A minimum of two functional brake lights in their approximate stock locations are required on all cars competing in the Trans Am Series. They must be plainly visible, unobscured, and function just as they would on a production car. Starting in 2018, all cars competing in the Trans Am Series must also have "...a minimum of two fully operational rain/tail lights to be used during rain/fog sessions, and/or during twilight sessions." They must be used when the track is wet enough to produce spray, and also under foggy / twilight conditions.
Tube-Frame / Silhouette Body
TA class cars are high-performance Grand Touring race cars with a tubular chassis and a Cadillac CTS-V, Chevrolet Camaro / Corvette, Dodge Challenger, or Ford Mustang body (full-scale replica) built by Advanced Composite Products (all eligible cars except Corvette C7) or Derhaag Motorsports (Corvette C6, C7 / Camaro Gen 6 only). Many of the entries carry Chevrolet Corvette bodywork, but there are several Ford Mustangs, a couple of Cadillac CTS-V coupes, and a Dodge Challenger in the class as well. All body types are eligible from the first year of production of the street car to 5 years after production ends. After each car model goes out of production, each body will be partially eligible, and may be used in up to three races per year of eligibility. Two fully functional headlights are recommended but not required.
Power comes from overhead valve (two per cylinder), pushrod, naturally aspirated, carbureted 358 cubic inch (5.86 L) V8 engines, producing anywhere from 850 to 875 horsepower. The minimum base weight (including driver and driver gear) is 2,780 pounds. Fuel cell capacity is 33 U.S. gallons. Current rules allow for the use of leaded gasoline, whereas all other classes must use unleaded gas. The use of Nitrous Oxide (or other similar compounds or systems), fuel additives, and/or fuel cooling, as well as supercharging or turbocharging is strictly prohibited in all classes. Automatic transmissions are prohibited, and manual transmissions must have no more than 5 forward speeds, and a functional reverse speed.
TA2 class rules specify a tubular chassis built by Howe Racing Enterprises, M-1 Motorsports, Mike Cope Racing, or Meissen Enterprises, and a Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang or Dodge Challenger body (full-scale replica) built by either Five Star Racing Race Car Bodies (Gen 6 Camaros and Mustangs), or Howe Racing Enterprises (all other eligible cars), with the Camaro body being the most popular by far. (See current rule book for body eligibility, as it varies according to model and 'Generation') Two fully functional headlights are recommended but not required.
TA2 engines are similar to TA engines, but are fuel injected, and must use restrictor plates, as maximum power is limited to 490 HP. As per current rules, "Nothing may direct or force air to the filter or housing." Transmissions must be commercially available, 'H pattern' manual units with four forward gears (without overdrive) and a reverse. The minimum base weight (including driver and driver gear) for all cars is 3,000 pounds. The costs of shock absorbers, brake calipers & pads, and wheels are controlled, and no titanium or carbon fiber components are allowed, other than the driver's seat. TA2 is currently Trans-Am's most popular class among competitors
The production based TA3 class cars must be of a number of different specified domestic or foreign makes, models, and year of manufacture, from American "muscle cars" to European exotics – such as Aston Martins, BMWs, Corvettes, Camaros, Vipers, Ferraris, Ginettas, Mustangs, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and Porsches. As stated in the current rule book, The "...class is intended for recent model sports cars and new option engine Camaros and Mustangs." But "Additional cars having similar performance capabilities and fitting in with the overall concept of the class will be considered for inclusion in the TA3 class". Eligible cars up to 15 years old will now be able to race in the series, and for 5 years after that, older eligible cars will be able to race in up to 5 races per year of eligibility. Unlike TA4 cars, the current rules allow them to "...compete at a higher level of preparation." Standard body appearance must be maintained, including the OEM grille and badge. Two fully functional (clear or yellow tinted) headlights are required. As with TA4, Tube frames are not allowed, and roll cages are mandatory. Some engines are required to have restrictor plates, for the purpose of equalizing performance. Minimum Vehicle Base Weights may be changed for the same purpose
This class complies more with the "classic" Trans Am standards of the glory era. TA4 class cars must be a modern production-based Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Maserati Grand Turismo MC Trofeo/GT4, Porsche Cayman X51 Gen 2&3, Cayman GT4 Club Sport Gen 3, or 2009 - 2013 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 Gen 1&2. The class is intended to be a competition between late model, nearly stock, high-performance cars. It's an affordable class, and a good place for Trans Am Series beginners to start racing in. As with TA3, some engines are required to have restrictor plates, for the purpose of equalizing performance. Minimum Vehicle Base Weights are adjusted depending on optional components used. Two fully functional (clear or yellow tinted) headlights are required.
