-wheel with his fellow Floridian in Turn 4, Matos regained the position. The quick pass saw Matos collect the Cool Shirt ‘Cool Move of the Race.’
“I was pushing very hard in the last few laps,” said Matos. “I knew Lagasse wanted to go for that third spot. I am a little disappointed I didn’t have the pace to go for the win. I felt that in the first two days in practice and qualifying, we had the car, but we missed a little bit today. We remained consistent and collected some points. That's what it takes to win a championship."
Lagasse managed a pair of impressive passes at the start and on the restart, but was unable to capitalize in his fourth-place finish in the No. 92 M1 Racecars Camaro.
“At the start, the cars in front of me didn't get going and two of them got to fighting and dragging each other down, which left me a nice little hole,” Lagasse said. “It was more than I was expecting. But I just screwed up today. I should have trusted myself on the setup and made changes before the race. I just missed it, and drove it off the race track, wheel hopped the track bad. It's my first time here and the car is in one piece. We will take it and go, but we didn't show what we are capable of."
Cameron Lawrence started mid-pack after hitting the wall in Saturday qualifying. He then was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start. Putting his head down, the 2017 Brainerd TA winner worked his way through the field to finish fifth in the No. 8 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang.
Young star Jett Noland finished sixth in the Nolands Roofing/Cypress Hunting Ford Mustang, followed by a pair of series’ debutants, Travis Cope in his father’s No. 26 Mike Cope Racing Mustang, and Dylan Archer in the No. 22 ForgeLine Wheels Camaro.
Tim Gray was the Masters Class winner in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Mustang. The native of nearby Eden Prairie, Minnesota, learned to race at what was then known as the Donnebrook Road Course. He now has 33 Trans Am starts, with six class victories.
“The race was clean and everyone stayed clean,” said Gray, who finished 13th overall. “It was good but long. Brainerd is kind of my home track. This is where I started racing.”
The exciting event featured a number of off-course excursions. All were able to continue with the exception of Sevadjian, who could not continue with a mechanical problem.
By downloading the app, fans can access Trans Am content. Fans can watch the live stream of the races, the replays, follow their favorite drivers through the field by switching from six different camera angles, access live timing and scoring, keep up with the latest news and download the event program all from the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App. (https://bit.ly/2Z9IJKq)
Tomy Drissi took advantage of Ernie Francis Jr.’s mid-race misfortune to win Sunday’s Ryan Companies presents the Jed Copham Tribute Weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. The victory marked Drissi's ninth overall Trans Am win (four in the West Coast Series, five in the National series) in Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli competition.
Francis Jr. pulled to an 18.6-second lead in a bid for a third-consecutive triumph in 2020 while Drissi was involved in a terrific battle with Amy Ruman for second. That proved to be the fight for the win, as Francis went out with mechanical problems shortly after Drissi passed Ruman for second.
“I was patient today,” said Drissi, whose last victory was a Watkins Glen in 2018. “Burtin Racing gives me a lot of confidence. We would not be as fast without Lucas Oil Slick Mist. It’s great to be P1 at Brainerd. I am sorry that Ernie had the misfortune. It has been 10 years since I was here, and they have done a wonderful job, it looks amazing. It was like Jed (Copham) was riding along with me in the car. I finished second last time I was here, so it is great to be on top!”
For lap after lap, Ruman in the No. 23 McNichols Company Corvette managed to hold off her long-time rival. Drissi managed to get by in the Cloverleaf Corner on the 19th lap to put the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro. Losing her power steering in the closing laps, Ruman still finished second, 46.612 seconds back.
“It was a good battle with Tomy,” Ruman said. “I wish were had more mid-race and at the end. We lost power steering and a lot of grip. Giving Jed a tribute was our pleasure today.”
Moments after Drissi passed Ruman, Francis Jr. went off course twice in three corners with a problem with the No. 90 One South Florida Ford Mustang. He limped to the pits, but his day was over.
“I thought I had a tire going down, so I radioed the crew,” Francis Jr. said. “Then I knew it was the suspension as soon as I got on the brakes. I almost put it in the pit wall. But at least we showed our speed out there today.”
