Edmonton: Round five preview

THE TRANS-AM SERIES MAKES HISTORIC RETURN TO EDMONTON EDMONTON, Alberta (July 12, 2005) -- It's been more than 30 years since Edmonton has heard the rumble of V-8 racing engines, but that will change this weekend as the Trans-Am...


EDMONTON, Alberta (July 12, 2005) -- It's been more than 30 years since Edmonton has heard the rumble of V-8 racing engines, but that will change this weekend as the Trans-Am Series returns to Alberta's capital city for the Festival City 100, the first Trans-Am race in Edmonton since 1973. The race, which is part of the West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton weekend, is scheduled for Saturday, July 16 at Finning International Raceway, which is being constructed on the grounds of Edmonton's City Centre Airport.

Though Trans-Am has visited Edmonton just twice, in 1971 and 1973 at the now shuttered Edmonton International Speedway, it has consistently made history.

The 1971 race was won by the late Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue. Driving an AMC Javelin, Donohue won from the pole that year, beating George Follmer's Ford Mustang by 19.5 seconds. Donohue's Edmonton victory started a six-race win streak that guided Donohue to his third and final Trans-Am title, in his final full season of Trans-Am competition.

The 1973 race featured a John Greenwood sweep of the pole, fastest race lap and the victory. Greenwood drove a Chevrolet Corvette in that event, the season finale, and finished fourth in the final points tally.

That history will continue this year as Paul Gentilozzi enters the event, following his passing the most significant milestone in his illustrious Trans-Am career. By scoring his 30th career victory last week in Toronto, Gentilozzi moved out of tie with Donohue for first on Trans-Am's all-time win list. Gentilozzi (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) will bring that same drive and determination to Edmonton with eyes on #31. Gentilozzi also leads nearly every Trans-Am performance category, including podiums, top-five and top-ten finishes; fast race laps, career laps led, lead-lap finishes, career starts, and consecutive starts.

Yet, there are several other Trans-Am veterans in the field ready to take on Gentilozzi. Leading that charge is current points leader Randy Ruhlman. Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products Canada Chevrolet Corvette) has two wins and a runner-up finish to his credit this season. Though he suffered some bad luck last weekend at Toronto, his seventh-place finish was good enough to allow him to hold the points lead coming into Edmonton for his 151st Trans-Am start.

If experience rules, then Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar XKR) should have the field covered this weekend. The 1978 Trans-Am champion has 15 career wins to his credit, and has finished second twice this year. He is attempting this year to become the first Trans-Am driver to win a race in each four decades of competition.

Yet, just 18 points behind Ruhlman is third-year driver Joey Scarallo. Scarallo (No. 06 Group A Wheels/Autotrend/Toyo Tires Chevrolet Corvette) joined a new team this year led by former Trans-Am driver and short-track legend Tony Ave. That move has paid big dividends as Scarallo has finished on the podium twice this year, and finished fourth last weekend at Toronto.

Klaus Graf (No. 1 Jaguar R Performance XKR) is seeking his second Trans-Am victory, after winning Round 2 in Portland. The German driver is a graduate of the Porsche Michelin Supercup Series in his native land. He sits just two points behind Scarallo in the standings.

Calgary driver Hima Maher (No. 78 Centennial Motorsports of Calgary, Alberta Chevrolet Corvette) will give the local fans someone to root for. The Trans-Am rookie is competing this year with veteran team Derhaag Motorsports as teammate to Ruhlman. Edmonton resident Kevin Neilson will make his sixth career Trans-Am start, driving the No. 18 K2 Motorsports Jaguar XKR here.

Tomy Drissi enters Edmonton refreshed after earning his first podium of the season, last week in Toronto. Drissi will drive the No. 5 Supercross -- The Movie Jaguar XKR here.

Canadians Dennis Goruk (No. 40 Ensign Corvette Chevrolet Corvette), from Calgary, and Moneca Kolvyn (No. 08 West Coast Hot Rods Chevrolet Monte Carlo), from Delta, British Columbia, will compete in the GT-1 Class this weekend. The GT-1 Class comprises Trans-Am-specification cars, but is reserved for up-and-coming teams from SCCA Club Racing's GT-1 division. The GT-1 Class winner is honored at each race this season, and features its own championship.

The GTA Class will be well represented here as ProFormance Racing is entering four cars here. Vancouver's Tony Morris (No. 20 Aspen Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo), Edmonton's Harold Schmidt (No. 29 Northwest Truck Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo), Grand Prairie, Alberta's Roy Isley (No. 46 Canadian Western Aggregate) and Edson, Alberta's Lyle Paulson (No. 42 L&S Racing Pontiac Grand Prix) will all compete for the Abbottsford, B.C.-based team. Tim Barber (No. 96 Pioneer Motorsports Pontiac Grand Prix) will also compete in the GTA Class here.

The GTA Class features V-8-powered, tube-framed sedans. Eligible makes and models include Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Intrepid, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Ford Thunderbird and Taurus and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Class will be recognized with its own championship, as well as recognition in each race this season. The addition of the GT America cars turns Trans-Am into a three-class Series, which also includes the featured Trans-Am cars, as well as the GT-1 Driver Development Class.

The Festival City 100, Round 5 of the 2005 Trans-Am Championship and part of the part of the West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton weekend, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 15-16, 2005. Saturday's race will air on tape-delayed basis, Sunday, July 24 at 1 p.m. EDT on SPEED Channel.

The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 40th consecutive year of competition in 2005.


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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Klaus Graf , Tony Ave , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Greg Pickett , Tim Barber , Moneca Kolvyn , Hima Maher , Roy Isley , Mark Donohue