Doug Peterson, Cameron Lawrence and David Seuss all took home silverware in their respective classes after the conclusion of the first race of 2013 Trans Am Season at Sebring International Raceway. Bob Tullius, who won the first ever Trans Am race, which took place at Sebring International Raceway 46 years ago, gave the order to start the engines and the race was on.
The race began with Tony Ave in the #4 Lamers/PME Engines/RPX Chevrolet Corvette on pole, side by side with teammate Peterson, in the #87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette. He was quick to speed to a large lead, powering past Peterson and the rest of the TA field. He was followed by defending TA Champion Simon Gregg, driving the #1 Gregg Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, and Amy Ruman, in the #23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who both were quick to overtake Peterson.
The field then went under a full course yellow during the fourth lap in order to retrieve Pete Halsmer and the #12 Ctek/ Motorstate/ Northstar Battery Chevrolet Camaro. After three laps under yellow the field went back to racing and Peterson was quick to reclaim second place, passing both Gregg and Ruman. Meanwhile Ave once again built up a significant lead.
Then, during lap 12, the course once again went under yellow as TA competitor John Baucom and the #86 Baucom Motorsports/ Roadraceparts.com Ford Mustang caught fire. The blaze intensified and rescue was quick on the scene. Fortunately Baucom was retrieved and uninjured; however the race remained under yellow until lap 17.
After the green flag resumed racing, Ave, Peterson and Gregg held the top three spots in TA, while the 20-year-old Lawrence, and rookies Robert Huffmaster, driver of the #27 Kryderracing/Virsec Chevrolet Camaro, and Tom West, in the #56 Limerick Machine Company/Ford Mustang, battled it out in the top three spots in TA2.
Come lap 23 of the race, Cliff Ebben, in the #36 McMahon Group/ Stumpf Ford Ford Mustang, had out maneuvered both Gregg and Ruman to claim third in the TA class. As racing continued Ave built up a sizable lead until lap 23 of the race when Ave and the #4 went off course.
“I was just cruising around and when I hit the brakes the car switched ends. After restarting the car I went to roll away and it just wouldn’t move. I heard the drive shaft going so I knew the transmission was ok. I was just about to put the clutch in and give up, but then it lurched forward on only one wheel. I thought it was a broken axle—but then the other wheel started spinning. They continued to be intermittent like that for the last three or four laps, so I could really only go half speed for the remainder of the race. At the end of the day, I think we broke a differential.”
Peterson, now in the lead, held up for the duration of the race, as did Ebben in the #36. Amy Ruman was able to over take Simon Gregg in the final laps of the race, powering herself into third. The three were able to hold position for the duration of the race, passing the checkered flag in that order.
The result gave Doug Peterson his third Trans Am victory, claiming the TA class for the second time at a season opener—Peterson claimed 2013’s opener, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“It seems like every time there’s a fire I win, every time it’s the first race of the season, I win," said Peterson. “But I love this track. It’s my home track and I know every foot of it. It was a great win and a great experience.”
Teammate Tony Ave was also happy with the final result, despite his own misfortune.
“It was a perfect win for Doug, the team is very happy with the result. Another one of our cars, that Cliff Ebben drives and Denny Lamers owns, was second. We led the most laps, had pole and two drivers in the front row— it was a great weekend for Tony Ave Racing, just not the best for Tony Ave.”
In TA2 Lawrence, and rookies Huffmaster and West were also able to hold their positions until the end of the race. The result gave Cameron Lawrence, a Florida native, his second Trans Am victory in TA2, and first here at his home track. Lawrence was jubilant with the result.
“It’s nice to win here at the home track and the guys did some great work on the cars. I just went out and drove and was able to stay out in front,” said Lawrence. “My father has helped me out a lot throughout racing and Pete Halsmer and Mr. Miller have really helped me this year—they’ve made it a very short learning curve.”
Finally, in Trans Am’s production class, TA3, David Seuss and the #9 Northern Light Porsche 996 GT3 took home the silverware, fending off a strong challenges from Tim Gray, in the #60 Ryan Companies US Inc. Porsche GT-3 Cup 997, and defending TA3 Champion Chuck Cassaro, in the #76 Stack Data/Aeromotive/Metallica Ford Mustang, who finished second and third, respectively. Seuss was happy with the result and even happier with how well his car held up.
“The real difference in this race was that at the end of the race I had tires and he (Tim Gray) didn’t,” stated Seuss. “I turned the best four laps of the race on my last four laps. The tires came through and I thank Goodyear for that. The Northern Light Porsche was so fast today I just had to hold on for dear life.”
Bob Tullius handed off the trophies to the winners after the conclusion of the 100 mile race, ushering in what Trans Am fans hope will be another 46 years of road racing.
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