In late 2016, the Trans Am Race Company (TARC) announced that after a long absence, the Trans Am Series would return to the West Coast with the 2017 Trans Am West Coast Championship, partnering with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA). The West Coast Championship Series consists of a separate 3 race competition, plus one round that is shared with the Trans Am Championship Series at Circuit of the Americas. (3 permanent road courses / 1 temporary road course)
For 2017, the schedule was reorganized, with five race venues (Homestead-Miami Speedway, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park) receiving new dates, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway being added, and Louisiana's NOLA Motorsports Park being dropped.
For 2018, the Brainerd, MN and New Jersey Motorsports Park races were dropped, and a race at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex was added for the TA, TA3, and TA4 classes only. There are now 12 race venues on the Trans Am Championship Series schedule (8 permanent road courses / 3 temporary road courses / 1 temporary street circuit), with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear race being open to TA2 class cars only. There are actually 13 actual races on the schedule, as the TA2 cars race twice in Detroit.
For 2018, the West Coast Championship's race at Willow Springs, CA was dropped, Sonoma, CA was added, and a shared race at INDY was added, expanding their series to a separate 3 round competition, plus two shared races (3 permanent road courses / 2 temporary road courses).
*Trans Am Series rules and regulations are extensive and detailed. The main rules relating to a Trans Am race are:
- Practice / Qualifying / Warmup / Race / Length
At each race, there are two practice sessions, one qualifying session, an optional warm up session, and the race itself. Since the 1975 season, Trans Am races are ~100 miles in length.
As stated in the current Rule Book, "The normal race length of Trans Am Championship, Presented by Pirelli Races are 100 miles (including the lap that completes the 100 mile length) unless otherwise specified in the Supplemental Regulations or otherwise changed by the CHIEF STEWARD during the course of the event weekend". The CHIEF STEWARD may also limit a race to a certain number of laps, miles, or minutes; whichever comes first. (See current Rule Book for complete information on race length and scoring)
- Multiple Class Race / Grid (Field)
TA, TA3, and TA4 class cars all "grid" (2 fastest qualifiers on the front row, slower cars behind them according to qualifying times) and race together during the same "race session" (as the rule book puts it), using a staggered start with the two slower classes starting their respective races (in order of class) behind the TA class grid, being separated from each other as well. The fastest qualifiers in each of the four classes may choose to start on the left or right of the next fastest qualifier on the front row. TA2 class cars have their own separate race.
- Race Start / Finish
The series uses a rolling start with (or without) the pace car proceeding parallel to the field, and in pit lane, approaching the Starter at the Start/Finish line, who uses a green flag to signal the start of the race for each of the 3 classes (or the TA2 field). In the absence of a pace car, or if additional pace laps are required, the "pole" car for each class will serve the same function as the pace car from its position in the front row. At the completion of the last lap, the Starter waves a checkered flag, signifying the end of the race. All winning drivers, as well as second and third-place finishers (plus any award winners announced over the official race control frequency) are required to attend the Winner's Circle ceremonies at the victory podium/rostrum.
- Fuel / Pit Stops / Tire marking / Tire changes
Trans Am Series racecars carry enough fuel to run the entire race non-stop, making each race a 100-mile sprint that is a test of driver skill and competitiveness. Current rules allow for TA class cars to use leaded (112 Octane) or unleaded (100 Octane) gasoline. All other classes must use unleaded gas. (All fuel is supplied exclusively by Sunoco Race Fuels) Fuel and refueling on pit lane, or on the grid is strictly prohibited. Fueling / refueling is only permitted in the team's paddock space.
Pit stops are neither needed nor required, other than for the purpose of changing over to rain tires, or for some other mechanical or other issue. The pit lane speed limit is 45 miles per hour during all sessions (practice / qualifying / race).
As per the current Trans Am rule book, each team has four dry tires (slicks) per car marked by the Trans Am Technical Staff prior to qualifying. "All cars shall start the race on the same set of marked dry tires that they qualified on, or on the set of dry tires the team had marked prior to qualifying if rain tires (treaded) were used in the qualifying session." Teams are only allowed to change one undamaged tire per pit stop without penalty. All damaged tires may be changed without penalty, and a Trans Am pit lane official must verify the damage. Changing over to (or from) any number of rain tires is up to each Crew Chief, and is not limited.
The series uses flags (six 'advisory' / seven 'mandatory compliance') to communicate with competitors during all qualifying, practice, and race sessions. A "Safety Car" is used to lead the field(s) during all Double Yellow Flag periods. All restarts are single file.
The Advisory flags are GREEN (beginning or resumption of a session, and that the course is clear), BLACK AND WHITE DIVIDED DIAGONALLY (shown once only to the Driver with a number board from the Starter as a Warning for 'Unsportsmanlike Behavior'), BLUE WITH YELLOW DIAGONAL or SOLID BLUE (advisory for competitor following you), YELLOW WITH RED STRIPES (caution, the racing surface may be affected by fluids and/or debris), WHITE (caution, you are approaching a slow moving vehicle), and WHITE WAVED AT START/FINISH LINE (last lap of competition).