Simon Gregg rounded out the podium in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro, holding off Humaid Al Masaood by .905-seconds after the No. 21 Amamos LaVida Tequila Mustang challenged him throughout the event.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Gregg said. “The Camaro drives nice and fast. I’m glad to finish on the podium today, and I look forward to coming back here.”
Masaood’s teammate, Chris Dyson, challenged Ruman and Drissi during the opening laps, but threw the drive line on lap nine and was out of the race.
Kerry Hitt earned top honors in the Trans Am Masters Class, driving the No.19 Advanced Composite Products Inc Cadillac CTS-V. Hitt has decades of experience at Brainerd dating all the way back to 1989 racing against Trans Am racer turned Race Director Dorsey Schroeder.
Ken Thwaits led all the way in XGT, finishing fifth overall in the No. 5 Franklin Road Apparel Audi R8 GT3 Ultra. Second, two laps back and seventh overall, was Kevin Long in the team’s No. 15 Audi.
“It was kind of uneventful,” said Thwaits, winning for the first time in Trans Am. “Brainerd is a lot of fun, and the Audi loves it here. I just wanted to keep the mission – keep us off the dirty part and stay on the clean part. We showed up, and we got it done today. All the guys who missed the trip really missed out.”
Lee Saunders took the checkered flag in SGT, winning his second race of the year in the Sebring-winning No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper.
“At the start, Aaron was really pushing us, and raced us super clean,” said Saunders following his 10th career victory. “We came here with a car with problems, but the crew got it sorted out and got us up here.”
After breaking his harmonic balancer on his No. 96 F.A.S.T. Auto Ford Mustang during Thursday testing – and not having a spare – Adrian Wlostowski’s crew hustled his GT-1 Corvette 800 miles from New York City.
The F.A.S.T Auto Racing adapted the cars to SGT specs on Sunday morning. The work was worthwhile. Wlostowski came home second, matching his career-best finish from the most recent race at Mid-Ohio. Running without a cooling system, Wlostowski was rewarded for his efforts with the Cool Shirt Cool Move of the Race Award.
Aaron Pierce rounded out the SGT podium in the No. 26 Logical Systems/Sam Pierce Chevrolet Camaro.
Next up for Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will be a return to Road America on August 6-8 with the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Race Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDVLwTtZdC4
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series gets underway again this weekend at Sebring International Raceway. Fresh off of a coast-to-coast road trip to raise funds and awareness, Racing to End Alzheimer’s is eager to get back on the track with the names of 120 loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s emblazoned on the #80 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4. In addition to providing a poignant tribute, it is also the primary way that Racing to End Alzheimer’s raises money to fund the care and fund the cure.
Racing to End Alzheimer’s is a non-profit, and supporters can contribute $250 for the opportunity to put the name and hometown of a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s on the car. 100% of proceeds goes to organizations working to find a cure and to provide improved care. A matching donation from corporate sponsor Legistics doubles the amount of money to make an even bigger impact. Last year, Racing to End Alzheimer’s raised over $130,000.
While IMSA racing was on hiatus due to COVID-19, Racing to End Alzheimer’s founder Phil Frengs found a new way to get the word out. On the Road Again: The Ultimate Tour for the Cure was a two-week, 4,000-mile road trip from Florida to California that raised funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s. Frengs drove a BMW M4 that matches the race car, including all of the names. Along the way, Frengs presented checks to both the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Hospital and UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program.
On the Road Again was a great success, but Frengs is excited about getting back to the track. “It will be great to get back to racing. As the season returns, starting with Sebring, we look forward to the competition as well as the opportunity to interact with the racing community,” says Frengs. “The track is where we have had so many conversations about loved ones with the people we meet. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, all people who have had such an important influence on us, all victims of this scourge. We love and honor them when we put their names on the race car.”
Nick Galante and Dillon Machavern are the co-drivers of the #80 BimmerWorld BMW. The team gets the green flag along with the rest of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series field on Friday, July 17 at 2:30pm ET. Fans can watch the two-hour race live with Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold.
