Trans-Am Tidbits, January 25, 2002

Three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi guided his Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR to the GTS class pole position Thursday for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Gentilozzi averaged 118.363 miles...

Three-time and defending Trans-Am Series champion Paul Gentilozzi guided his Rocketsports Racing Jaguar XKR to the GTS class pole position Thursday for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Gentilozzi averaged 118.363 miles per hour (1 minute, 48.277 seconds) on his fastest lap of the 3.56-mile road course to claim the GTS pole and the 15th starting spot overall for the 40th anniversary of the 24-hour endurance test. Second round qualifying and additional practice sessions are scheduled for today before the Rolex 24 takes the green flag at 1 p.m. ET Saturday.

Gentilozzi will share driving duties with perennial Trans-Am rival Brian Simo and veteran Scott Pruett in the Johnson Controls, HomeLink-sponsored entry this weekend. Between them, the three drivers own six Trans-Am championships -- three for Gentilozzi (1998, '99, 2001), two for Pruett (1987, '94) and one for Simo (2000).

Distance-racing specialist Michael Lauer will co-drive the Jaguar along with Gentilozzi, Pruett and Simo.

Pruett and Gentilozzi also co-drove to the overall victory in the 1994 Rolex 24 in a Nissan 300ZX GTS, sharing driving duties with Steve Millen and Butch Leitzinger. Leitzinger, who is scheduled to campaign a Tommy Bahama-sponsored Chevrolet Corvette for Tom Gloy Racing in this year's Trans-Am series, is listed as a co-driver in the Ford-powered Riley and Scott entered by Dyson Racing weekend.

James Weaver qualified the Dyson Racing entry fifth overall on Thursday.

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PRESS CONFERENCE TO LAUNCH TICKET SALES FOR INAUGURAL NATIONAL GRAND PRIX

A press conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, at which organizers of this summer's National Grand Prix of Washington D.C. will announce the beginning of ticket sales for the inaugural event, scheduled for July 19-21 at RFK Stadium.

The press conference, to be held at 1 p.m. ET at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, will feature several special guests, including Trans-Am driver Butch Leitzinger, recently signed by Tom Gloy Racing to pilot the Tommy Bahama-sponsored Chevrolet Corvette in the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup.

Other notables expected to attend include American Le Mans Series driver Bryan Herta; daredevil stuntman Robbie Knievel and celebrity supermodel Kim Alexis. Knievel is expected to announce an attempt at a world-record jump during the Grand Prix weekend, while Alexis will be among the participants in the Grand Prix's celebrity race.

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HAYNER NAMED TO DRIVE FOR REVOLUTION MOTORSPORTS

Revolution Motorsports announced late last week that Stu Hayner will drive for the team during the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. Hayner, an accomplished driver in a variety of motorsports disciplines, will drive one of two Chevrolet Corvettes entered by Revolution Motorsports for the 2002 season. He will be entering his 10th season of Trans-Am competition in 2002, and owns one victory (Road America) and 11 top-five finishes in 36 career starts in the series. Hayner made seven Trans-Am starts in 2001, with a top finish of second at Cleveland. He finished 17th in the championship with 102 points.

"This is a great ride," said Hayner. "After spending time with [team owner] Don Sak and key players on the team, I truly believe Revolution Motorsports will be a force to be reckoned with in this year's Trans-Am series. The team is well funded, well equipped and staffed with talented, enthusiastic people. I feel our chances are great for a Trans-Am championship!" In addition to his extended career in Trans-Am, Hayner owns championships in the 1988 Corvette Challenge and 1988 Escort Endurance Championship. He is also a veteran of IMSA GTU competition, where he claimed a 1990 victory at Mid-Ohio. Away from the race track, Hayner is a highly regarded spokesman for companies such as General Motors, Ford, Lexus, Jaguar and BMW, among others.

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RELIEF FUND ESTABLISHED FOR GARY LONGO

A relief fund has been established to help defray the costs of hospitalization and rehabilitation for Gary Longo, the Trans-Am driver who was seriously injured in an accident during the 2001 Trans-Am event at Mosport (Ont.) International Raceway. Longo sustained a broken neck in the accident, and has undergone nine surgeries and spent three months in the hospital to repair the damage, which left him temporarily unable to eat or speak. To help Gary and his wife, Molly, defray their considerable medical expenses, the Gary Longo Relief Fund has been established by Kerry Alexander, owner of LAC Motorsports, the team for which Longo drove. "I set up this fund so we could show how much we care about helping Gary and Molly through this," Alexander said. "We all have been praying for Gary. This is an opportunity to take some action on our prayers. I know one day Gary will be okay and completely healed. That is the day we are all praying for. His recovery is going well, but it's slow. And, as always, money becomes an issue." Contributions, payable to the Gary Longo Relief Fund, should be sent to

Gary Longo Relief Fund
c/o National City Bank
9168 Otis Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46216

Attn: Steve Silas, Office Manager

For further information on the Gary Longo Relief Fund, contact Gwen Chamberlain (gwen@kmpracing.com) or Keith Kelly (keith@kmpracing.com) at 607-243-5176 or 877-722-3567.

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AMERISUITES TO SPONSOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD ONCE AGAIN

AmeriSuites Hotels announced Thursday that it will continue its involvement as "Preferred Hotel of the Trans-Am Series," as well as its sponsorship of the prestigious AmeriSuites Rookie of the Year Award for the coming Trans-Am season. AmeriSuites will also continue its Trans-Am sponsorship of the American Spirit Racing team, whose Michael Lewis won the Trans-Am's "Most Improved Driver" Award last year and earned a victory at Road America. "Our sponsorship of American Spirit Racing in the Trans-Am Series has allowed us to reach neew and valuable customers in different markets," said Jim Gard, Vice President of Marketing Services for Prime Hospitality Corp., parent company to AmeriSuites. "We are very enthusiastic about our involvement in the Trans-Am Series and the added exposure the AmeriSuites brand will receive with the new venues and expanded television coverage."

The Trans-Am series will stage three inaugural events in 2002 in key markets such as Miami, Fla., Washington, D.C. and Denver. Three of the series' 12 events will be telecast on CBS Sports, while the other nine are slated to air on Speed Channel (formerly Speedvision). AmeriSuites plans to promote the Trans-Am series with a consumer sweepstakes to be advertised on national cable television. "This year will be an even more competitive and action-packed year for Trans-Am," stated Jon Lewis, President and CEO of American Spirit Racing. "Several champions from other top international series have announced their participation, [and] that will only increase the focus of the media and our fan base. We are very proud to represent AmeriSuites in the longest-running road racing series in North America

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Paul Gentilozzi , Robbie Knievel , Don Sak , Michael Lewis , Tom Gloy , Stu Hayner , Steve Millen
Teams Dyson Racing