October 3, 1998 - Houston, Texas Mike Stucker - Motorsport News International As the 1997 SCCA Trans-Am season was nearing its conclusion, there was some concern over whether the 1998 season might even get off the ground. There had been a near...
October 3, 1998 - Houston, Texas Mike Stucker - Motorsport News International
As the 1997 SCCA Trans-Am season was nearing its conclusion, there was some concern over whether the 1998 season might even get off the ground. There had been a near defection of the series drivers and teams to PSR, there was no series sponsor, and the automobile companies were pulling their direct support out of the series. Although the factories did leave, but the teams stayed put and National Tire and Battery (NTB) signed-on as the title sponsor for the Trans-Am. As the 1998 Trans-Am season concluded, Motorsport News International asked the top three drivers in this year's championship to asses how the season went, the quality of the racing, and the state of the Trans-Am series.
Brian Simo: "It's not a secret that there's no factory involvement. It's a transitional time for road racing in general, you can't just blame it on the Trans-Am series. I think we all rallied together as drivers and team owners to keep this going in the direction. That direction is showing and the fields are growing and its been pretty positive. We like the level of play with respect to involvement, it makes a better race car driver and it makes for more opportunity to the field, but this a good sign. If we can survive this we can survive quite a bit."
Paul Gentilozzi: "I think the racing on the track, for the most part, was really good all year. The primary protagonists were the three of us (but) the fields were good. I think the spirit of the competitors was good. The next step is up to the people, the sanctioning body, the sponsors, to raise the level of the playing field, the level of marketing, and communication, so that we have a better series next year."
Bill Saunders: "I think it's great that NTB is here. I hope that NTB steps up and puts money in the series, that'll help for sure. But it's going to take not legislating mediocrity into the series but rewarding changes. You cannot think the Dorseys and Scott Pruetts and all the drivers like these guys will be back. What you want is 15-20 cars deep like we did today. I'd like to see it get back to that but the quality of racing is very good. It's nice to have deep fields, I know that's what people want."