This morning’s news comes out of the Trans Am paddock, where it has been announced that four time T/A series champion Tommy Kendall will be returning to the iconic racing series, at the wheel of a bright green Dodge Challenger SRT in the TA2 category. The first outing for the Miller Racing prepared Challenger will be this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
The timing is perfect to put guys like Paul Tracy, Tony Stewart, Montoya and even Villeneuve in to showroom based cars. Mustang, Camaro, Challenger: all are back (or still) in showrooms. Bring on BMW’s 1 series and Nissan’s 370Z for a bit of nostalgic spice to the group. Run the cars in a showroom stock configuration again so the fans can relate. Think those drivers above won’t add enough excitement? How about bringing in guys like Michael Andretti, Little Al, David Donohue to add in a bit more historic star power? If memory serves, I think Unser may have driven the tubie cars at some point in the Eighties. The time couldn’t be better for auto manufacturers to be involved in a series like this. Indeed they could once again benefit from Win on Sunday….
I wrote those words back in 2008, when the T/A series had just been re-launched after a bit of a hiatus. Six years later, it looks like they are finally beginning to pull the package together.
The T/A folks are understandably chuffed to have the entry in the field for a number of reasons. Kendall spent some time away from the driver’s seat and while he may not offer the immediate name recognition as a driver with a name like Andretti, many younger fans know his personality as a motorsport color commentator and host of a few television shows on Speed, which certainly gives the driver more star power than anyone else in the field.
Perhaps even more notable is the fact that while Kendall’s Challenger is being prepared by Miller Racing, it is an official SRT Motorsports entry. That means that there is once again a manufacturer involved in Trans Am racing!
This is not the first time this season that the series has seen a bit of star power however, as Canadian racing legend Ron Fellows got behind the wheel of one of Jim Derhaag’s Corvettes for the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park round in May. As one of the owners of the famed Mosport circuit, Fellows knows a thing or two about the track. The race was simply a celebration of Trans Am and an opportunity for Fellows to show that he has still got it. What it did more than anything though was show how shallow the talent pool in the series is, as Fellows did more than just run away with the race. He obliterated the field. The Mayor of Mosport built enough of a lead that he drove the last two laps on a flat tire and second place still couldn’t catch him. Ever the gentleman however, Fellows stopped short of lapping the field.
What is most interesting about the Kendall/SRT/Miller entry is that they are contesting the second tier TA2 category, which seems to offer stiffer competition. Also, while the cars in this class are still tube-frame floppy body cars, they closely resemble production Challengers, Mustangs and Camaros. Also of interest in the TA2 class is a competitor with the name Andretti. Adam, who races a Camaro, is the brother of John Andretti and Mario’s nephew.
My gut tells me that Kendall will sweep the TA2 category this weekend at Mid-Ohio. What is less than certain is what the fallout from that will be. Will Chevrolet and Ford sit back and let the Dodge Boys have their day, or do they consider the history of Trans Am too important to allow Dodge to rule the series? It would be pretty exciting to see all three manufacturers, along with some big names, on track in 2015.
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