Tommy Kendall Returns
of us who have followed American sportscar racing since the days
when men were men, and sportscars had roofs, will recall the name
Tommy Kendall as one of the main players in the IMSA and Trans-Am
series of the late '80s and early '90s. After a few years away from
active competition to pursue other interests, such as a broadcasting
career, Kendall will drive a Rocketsports Jaguar in the 2004 Trans-Am.
He still holds the record for the most consecutive race wins in
one T/A season (11 out of 13 races, in 1997).
Still the youngest
champion in IMSA history, and at 6'5" one of the tallest drivers
in the business, Kendall began his IMSA career with a run of three
successive GTU titles from 1986 to 1988, followed by his first stint
in Trans-Am. With the 1990 T/A Championship in the bag, he linked
up with MTI to drive the all-American, Riley-designed Intrepid GTP;
but his career was violently interrupted by a nasty high-speed crash
at Watkins Glen. His return to competition in 1993 coincided with
IMSA's decline, and after securing the GTS Championship he set out
to make Trans-Am his own; 1995 to 1997 saw another "triple".
More recently, Kendall was associated with the Saleen / Allen Speedlab
team at its 2000 debut at Laguna Seca (below), but the prospect
of a competitive season in the works-entered S7-R was never fulfilled.
return to a troubled Trans-Am can be seen not only as the welcome
return of a great champion but also as an attempt by series owner
Paul Gentilozzi to restore some of the series' former glory. Kendall
is so far the only confirmed Rocketsports entry: his comeback season
will begin on April 16-18 at Long Beach.