Following almost ten months of anticipation, preparation, lockdown, and limbo, the 2020 American Flat Track season is at last set to commence. The long-awaited opener will kick off the resurrected campaign in spectacular fashion with the first of a season of doubleheader events, the Volusia Half-Mile I & Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys on Friday, July 17, and Saturday, July 18, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.
The global pandemic that pushed back the season by four months has changed the world in any number of ways, including a heightened awareness of the safety precautions needed for spectators and participants alike. As a result, tickets will be available in limited numbers, there will be a pre-entry health screening to ensure fan safety, and enhanced sanitation and cleaning protocols will be followed.
While the practice of social distancing is highly encouraged outside the air fences, the action on track promises to be as close and intense as ever.
The dawn of the AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines era comes alongside a reconfigured schedule that features a heavy dosage of Half-Miles, starting AFT’s first-ever visit to Volusia Speedway Park for Rounds 1 & 2. That altered reality will force new Grand National Champion Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) to defend his #1 plate against a field stacked with heavy hitters who sense this season may be the best chance of their careers to earn the coveted title themselves.
It’ll be vitally important for Bauman to get out the gates quickly to reestablish himself as the rider to beat, especially considering the past three GNCs went to the winner of the season opener.
Bauman’s stiffest challenge will likely once again come from his fellow Indian Wrecking Crewmen. Future Hall of Famer Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) is angling to return to his commanding ways, while Briar’s younger brother, Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), seems primed to take the next step and emerge a genuine championship threat.
While the factory Indian Motorcycle squad has proven to be a series juggernaut in recent seasons, the series’ historic dominator enters the 2020 fight rebuilt, refocused, and more powerful than its been in years. Now overseen by title-winning crew chief Ricky Howerton, the Harley Factory Flat Track Team is loaded with talent. Former Grand National Champion Bryan Smith (No. 4 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X) spearheads the effort, flanked by the up-and-coming Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X) and supremely gifted rookie Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X).
Yamaha has a pair of aces of its own in 2019 two-race winner JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and ‘17 AFT Singles champ Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
In addition to the Wrecking Crew, Indian Motorcycle will again be represented by a deep bench of potential race winners on private FTR750s, including the likes of Brandon Robinson (No. 44 HCRR/Ben Evans Racing Indian FTR750) and Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing/Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750).
Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
The 2020 Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class is once again a wide-open affair with reigning champion Gaultier, ‘18 champ Dan Bromley (No. 62 Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750), and ‘17 champ Carlile all graduating to the AFT SuperTwins class for 2020.
The aforementioned schedule reshuffle should seriously elevate the title chances of the category’s all-time winningest rider, Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F). But even without a bevy of TTs to bring her back to the pack, Texter figures to be pushed to the brink by a pair of former premier class standouts in Mikey Rush (No. 14 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R).
Rush made his transition to AFT Singles competition a year ago with the RMR squad and came through in a huge way, scoring four wins and finishing as the championship runner-up, just six points removed from the title.
With Rush moving over to the Estenson Racing outfit for ‘20, his slot at RMR has been filled by Wiles. That’s a momenuntal development for the class’ balance of power, as Wiles -- who boasts the 2009 and 2010 GNC1 Singles crowns and 26 career premier-class victories aboard four-stroke singles -- is arguably the greatest single-cylinder racer in American Flat Track history.
While Texter, Rush, and Wiles have been doing the business at the sharp end for years, the class has historically been a venue for young riders to showcase their abilities at the professional level. And it will remain so in 2020 if 17-year-old prodigy Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) has anything to say about it. In just a half-season of competition, Daniels lit the class up in year ago, exploding onto the scene with a win, three podiums, and five top fives in the final seven races of ‘19.
AFT Production Twins
Reigning AFT Production Twins king Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) is back to defend his title. Texter opened his ‘19 campaign in scintillating form, tearing off three straight wins to start the year and then rode the wave of fast start to the throne.
He was pushed down the stretch by four challengers who each won two races apiece. While two of them, Gauthier and Carlile, have since moved on to the premier class, 2019 runner-up Ryan Varnes (No. 68 Varnes Racing/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) and fifth-ranked Chad Cose (No. Wally Brown Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) are back for another shot at the title.
