Houston preview

What: The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series enters Round Nine of its 35th season here as part of the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. This weekend’s BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am race, will be the 388th in Trans-Am Series history. Television:...

What: The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series enters Round Nine of its 35th season here as part of the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. This weekend’s BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am race, will be the 388th in Trans-Am Series history.

Television: Saturday’s race will be televised on a taped-delay basis by Speedvision on October 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Race Length: 65-laps of the 1.527-mile course for 99.255 miles or a 90-minute time limit.

Weekend Stories

Points Lead Up For Grabs With four races remaining this season, the Drivers’ Championship is still up for grabs. Two-time defending champion Paul Gentilozzi leads Brian Simo in the points race 197 to 188.

Gentilozzi Looks For Second Consecutive Win At Houston Paul Gentilozzi will look for his second consecutive win at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Last season, Gentilozzi started from the pole and took the victory by 5.394 seconds over Leighton Reese. Gentilozzi’s average speed over the 1.527-mile circuit was 61.247 miles per hour.

Dramatic Announcements Made At Road America As part of the Road America weekend, the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series made a pair of dramatic announcements. Beginning in 2001, over $2.5 million will be up for grabs in purses and bonuses. In addition, the series also announced significant rules changes and unveiled its new body styles. (Press Releases are enclosed)

Simo Continues Streak Of Fast Race Laps Brian Simo six-race streak of fastest race laps ties him for second place with George Follmer all-time in Series history... the All-Time Leader in Fast Race Laps is Paul Gentilozzi, with nine in 1998... Houston is the site of Simo’s second-ever victory, also in 1998... last season, Simo was plagued by power steering problems and finished fifth.

New Addition Brian and Celeste Simo announce the birth of their second daughter, Sawyer, born at 8:30 p.m., September 13. The eight-pound three-ounce girl is sister to Savannah.

Miller Ran Well At Houston Last Year Last season, Johnny Miller qualified on the outside of the front row at Houston... Houston will be only the second race track that Miller will have ever run with the same car (Chevrolet Corvette), same crew (led by team manager Quinn Conda) and same engineer (Tom Hoke) as he did last year... Miller first drove the Corvette at Vancouver, British Columbia last season... the only other track that Miller’s Automationdirect.com UPS Chevrolet Corvette has visited twice is Sebring... Miller now has six career runner-up finishes, which ties him for the second-most runner-up finishes without a win in Series history... former four-time champion Tom Kendall was runner-up seven times from 1988 to 1990.... Miller is tied with former driver Ed Leslie.

More On Gentilozzi Two-time defending champion Paul Gentilozzi will be making his 159th start in BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series history at Houston... Gentilozzi holds the series record for career starts... in the 158 starts that Gentilozzi has made, he has finished in the top-10 103 times (65.1 percent), top-five 77 times (48.7 percent) and the top-three 46 times (29.1 percent).

2000 Season Finale Set For San Diego The Panoz/Sanchez Group and SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd., have announced the addition of the November 3-5 Grand Prix of San Diego to close out the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. The event will serve as the 12th race on the schedule and will be competed over The Grand Prix of San Diego Circuit that will be set up at the former Naval Training Center, north of Lindbergh Field, providing a scenic waterfront backdrop. “We’re excited to run at such a unique venue in a great city like San Diege,” said John Clagett, BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Executive Director. “Trans-Am racing is rich in heritage in Southern California, and our first-ever race in San Diego is a perfect way to close out what has been a great 2000 season.”

The Panoz/Sanchez Group Acquires Rights To The Trans-Am Series The Panoz/Sanchez Group and SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd. have completed an agreement to assign the rights for the Trans-Am Series and the Trans-Am trademark to the newly-formed Panoz/Sanchez Group (PSG). Under the 10-year renewable contract, the Panoz/Sanchez Group takes over management of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, including marketing, public relations and television packaging responsibilities as well as future venue negotiations, acquisition of additional series sponsorship and servicing current sponsors. SCCA Pro Racing will remain the sanctioning body for the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series, providing administrative, operations and technical functions.

New Models, New Wings Three new models have made their debut this season—the Jaguar XKR, the Oldsmobile Aurora and the Qvale Qvale Mangusta. Driving the Jaguars are two-time and defending Drivers’ Champion Paul Gentilozzi, along with rookie Jeff Altenburg. Randy Ruhlman pilots the new Aurora, and Brian Simo will be behind the wheel of the Qvale Mangusta. Also new this year are spec rear wings, designed to improve aerodynamics and downforce while allowing the cars to keep more of their street-car appearance.

Willy T. Ribbs Returns Willy T. Ribbs returns to Trans-Am Series competition this season. Ribbs, 44, scored 17 wins and 28 podium finishes in 50 career Trans-Am starts from 1983 through 1989, tying him with Dorsey Schroeder for sixth on the all-time win list.

