Cleveland: GT-1 driver development race notes

GT-1 Racer "Chevy" Leavy Finishes Ninth in Cleveland Trans-Am Debut CLEVELAND (July 2, 2004) -- Jon "Chevy" Leavy entered Friday's Trans-Am on the Tarmac here a Cleveland rookie and left a veteran as the GT-1 racer finished ninth in his Burke ...

GT-1 Racer "Chevy" Leavy Finishes Ninth in Cleveland Trans-Am Debut

CLEVELAND (July 2, 2004) -- Jon "Chevy" Leavy entered Friday's Trans-Am on the Tarmac here a Cleveland rookie and left a veteran as the GT-1 racer finished ninth in his Burke Lakefront Airport debut. Leavy (No. 11 MLEYE.com/MurrayAutoRacing.com Chevrolet Camaro) is part of the growing contingent of GT-1 racers taking part in the Motorock Trans-Am Series' new GT-1 Driver Development program.

Leavy was the highest-finishing GT-1 racer in the field. He took part in victory lane ceremonies, as well as participating in the post-race press conference for the accomplishment.

Teamed with B.K. "Kenny" Bupp (No. 10 BankUnited/Hamilton Safe Chevrolet Camaro), Leavy plans to compete in up to five races this season with sights set on winning this year's GT-1 Championship. The team also plans to compete at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (July 30 -- Aug. 1) and Road America (Aug. 5-8) with the possibility of running two more races.

"I used to watch Trans-Am racing when I was a little kid. I always said that as soon as I got a driver's license, I was going to race in Trans-Am," said Leavy. "So, for me to be here is just a tremendous accomplishment."

Leavy said competing in the top echelon of professional sports-car racing has helped him make his program more competitive.

"Paul (Gentilozzi) has helped me out a lot over the years," said Leavy. "I drive one of Paul's old cars. Every time I've had a problem with the setup, he always helped me get the car going.

"Paul said a couple years ago at a banquet that you are only as good as the level of your competition. If you don't have good competition, you're off by yourself," added Leavy. "When you are out here in Trans-Am with the best of the best, you learn from them. Every lap I follow Paul, I get better. That makes me feel proud to accomplish things against drivers of this caliber."

Budgetary issues drove Leavy to take part in the new program this year. Leavy has competed on both a National and Regional level in SCCA Club Racing.

"Kenny and I teamed up to run in the Trans-Am GT-1 Driver Development Program because we don't have the budget to run competitively with the Trans-Am teams," said Leavy. "This program gives us a chance to showcase our abilities and utilize the equipment we already had and were running at the local level. This also gives us a chance to be a part of a very professional series. I'm really happy to be a part of that."

Ecstatic with his results this weekend, Leavy is looking forward to running more Trans-Am races.

"When we arrived yesterday I had never turned a lap here. It's a great track, but we were just off of the pace," said Leavy. "I did my homework on the track last night, went out in first practice and the fuel pump burned out. My crew got it back together and we ran really strong. My new sponsor Millennium Eye Center did LASIK on my eyes and I now have 20-15 vision. That really helped me see my way to the finish today."

Leavy has long been a staple of Trans-Am competition, running with the Series since 1996. His best finish in Trans-Am competition of seventh came in his home race at Miami in 2002. Leavy got his start in racing in 1979, driving a short-track stock car on Hialeah Speedway's third-mile asphalt oval. In fact, that is where he received his "Chevy" nickname, which rhymes with his last name. He won the limited late model track championship at Hialeah in 1984.

The GT-1 Development Program, announced earlier this year, will award the GT-1 Drivers' Championship, presented for the first time in 2003, and will further recognize the importance of GT-1 involvement in Trans-Am competition. In order to create more visibility, the Program will recognize the highest-finishing GT-1 competitor at each event during winner's circle festivities. The top-finishing GT-1 driver will also be invited to take part in post-race media interviews, and, when possible, will participate in television interviews.

Also, those competitors winning GT-1 races at the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and the June Sprints at Road America, will be presented a GT-1 Trans-Am Series Support Package, which includes, among other things, free entries to Trans-Am Series races.

GT-1 competitors will continue to be eligible for regular Trans-Am championship points, contingency monies and race awards. Special GT-1 contingency awards are also being planned.

The Motorock Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th year of competition in 2004.

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Series Trans-Am