SAN DIEGO, Calif. (November 5, 2000) - Brian Simo came to the San Diego Grand Prix finale of the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series trailing Paul Gentilozzi by 14 points. But, starting his Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta from the pole, Simo lead 47 of the 60 laps in today's 60-lap, 99-mile race around the 1.65-mile San Diego Grand Prix street circuit, eventually finishing third. It was all he needed, as chief rival Paul Gentilozzi dropped out early and scored only a single point. The 29 points Simo gained were more than enough to crown him the 2000 Trans-Am Champion. The finish also secured the 2000 Trans-Am Owner's Championship for Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports.
"This championship is really for Tommy Bahama, Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports and the Qvale Mangusta," said Simo, 40, from Carlsbad, CA. "I got a call late in the off season to come drive for them, and I couldn't be happier that I decided to do that. All I want to do is hand this championship back to them; they really earned it. "The car was awesome; it was a pleasure to drive," added Simo, who has not finished worse than second in season points in four years. This was his first series championship.
"I know I've said it before, but I'm really proud of the job Brian did for us this year, and I'm proud of our whole team," said Joe Huffaker, vice president and technical director of Sonoma, CA-based Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports. "There is no quit in this team. To launch this new race car and have Brian take it to the driver's championship, and to win the owner's title, is just so gratifying."
"This is unbelievable," added Bruce Qvale, president of Huffaker/Qvale Motorsports. "Launching the Qvale Mangusta road car has occupied 200% of my time for the past two years. To be here and to see the race team get two titles in the first year for the Mangusta is more than we could have hoped for."
Simo's final points tally was 261 to Gentilozzi's 249. Gentilozzi's Rocketsports team also finished second in the owner's championship.