Simple Green “Clean Up” Award Worth $37,500 At Texas The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series’ "Simple Green Clean-Up Award” is a $2,500 cash bonus that goes to a driver who “cleans-up” at any single race weekend by earning the pole position, posting the fastest race lap, leading the most laps and winning the race. The Simple Green Clean-Up Award accumulates from consecutive races without a “Clean-Up” winner, and is worth $15,000 to a driver who “cleans up” at Houston. As an added bonus, Simple Green has added an additional $15,000 bringing the total to $37,500.

#16 Simple Green Chevrolet Camaro Is Repaired The #16 Simple Green Chevrolet Camaro, driven by Willy T. Ribbs, has been fully repaired after catching fire during one of the practice sessions at the Grand Prix of Texas. “It’s a testimony to how good Simple Green’s products are that Willy T.’s car will be ready to race again,” said Victoria Motorsports team owner Frank Cioppettini. “We cleaned the mess with Simple Green Pro Series Cleaner/Degreaser and Simple Green Scrubbing Pads. You won’ t see any signs that the car was in a horrific fire at Dallas three weeks ago.” Victoria Motorsports has also signed G.J. Mennen to drive the #6 American Health Products Chevrolet Camaro. He will join Ribbs and Stu Hayner in the #98 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Camaro to give Victoria Motorsports the largest team in the series.

Local Driver To Return To Series Andre Toennis (Houston, Texas) will make his second appearance of the season at the Havoline Grand Prix. Toennis will drive the #43 RT Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Toennis finished 14th in the season-opener at Sebring.

New Zealand Teams Join The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series Craig Baird (Hamilton, New Zealand) and Grant Silvester (Christchurch, New Zealand) have joined the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series for the final three rounds of the 2000 season. Baird will run in the #0 Alan Ferguson Racing Chevrolet Camaro; Silvester will race in the #60 Sydenham’s Race Team Ford Mustang. The Camaro driven by Baird is the American Equipment Chevrolet that last ran in a Trans-Am Race in 1995. Baird brings over a decade of worldwide racing experience to his initial start in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. Baird has won championships in the Formula Ford 1600 (1989), Formula Pacific (1991, 1992, 1993), New Zealand Touring Car Series (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) and New Zealand Trans-Am (2000). Silvester is a veteran of two seasons of New Zealand Trans-Am competition. He finished third in both the 1999 and 2000 Drivers’ Championship. Silvester finished second on January 30 at Manfeild, to post his career-best finish. He has also posted eight third place finishes.

Bits & Pieces Jeff Altenburg has posted top-four finishes in four of the last five races... Altenburg, the leader of the Red Line Oil Rookie-of-the-Year Points Standings, is currently third in the Drivers’ Championship with 137 points... with the victory at Texas, Leighton Reese has moved into the top-five of the Drivers’ Championship points standings at 117... Reese leads Altenburg by a narrow two-point margin in the MOMODesign Watches Point Standings... the victory by Reese at Texas marked the first time this season that the eventual winner started lower than sixth on the grid (Reese started 10th)... Michael Lewis has posted back-to-back fifth place finishes at Road America and Texas.

<pre> Numbers

Fast Five Appearances Pos. Driver (Appearances) 1. Paul Gentilozzi (8) 2. Brian Simo (7) Johnny Miller (7) 4. Randy Ruhlman (6) 5. Jack Willes (2) Michael Lewis (2) Leighton Reese (2)

Front Row Starts Pos. Driver (Starts) 1. Paul Gentilozzi (7) 2. Brian Simo (5) Front Row Starts (cont) 3. Randy Ruhlman (1) Boris Said (1) Johnny Miller (2)

Pole Positions (Fastest Qualifier) Pos. Driver (Poles) 1. Paul Gentilozzi (4) 2. Johnny Miller (2) Brian Simo (2)

Victories From The Fast Five Qualifying Positions Pos. Driver (Victories) Pole 2 - Paul Gentilozzi (Detroit, Cleveland) 2. 3; 2 - Brian Simo (Charlotte,Mosport), 1 - Paul Gentilozzi (Road America) 3. 0 4. 1 - Biran Simo (Sebring) 5. 0

Houston Grand Prix Records

Qualifying: 76.952 mph, 1:11.436, Paul Gentilozzi, 1998 Race Lap: 75.861 mph, 1:12.464, Brian Simo, 1998 Winner’s Speed: 62.034 mph, 1:28:36.943, Brian Simo, 1998 Narrowest Margin of Victory: 5.394 sec., Paul Gentilozzi over Leighton Reese, 1999 Widest Margin of Victory: 27.646 sec., Brian Simo over Bill Saunders, 1998 Margin of Victory Last Race: 5.394 sec., Paul Gentilozzi over Leighton Reese, 1999

Past Winners Year Winner Speed 1998 Brian Simo 62.034 mph 1999 Paul Gentilozzi 61.247 mph

Past Poles Year Fastest Qualifier Speed 1998 Paul Gentilozzi 76.952 mph 1999 Pual Gentilozzi 76.658 mph

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Leighton Reese , George Follmer , Johnny Miller , Randy Ruhlman , Andre Toennis , Dorsey Schroeder , Michael Lewis , Willy T. Ribbs , Jack Willes , Jeff Altenburg , G.J. Mennen , Craig Baird