Long Beach preview

LONG BEACH KICKS OFF THE NTB TRANS-AM SERIES' 33RD SEASON ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (March 26, 1998) -- The mighty V8 thunder is ready to rumble once again as the NTB Trans-Am Series, America's premier muscle car road racing series, roars to the shore...

LONG BEACH KICKS OFF THE NTB TRANS-AM SERIES' 33RD SEASON

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (March 26, 1998) -- The mighty V8 thunder is ready to rumble once again as the NTB Trans-Am Series, America's premier muscle car road racing series, roars to the shore for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 3-5.

Sunday's 63-lap, 100.17-mile NTB Trans-Am Series season-opener will feature television coverage on two television networks, with Speedvision broadcasting the race on next-day, prime time coverage beginning Monday, April 6 at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern). TNN's tape-delayed coverage will air Sunday, April 12 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern).

The NTB Trans-Am Series race, scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. (Pacific), will take the green flag following the CART FedEx Championship Series contest. This race will be the seventh time the NTB Trans-Am Series has competed at Long Beach, dating to 1987, and the 354th race in series history.

Highlights of the Long Beach season-opener include the debut of NTB National Tire and Battery as the Trans-Am's title sponsor, BFGoodrich's new Trans-Am spec tire -- the g-Force T/A radial racing slick -- and the first professional road racing appearance for the new fifth-generation Chevrolet Corvette.

NTB National Tire & Battery is Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s newest freestanding retail format, was officially launched in March 1997 when Sears announced that it was converting its 150 Tire America and 125 National Tire Warehouse (NTW) stores into one format -- NTB. Throughout 1997, all 275 stores were converted to NTB and many new stores were opened as well. NTB plans to add 100 new stores per year with a goal of more than 700 stores by the year 2001.

On the cars, BFGoodrich Tires is bringing a huge technical change to the NTB Trans-Am Series -- radial racing tires. Replacing the former bias-ply standard, BFGoodrich's new g-Force T/A (Traction Advantage) tire promises to deliver longer tire life with more consistent performance throughout each race.

On the driver front, a host of muscle car hotshoes will contest the 1998 Drivers' Championship, including last year's runner-up Brian Simo (No. 2 Valvoline Ford Mustang Cobra), Michael Lewis (No. 12 Redline Oil Mustang Cobra), Lou Gigliotti (No. 28 G2 Performance Parts Mustang Cobra), John W. Miller IV (No. 64 P.L.C. Direct Camaro), Leighton Reese (No. 66 Phillips 66/Banner Engineering Pontiac Grand Prix) and Rocketsports teammates Paul Gentilozzi and Bill Saunders, who will be competing in the No. 3 and No. 8 AutoLink Corvettes, respectively.

Gentilozzi, the only returning driver to have scored a Long Beach win (1988), will be looking to make the most out of the debut of the new Corvette.

"I've got absolute faith in our car design," said Gentilozzi. "Any time we've introduced a new car, we've always been up front, whether it was the pole at Daytona in 1993 or the podium sweep at Sears Point in 1991."

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Long Beach Fast Facts

NTB Trans-Am Series * Round 1 * Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Long Beach, Calif. * April 3-5, 1998

WHAT The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be Round 1 of the 13-race 1998 NTB Trans-Am Series.

WHERE The 1.59-mile, eight-turn Long Beach street circuit. The NTB Trans-Am Series race will be 63 laps for 100.17 miles.

WHEN Sunday, April 5. Green flag scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (Pacific).

CONTACTS John Clagett, Vice President Communications and Marketing Services Greg Rubenstein, Director of Public Relations David Bratten, Public Relations Manager

TELEVISION Speedvision, Monday, April 6, 9:30 p.m. (Eastern) TNN, Sunday, April 12, 1:00 p.m. (Eastern)

SCHEDULE Friday, April 3 - NTB Trans-Am Series Practice, 5:25 p.m. (Pacific) Saturday, April 4 - NTB Trans-Am Series Fast Five Qualifying, 5:15 p.m. (Pacific) Sunday, April 5, NTB Trans-Am Series Race, 4:00 p.m. (Pacific)

NTB Trans-Am Series Long Beach Records Qualifying: 1:00.775 (94.183 mph), Tom Kendall, 1996 Race Lap: 1:02.427 (91.691 mph), Tom Kendall, 1996 Winner’s Speed: 85.190 mph, Ron Fellows, 1993 Narrowest Margin of Victory: 1.138-sec., Irv Hoerr over Tom Kendall, 1989 Widest Margin of Victory: 9.48 sec., Paul Gentilozzi over Hurley Haywood, 1988 Margin of Victory Last Race: Under caution, Jamie Galles over Scott Sharp, 1996

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Sharp , Ron Fellows , Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Leighton Reese , Hurley Haywood , Tom Kendall , Lou Gigliotti , Michael Lewis