Kendall Returns to Motorock Trans-Am Series with Rocketsports Four-time champion to go after Mark Donohue's win record in 2004 LONG BEACH, Calif. (March 9, 2004) -- Four-time Motorock Trans-Am Series Drivers' Champion Tommy Kendall will drive...
Kendall Returns to Motorock Trans-Am Series with Rocketsports
Four-time champion to go after Mark Donohue's win record in 2004
LONG BEACH, Calif. (March 9, 2004) -- Four-time Motorock Trans-Am Series Drivers' Champion Tommy Kendall will drive the full 2004 Trans-Am schedule for Rocketsports Racing. Kendall will compete in a Jaguar XKR powered by Jaguar's stock-block, four-valve, fuel-injected engine debuted by Rocketsports last year. The announcement was made at a Trans-Am press luncheon, during the Champ Car Season Premiere in Long Beach, Calif.
Kendall, the Series' only four-time titleholder, will attempt to surpass the win record held by late Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue. Kendall, who has 26 career victories in Trans-Am competition, needs just four more wins to eclipse Donohue's mark.
"I'm very excited to return to Trans-Am with Rocketsports Racing," said Kendall, who last competed in Trans-Am in 1997 and most recently worked as a television commentator on Champ Car World Series broadcasts."This came out of the blue. I'd been missing racing for several years. After the end of the TV season last year, I decided that it was time to dedicate myself to driving in 2005. My plan was to get in shape, get sharp and get ready for '05. Then, low and behold, the phone rang and Paul (Gentilozzi) offered me the job. I had to jump at this tremendous opportunity.
"The car and team have always been the most important part of the equation for me," added Kendall, who drove for Roush Racing from 1993-1997 and C&C Racing from 1989-90. He made his Trans-Am debut in 1987 as an owner/driver. "I understood the importance of a good team since early in my career, and that is part of the reason I've had so much success. I was never willing do it unless I had the equipment I needed to win. I'm very excited about being with a team of the caliber of Rocketsports Racing. I raced against them a lot. We were bitter rivals, making for more than a little bit of irony in this deal."
Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi echoed Kendall's comments.
"We've been battling it out in Trans-Am for years, so for us to come together on the Rocketsports/Jaguar team seems ironic," said Gentilozzi, a three-time Drivers' Champion himself. "We were actually teammates once, in the 1993 Lime Rock IMSA race, but we've been rivals for so long, we're a bit of an odd couple.
"This will be an excellent season on the track," added Gentilozzi, "and I do plan to give Tommy some competition whenever I can."
The list of Kendall's Trans-Am accomplishments is long and significant. Kendall is also the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, from 1995-1997. He also won the championship in 1990. His 11-race win streak in 1997 remains the longest in Series history. The streak also gave Kendall the most victories in one season, one more than Donohue.
Kendall also holds the Trans-Am pole record with 39 fast-qualifying efforts. In all, Kendall has 26 victories, 53 podiums, 63 top fives, 72 top tens and 23 fast race laps. Kendall has also competed in IROC competition six times and has made 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts
In 1998, Kendall became the only SCCA driver since George Follmer, in 1972, to win the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's (AARWBA) Driver of the Year Award.
"We are delighted to welcome Tommy Kendall back to Trans-Am Series competition," said Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. "No other driver can boast the success and excitement Tommy has generated during his Trans-Am career.
"This year, Tommy will have his sights set on the win record held by Mark Donohue; a mark many believed would never be broken," added Clagett. "He is truly a living Trans-Am legend."
Kendall said he is looking forward to competing this year. However, he knows he has a bit of a learning curve coming off his six-year retirement.
"Obviously, I'm here to win races," said Kendall. "I have a great team behind me, and I know we'll be in contention. But a lot has changed since I left. The tires are different, the aero package is different, the differentials are different, the overall weight of the cars is different, and the horsepower is up. There are also a lot of new competitors as well. I'm certainly not a rookie, but I have a lot of work to do. I'll be a little hard on myself until I am back to where I was when I left."
Through all of his accomplishments, Kendall still has one jewel missing from his crown: at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach victory. Kendall came close to winning Long Beach Trans-Am race in 1996, earning the pole and leading the most laps before falling out with ignition problems.
"Long Beach is the biggest race in my world," said Kendall, who grew up and resides in Santa Monica, Calif. "I grew up going to the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I've been going since 1980. I've won the Pro Celebrity race there, but the Trans-Am race is what I'm all about."
The Motorock Trans-Am Series kicks off its 2004 season April 16-18 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Trans-Am Series race will run just following the Champ Car World Series event on Sunday, April 18.
The Motorock 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 39th anniversary in 2004.
Motorock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcases the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.