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About The Autoextremist

@PeterMDeLorenzo

Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established Autoextremist.com on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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Monday
Jul052010

FUMES

July 7, 2010



A disgrace to the sport.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 7/5, 5:00PM) Detroit.
Two weeks ago in "The Line" I had this to say about the current state of the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am Series:

"Is there anything more pathetic than the current iteration of the once historically significant and highly-regarded Trans-Am Series? The SCCA's obsession with keeping this series going just so they can blather on about having the 'longest running road racing series' (or whatever they call it) isn't doing any favors for anybody - not for the competitors, the fans or the glorious memories of when the series was great - which was a long, long time ago. There is just too much competition, especially with the ALMS GT2 class being as hot as it is right now. Memo to the SCCA: Mothball the Trans-Am. It's best to put it to sleep so as not to sully the memory of one of the greatest road racing series this country has ever seen. And unless you can convince at least four - count em', at least
four - manufacturers to make a three-year commitment to resurrect the series, then let it rest in peace."

Last Saturday Tony Ave won what the SCCA is insisting on calling a Trans-Am race at Lime Rock Park. Besides Ave there were four other competitors. That's right, a total of five entries made up the "field" for a Trans-Am race. And to make matters worse, two of the five entries didn't even finish the race. The SCCA is quietly going about its business pretending that this is perfectly acceptable, hoping that no one will notice what a flat-out disgrace this is to the memory of one of the greatest road racing series this country has ever produced, not to mention to the sport itself. Unfortunately it's a little too late for that, because everyone within earshot of the sport knows damn well what's going on and not only is it disgraceful, it's disgusting on top of it.

We all knew there was trouble when a press release came over the Internet on June 30th announcing that any current SCCA Club Racing GT-1 competitor who agrees to run at least two of the remaining five Trans-Am races would receive a free entry to the 2010 National Championship Runoffs at Road America on Sept. 20-26. Meaning that the SCCA was willing to blow-up its own "qualifying" requirement for the Runoffs if any GT-1 competitor was willing to run in two Trans-Am races. That's desperation, folks.

Well, it's time for the charade to stop. The powers that be in the SCCA need to understand that this isn't a case of gamely attempting to keep a great series alive, it's just the opposite in fact. What these people are doing is besmirching one of the greatest road racing legacies ever created on this continent, and every event that they stage in the name of "Trans-Am" is destroying that legacy one painfully embarrassing "race" at a time.

And whatever constitutes the so-called "vision" that the SCCA management is bringing to bear on this situation is inconsequential, because they're clearly over matched and the result is an ongoing train wreck that's contributing to a burgeoning debacle of incalculable proportion. Their thinking defies all logic, is woefully misguided, wildly inappropriate and utterly indefensible at this juncture.

The bottom line is that there's simply no glory in what they're doing and there is no nobility in carrying on this sham one more minute.

Let's leave the "glory days" of the peak of the Trans-Am series right where they belong: Tucked away in our memory banks with an occasional glimpse only fleetingly coming to life at a particularly well-attended vintage racing weekend.

It was another time and another glorious era. And the memories of that era - and the Trans-Am Series itself - deserve so much better.


 

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)

Kent, Washington, September, 20, 1970. Parnelli Jones waits in his Bud Moore Engineering-prepared factory Ford Mustang before the Kent 200 Trans-Am at the 2.25-mile Seattle International Raceway in Kent, Washington. That year Jones won at Laguna Seca, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Seattle, and Riverside, California, and his teammate, George Follmer, drove the No. 16 team car to victory at Loudon, New Hampshire. The team won six of eleven races in 1970 to help Ford win its third Trans-Am Manufacturer's Championship, this one by only a single point. Pitted against the factory Mustangs were Mark Donohue and Peter Revson in Penske Racing-prepared factory AMC Javelins (Donohue finished second to Jones in '70 after winning the '68 & '69 Championships for Chevrolet); Dan Gurney and Swede Savage (factory-supported Plymouth Barracudas); Sam Posey (Dodge Challenger) and Jim Hall, Ed Leslie and Vic Elford (factory-supported, Chaparral Cars-entered Chevrolet Camaros). Top independents Milt Minter, Maurice Carter and Tony DeLorenzo - all in Camaros - also competed that year. The battles teammates Jones and Follmer had with each other on the track were almost as fierce as the battles between Jones and Donohue, which were legendary as it was. The 1970 Trans-Am series remains the high-water mark in American road racing simply because it featured the finest drivers of the era in factory-supported cars with orders to win at all costs - or words to that effect. It was the most intense road racing this country has ever produced - or witnessed - and no quarter was asked and none was given. Bud Moore had the following to say in an interview conducted by Stan Creekmore for Ford back in 2003: "Parnelli was a heck of a competitor and still is. Follmer, he was a little different kind of person from Parnelli. He was a good competitor and the two got along well. Follmer knew he was number two and sometimes I know he thought Jones was getting better stuff. But, he won his share of races. We never gave Parnelli anything better, they both got the same equipment. Just the fact that we won races, sat on poles, set records...that made it all fun. I really wish I'd hung on to one of my pony cars. All that is left are the memories."



Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out ford.artehouse.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD

 


 

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