The American GT Challenge
The future of the venerable Trans-American Road Racing Series was in doubt following a lacklustre 2003 season, with smallish grids and some unrest over last-minute rule changes. It was only after some hesitation that the SCCA granted the new owners, the "Open Wheel Racing Series" group headed by Paul Gentilozzi (already in charge of the daily running of the series), Jerry Forsythe, and Kevin Kalkhoven, the all-important use of the "Trans-Am" name. Its fate now inseparably linked to that of what used to be the CART World Series, Trans-Am lives on, at least for the time being.

This kind of racing has never been about cutting-edge technical development, and Gentilozzi's vision of a more hi-tech, and ultimately more expensive, quasi-DTM doesn't match that of its cost-conscious competitors. Over in GrandAm, the AGT category offered a chance for tubeframe teams to go endurance racing, but a change of priorities within the Grand American Road Racing universe has led to the disappearance of the AGT class and crippling performance restrictions; ultimately, this type of car is destined to disappear as more and more teams and drivers move over to Daytona Prototypes.

Although Trans-Am and GrandAm are headed in different directions, each has succeeded in disgruntling a number of competitors. Disappointed with these developments, Sky Blue Racing's Woodson Duncan and a group of associates have now set up their own series. It only took them a few short months to create the American GT Challenge, with a rulebook that accomodates tubeframed Trans-Am, GrandAm and SCCA GT1 silhouette cars and promises to offer privateer racers stability, cost efficiency and and close racing without unreasonable restrictions. "Our objective is to contain costs, through a stable rules environment built around the American automotive tradition of ample affordable horse power, and to put the fun back in road racing for owners, competitors and the fans", said Mr. Duncan on the occasion of the official launch of the championship.

The 2004 calendar will consist of eight rounds, with a visit to Canada (Mosport Park), and, inspired by the success of Trans-Am's expedition to Puerto Rico, a grand finale in the Dominican Republic. 25 competitors have so far requested the reservation of numbers, more are expected to follow.

The new championship has the support of luminaries such as living Trans-Am legend Bob Sharp, renowned driver and chassis builder Irv Hoerr, and constructor Bill Riley. Now the SCCA will undoubtedly keep track of the new venture's progress, just in case "new old" OWRS-controlled Trans-Am Series should not get off the ground after all.
Johannes Gauglica


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