This weekend, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli heads to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, to compete on the 1.6 mile-infield road course for the very first time. As the longest-running professional road racing series in North America with a rich history of visiting some of the continent’s most storied tracks, it’s rare that Trans Am competitors get to race on a circuit for the very first time. While the series raced on the same raced property in 1985, at what was then called the St. Louis International Raceway, the facility has been completely renovated and competitors will be racing on a road course circuit that was constructed in 1997.
For the Gateway SpeedTour, the TA/XGT/SGT/GT classes will be joined by the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series for an exciting combination race on Saturday afternoon. Here are some Trans Am drivers’ thoughts on visiting World Wide Technology Raceway.
Chris Dyson, No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang – TA
“It’s always nice to go to new tracks. I think for us, certainly, it’s rare for us to get a brand-new track on the schedule. World Wide Technology Raceway has done a great job promoting events in the past. I’ve obviously watched oval races there. They say the place is pretty technical and demanding. Generally, when you do these tracks that are [road courses inside ovals], you have to get a car that can stop, turn and go. I think the GYM WEED car is going to be great out there. It’s an important round in the championship; we’re getting down to the home stretch, so every race matters a little bit more for us. I’m hopeful that we’ll go out and get a great race in. I have full confidence that the guys will give me a fast racecar.”
Looking to pad his series point lead, the two-time Trans Am champion is aiming for his fourth race win of the year at WWTR. Almost as much as the wheel-to-wheel challenge from his direct rivals in the headline TA class, Dyson will need to take care as he laps mixed classes with his No. 16 GYM WEED Ford Mustang over the course of Saturday’s 100-mile sprint race. In total, 29 cars, including those in the slower TA2 class, are scheduled to take the green flag on the 1.6-mile circuit that combines much of the banked oval with a tight six-turn infield section.
“I’m going for the win for sure. But I’m also keeping in mind that old racing adage that to finish first, first you must finish. The TA2 class is super competitive, and those guys are going to be having a hard race among themselves, fighting for their own championships. We have raced on track with both TA and TA2 classes before, and it's always action-packed and filled with more than a share of dicey moments, especially as we navigate a very short lap like WWTR. So, taking care in – and managing – the traffic will be at a great premium this weekend.
“Fortunately, between the optional test and regular practice sessions, we should have enough time to find the best balance. We are confident we have cured the electrical issue we had with our primary car two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, but for this weekend we will be bringing the spare car I used to finish second at the Glen. You need a car that can handle the G-loads on the banking but also can brake and put the power down well in the infield. If we have a good result this weekend I think that puts us in a very good position for our third straight Trans Am championship.”
Rafa Matos, No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang – TA2
“It’s a completely new racetrack for everybody, so I’m pretty excited just to learn about the track. Obviously, it’s a [road course and oval combination], and it’s always fun to drive around those. The speeds on this style of track is usually pretty high, so we should expect some good action from the TA2 class. I’ve never been to St. Louis as well, so it’s a new place I’m going to get to know and learn some of the cultural things about the city. Overall, I’m looking forward to going.”
Ben Maier, No. 75 Silver Hare Racing/Gel Blaster Chevrolet Camaro – TA2
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway because it’s new and it’s just a really cool track to be racing at. It’s going to be a new experience for everyone, and especially for me, because I’m still learning the cars, and every track is new for me, basically. I think this will be a really fun track to race at.”
Connor Zilisch. No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro – TA2
“I’m looking forward to going to World Wide Technology Raceway because I’ve watched a lot of races there in the past, whether it’s INDYCAR or NASCAR, recently. It looks like it provides pretty good racing on the oval, so to go there and compete on both an oval and a road course should be pretty cool.”
Nathan Herne, No. 29 CUBE 3/Berryman Ford Mustang – TA2
“I’m real excited for the next round at World Wide Technology Raceway. I got to spend a bit of time in Missouri racing dirt late models on the dirt track down there. I’ve met a lot of great people out there, so to get down to St. Louis and do some racing is going to be awesome fun. It’s an even playing field for everyone; no one’s been there before, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be an awesome weekend.”
The Trans Am Series will first hit the track at WWTR on Friday for testing and practice and will qualify and race on Saturday.
For tickets and information, please call WWTR at (618) 215-8888 or visit www.WWTRaceway.com. Follow @WWTRaceway on social media.