WeeklyNews 99-03-18

SCCA Pro Racing March 18, 1999 TRANS-AM TEAM PLANS: With the 1999 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series season-opening Johnson Controls 100 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach just four weeks away, several teams have firmed up their driver ...

SCCA Pro Racing March 18, 1999

TRANS-AM TEAM PLANS: With the 1999 BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series season-opening Johnson Controls 100 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach just four weeks away, several teams have firmed up their driver rosters:

ROCKETSPORTS Entering the three Johnson Controls Triple Challenge events (Long Beach, Detroit and Grand Rapids) will be actor/racer Craig T. Nelson, who will drive the No. 5 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Corvette as teammate to Paul Gentilozzi’s No. 1 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Ford Mustang Cobra. Nelson has a long racing resume but will make his Trans-Am debut at the Johnson Controls 100. "We didn't pick an actor that could drive, but rather a driver that happens to act," said Gentilozzi. "Over the years, I've worked with a lot of drivers from the entertainment industry, but seldom have I seen someone as focused on personal performance as Craig T." Nelson was introduced to auto racing when he participated in the Pro Celebrity race during the 1991 Long Beach Grand Prix. He finished third and was hooked. In 1992, he formed Screaming Eagles Enterprise and became a team owner/driver. After campaigning an entry in the American City Racing League (ACRL) and finishing second in points in 1993 and fourth in 1994, Nelson stepped up to IMSA/PSCR World Sports Car competition in 1995, scoring numerous top-10 finishes and earning IMSA's "Most Improved Driver of the Year" in 1995. "Craig T. will test with us, and it'll take a little while to transition from the WSC car to a Trans-Am sedan," added Gentilozzi. "But he'll do fine and he will be a threat on the track." "I thank Johnson Controls and Paul for this opportunity," said Nelson. "It will be great to get back into racing, especially at Long Beach where I got my start—and in front of the hometown crowd." In 1997, Nelson completed his ninth and final season on the hit ABC series COACH, starring as “Hayden Fox.” For his work on the series, he received three Emmy nominations in 1990, 1991, and 1992 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, winning the Emmy for the 1991-1992 season. He has also been honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with four Golden Globe nominations.

AMERICAN SPIRIT RACING AUTOCON MOTORSPORT American Spirit Racing’s Michael Lewis, driver of the No. 12 AmeriSuites Mustang Cobra, will be teamed with AutoCon Motorsports’ Tomy Drissi and Mike Davis in a three-car effort. Drissi and Davis are vintage racing champions but will be rookies in the Trans-Am. Drissi will contest the full BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am season while Davis will compete in select ‘99 events. "Both Tomy and Mike have shown well in pre-season testing,” said Lewis. "We look forward to seeing Tomy make a run for Rookie of the Year, and Mike could surprise a few people as well."

RACEWERX Bruce Barkelew’s RaceWerX team will field a three-car effort in 1999, returning Brian Simo to the familiar No. 2 Valvoline Mustang Cobra while Barkelew will drive the No. 7 Superclubs Resorts Mustang Cobra in select races. New to the team is rookie contender G.J. Mennen. Mennen, 26, from Austin, Texas, made his Trans-Am debut last season, competing at both Pikes Peak International Raceway and the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. Previously, Mennen developed his racing skills competing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the Barber Formula Dodge Series and the British Formula Vauxhall series. "Driving a Trans-Am car was fantastic," said Mennen. "It's a vast departure from other types of cars that I have driven, but all the same a race car is a race car—you work hard to drive it as fast as you can, and then you work harder to find ways, either through driving technique or car setup, to drive it faster." Mennen says his plan is to run at least two seasons in the Trans-Am, shooting for consistency and perhaps the Rookie of the Year title in 1999. "I chose to compete in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series for the complete package it offers—the media and driver exposure, the competition and the continuing growth of the series," added Mennen. "My goals are to win the Rookie of the Year, and learn all the tracks the series races on. I think that my biggest strength that I bring to the Trans-Am is that given my relatively young age, I have accomplished a lot behind the wheel of a race car, and I have been behind the wheel of many different cars. It will certainly be a challenge to learn all of the tracks, but that is to be expected for a rookie season.”

DERHAAG MOTORSPORTS Derhaag Motorsports, which successfully campaigned Chris Neville to the 1998 Rookie of the Year title, will run two drivers in 1999. Driving the No. 59 Chevrolet Camaro, Simon Gregg, son of two-time Trans-Am Champion Peter Gregg, will contest his second full season of Trans-Am racing under the tutelage of team owner and crew chief Jim Derhaag. "Being with this team I feel like I can post the kind of results I feel I'm capable of,” said Gregg. “I plan on having a successful second year in Trans-Am—I'm targeting a top-10 finish in points and, hopefully, the Most Improved Driver award for this year, and I’m going to work hard to accomplish these goals." Driving Derhaag Motorsports’ second entry will be Steve Pelke, who will pilot the No. 40 KAY Manufacturing Camaro. "Not so long ago, I never would have dreamed I'd be driving in the Trans-Am Series", said Pelke. “I've always loved the Trans-Am. I got the bug last year driving two races, and I'm really excited about driving the whole season this year.

PROGRAM DEADLINE AND CIRCUIT PR CONTACTS INFORMATION AVAILABLE: SCCA Pro Racing has comprehensive lists of event program deadlines and contacts as well as circuit public relations representative contacts available for all SCCA Pro Racing participants. Contact Madison Sterling (mcsterling@csi.com or 303-967-9653) for a copy of either list.

NEW LOGOS FOR THE SPEEDVISION WORLD CHALLENGE: The Speedvision World Challenge will feature three new logos, one for the Speedvision World Challenge Championships as the umbrella series, and one for each of the series' two championships: the Speedvision GT Championship and the Speedvision Touring Car Championship. "The new logos are integral to establishing a distinct, unique identity for the Speedvision World Challenge GT and Touring Car Championships, as well as the series as a whole," said Mitch Wright, World Challenge Technical Director. "The extensive marketing and promotional agenda from Speedvision demonstrates a new level of commitment to the Speedvision World Challenge, and these new logos signify the new direction and focus." All three logos, created by the Speedvision Network, feature the blue Speedvision stripe set atop a black and white checker-boarded pattern, with the series or championship designation appearing in bold colors in the lower right hand corner (World Challenge in grey, GT in red and Touring Car in yellow.) For further information concerning the new Speedvision World Challenge Championships logos and logo usage contact Dave Bratten at SCCA Pro Racing, Ltd., (303) 694-7223.

NATIONAL CAPITAL AREA RACE CAR SHOW IN WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Washington D.C. Region of the Sports Car Club of America will hold their 1999 National Capital Area Race Car Show on Saturday, April 24, 1999, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. in Rockville, Md. The WDCR has space available for SCCA Pro Racing teams to display their cars at no cost. The National Capital Area Race Car Show will also include a demonstration of radio controlled model race cars and children will be treated to rides in Kiddie Race Cars. The WDCR, an organization of about 2000 members, sponsors the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series and seeks to promote public awareness in motorsports in general and how technology and driving skills developed through racing serves the public interest. The show will be held at the City of Rockville's parking facility on Middle Lane, one-half block from the Rockville Metro Station. Parking is available adjacent to the show. For more information, including the entry form, check the WDCR's web page at http://www.wdcr-scca.org.

Source: SCCA/SCCA Pro Racing/USRRC

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Series SCCA , Trans-Am
Drivers Brian Simo , Paul Gentilozzi , Steve Pelke , Michael Lewis , Simon Gregg , G.J. Mennen , Mike Davis , Peter Champion