The versatile James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) promises to be a factor as well. After successfully transitioning back to dirt track racing following a decade focused on pavement, Rispoli should only be that much stronger in 2020 with 2000 GNC Joe Kopp serving as his crew chief.
Safety has been placed at a premium and, toward those ends, AFT has worked closely with Volusia County health and government officials. For more on the specific precautions being taken at Rounds I & II, please view the event FAQ sheet.
While ticket sales are being limited to promote a safe atmosphere and allow for proper social distancing, fans looking to attend the highly anticipated 2020 American Flat Track doubleheader opener can purchase tickets for the Volusia Half-Mile I at store.americanflattrack.com and the Volusia Half-Mile II at store.americanflattrack.com.
General Admission tickets start at just $25, and, as always, kids 12 and under are admitted for free in the General Admission area with the purchase of an adult GA ticket. Additionally, fans who purchase both days in advance will be offered a multi-day discount, which takes $10 off each pair of Friday/Saturday General Admission tickets. Multiple upgraded ticket options are also available to choose from.
While the Premium and Reserved Hook-Up camping spaces have sold out, a limited number of General Admission weekend camping passes remain. Fans are encouraged to reserve their spots now at store.americanflattrack.com.
Gates will open for fans at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT on Friday and 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT on Saturday with the Main Event programs slated to begin shortly after 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT both nights. Live coverage of the entire weekend’s racing activities will be available on any device for less than $1 per event via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Live streaming for Friday, July 17 will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT) and Saturday, July 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT).
The Volusia Half-Mile I & Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys will air back-to-back on NBCSN on Thursday, July 23, starting at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT. The feature broadcasts will include exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and the expert commentary of AFT legend Chris Carr.
For more information on American Flat Track visit www.americanflattrack.com.
To get the latest American Flat Track clothing and merchandise visit www.americanflattracker.com
This will be Trans Am’s 29th visit to the road course and drag racing facility that opened in 1968, and first race since 2017.
Copham purchased the complex in 2006. A hands-on owner, he made improvements to both the facility and the racing program. Copham was instrumental in the return of Trans Am to the circuit in 2010. The series headlined the circuit’s road racing through 2017, running two races in both 2011 and 2012.
Copham began racing in high school as a reward from his father, Dave Copham, for making good grades. Jed began drag racing at Brainerd with a 1931 Ford Model A, and soon moved to road racing. He ran in three Trans Ams at his own course. He started sixth and finished fifth in 2013, driving Jim Derhaag’s Corvette. He ran an Archer Camaro in 2014, placing 11th in TA2. He ran his own Corvette in 2016, starting eighth and finishing 11th. Jed towed his Corvette to Daytona for the 2017 TA finale. He was 10th in final practice but was eliminated from the event due to crashing late in the session. Jed lost his life in a swimming accident while vacationing in Florida in late 2018 at the age of 46.
“Jed was a true racing enthusiast whether model car, motorcycle, snowmobile, Formula Enterprise, Radical, TA or the 1931 Ford Model A Street Rod. But much more than that, because of his mechanical inclination and ability, he was always available to assist others, whether competitors or teammates," said Dave Copham. "It wouldn’t matter, Jed was always available, often putting everyone at BIR ahead of his own needs. He is truly missed. His mom Cheryl and I along with his family, Kristi, Alyssa and Ayden and his sister Kristen Mae and fiancé Robert ask you to join us in pausing this weekend to remember what a great friend and leader he was. He is in our hearts forever."
Originally known as the Donnebrooke Road Course, the very wide 10-turn, 3.1-mile circuit first hosted Trans Am at the height of Golden Years. Parnelli Jones won the opener in 1969 in Bud Moore’s Mustang. Privateer Milt Minter scored a major upset in 1970, winning in a Camaro, while Roger Penske Javelins won in 1971 (Mark Donohue) and 1972 (George Follmer). After a two-year break, Trans Am returned to the rechristened Brainerd International Raceway in 1975, with Peter Gregg, Bob Tullius and Jerry Hansen among the winners over the next four years.
The circuit hosted Trans Am throughout the 1980s. Paul Newman scored his first professional triumph in 1982, winning from the pole and leading every lap in Bob Sharp’s Datsun 280ZX. Willy T. Ribbs won the following three years for Neil DeAtley and Jack Roush. Other winners included Greg Pickett (1986), Elliott Forbes-Robinson (1987) and Hans Stuck (1988). Irv Hoerr drove his Oldsmobile to victory in 1989, in what proved to be the final Trans Am at Brainerd for 21 seasons.
Copham returned Trans Am to his refurbished 2.5-mile, 13-turn layout in 2010. Tony Ave won the event, following up with victories in both 2011 races and the 2012 opener.
“I won four in a row there – to tie the record held by Mark Donohue and Darin Brassfield – and I was leading the fifth one but got a flat tire,” Ave recalled. “That was a heartbreaker. I’m glad the series is going back because the track likes us, and we were starting to get a pretty good following. I also grew up not too far from there, so it’s one of my favorite places. In the old days, we had a very long straightaway. Nowadays, we still have a wide-open turn one and almost wide-open turn two. That’s pretty exciting to do from a driver’s standpoint, and frankly, there’s some good passing places there. It’s a very tough place for a 100-mile race, so it’s definitely fun and great to be going back.”
Amy Ruman went on to win the second race in 2012, and also triumphed in 2015. Doug Peterson won in both 2013 and 2014, while Cameron Lawrence won the TA2® race in 2013 and scored his lone TA victory in 2017, the most recent race at the circuit.
"As the defending TA race winner at Brainerd, I’m hopeful this will give us the momentum we need to return to the top step of the podium," said Lawrence. "Mid-Ohio didn’t play in our favor but the team is working hard to prepare for Brainerd. I’m very excited to get back behind the wheel of the No. 8 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang."
Following a full day of testing on Friday, July 10, practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday. Highlighting the Sunday schedule are a 100-mile TA2® Powered by AEM race at 11:15 a.m. followed by a 100-mile race for TA, XGT, SGT and GT competitors starting at 1:35 p.m. (all times CT). Spectators are welcome and admission will be free.
By downloading the app, fans can access Trans Am content. Fans can watch the live stream of the races, follow their favorite drivers through the field by switching from six different camera angles, access live timing and scoring, keep up with the latest news and download the event program all from the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App (https://bit.ly/3dxc6Lg).
The Racers Group enthusiastically returns to racing after a 4-month hiatus at Virginia International Raceway this weekend. With just one race at COTA in the rearview mirror, team TRG cannot wait to have the rubber hit the road in Sprint and SprintX competition. As an added bonus, our drivers will get a chance to prove themselves and in make-up races for Sprint in St. Petersburg and SprintX in Long Beach.
TRG driver, Spencer Pumpelly, comes into VIR having finished second and fourth at COTA, and currently tied for 3rd place.[Watch COTA SPRINT race here] At the wheel of TRG’s #66 TRG /Lasalle Solutions Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, he will have an opportunity to sweeten his point standings on Sunday afternoon in the St. Petersburg Race 1 Makeup.
Meanwhile, SprintX TRG drivers Dr. Jim Rappaport and Derek DeBoer will be testing their mettle at VIR in TRG’s #17 TRG / FASTLIFE.TV / Silver State Consulting / Sierra Pacific Spine Institute / BRM Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. They, too, have an opportunity to make points on Sunday in the Long Beach Race Makeup.
TRG has a remarkable history at this track in Porsche, Pontiac, and Aston Martin. In 2006, the team finished a historic 1-2 finish in the 2006 Grand-Am VIR 400 with the Pontiac GTO’s. In 2008, the team finished 2nd in GT. In 2010, the team was victorious in GT and again in 2012 in GTC, all with Porsche. In 2014, TRG-AMR won the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship race in their Aston Martin V8 Vantage and in 2015 the team finished 2nd in GTD to take the championship lead for the hotly contested IMSA class. In 2017, the team took home top honors at VIR in PWC GT competition.
With the event happening behind closed doors, the push to watch the races via livestream is now available! Both races and qualifying will be streamed live YouTube.com/GTWorld
Additionally, the Sunday GT World Challenge America powered by AWS race will be live on CBS Sports Network.