The Mandatory Compliance flags are BLACK (shown to the Driver with a number board from the Starter and/or at designated flag station(s) on the circuit. The Driver must report to Series Officials on pit lane for consultation and/or penalty within four (4) laps or face possible additional disciplinary actions), BLACK WITH ORANGE DISC IN CENTER (shown to the Driver with a number board from the Starter and/or at designated flag stations on the circuit to advise of a mechanical problem that may endanger the Driver or other competitors. Driver must report immediately to their assigned pit at reduced speed and may not rejoin the session until released by the Technical Director or his designate), YELLOW (local / partial course caution – must reduce speed and line up in single file – no passing), WAVED YELLOW (use great caution!), DOUBLE YELLOW (full course caution – no passing), RED (the session has been stopped – use caution and proceed immediately to pit lane – no passing), and BLACK AND WHITE CHECKERED (completion of practice, qualifying, or race).
In January 2018, the Trans Am Race Company, LLC (TARC) announced that it had "...reached an agreement with Audible Flagging Systems (AFS), now the Official Flagging System Provider of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. AFS, the industry leader for in-car race flagging systems, will be installed in all Trans Am race cars to warn drivers of caution flags immediately and simultaneously. The system is proven to also minimize secondary collisions, which can be particularly dangerous and damaging."
"The onboard system not only flashes a brilliant yellow light inside the car but also emits an audible warning tone to alert competitors of caution conditions." The new in-car flagging system will be installed free of charge to all Trans Am Series competitors to keep the cost of racing in the series in check. Additionally, the new system is supplemental, and does not replace Race Control, driver spotters, or corner workers (flaggers).
Championships / Awards
Originally, Manufacturers' Championship points were awarded in all classes to the top 6 finishing positions of each make of car: 9-6-4-3-2-1. Beginning in 1972, the SCCA instituted a Drivers' Championship that would be based on overall finishing position from 1st through 10th places: 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1. Beginning in 1990, the top 25 finishers were awarded points as follows: 30-27-25-23-21-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-1.
Currently, Manufacturers' Championship points are earned in exactly the same manner they were originally. (*Vehicles must be classified as finishers to score Manufacturers' points.) Final point standings ties will be decided by which manufacturer has more wins, second-place finishes, etc., as necessary to determine the winner.
Series Champions in each of the four competition classes are determined based on points accumulated during the season. Drivers' Championship points are awarded as follows: At each race, after Qualifying has been completed, 3 points are awarded to the First Qualifier, 2 to the Second Qualifier, and 1 to the Third Qualifier. The top 24 finishers in each class, at each race are awarded points as follows: 30-27-25-23-21-20-19-18-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. All other finishers are awarded 1 point, provided they took the green flag at the start of the race. During each race, 1 point is awarded to any driver leading a lap in class, as well as 1 point for leading the most laps in class for each race. In all classes, the driver's lowest scoring race of the first five events will be dropped, and no Championship points will be awarded for it. (*A driver must be classified as a starter to score Championship points.)
Series Champions are awarded the brand new for 2017 Trigon Trophy (sponsored by 3-Dimensional Services Group, and custom designed by longtime partner Crystal Sensations). According to The Trans Am Race Company, LLC President John Claggett, "The base is shaped as a “D”… The crystal is essentially 3 sided… thus… the Trigon Trophy reflects the sponsorship. And yes… They are beautiful." The Trans Am Series' traditional colors are red and black, and Pirelli's color is yellow, with The Trigon Trophies incorporating those design elements.
New for 2018 is the Trans Am Team Championship, with points being awarded to each car/car number. Multiple drivers may compete in the same car / car number in order to earn points towards the Team Championship. The number of points earned follows the same methodology as in the Driver's Championship (according to finishing position), but as the rule book states, "In addition to the points earned on-track, teams will be judged by several factors that embody a professional team and help promote, and improve, the Series".
2018 also introduces the Northern Cup and Southern Cup Regional sub-championships for teams that either do not wish to, or cannot run the entire race schedule, and have run a limited number of races in the past. There are very specific requirements for entry into the regional championships, as they are intended to allow drivers to try competing in the series before committing to running the full schedule of events.
Also new for 2018 is the Master's Championship, which is intended to recognize drivers still actively competing on the racetrack who are over 65 years of age. Again, the points schedule for driver's championship points will be used. The highest finishing Master's Championship driver in each class will be recognized during the podium ceremony after each race. At the end of the year, the top three Master's Championship drivers in each regional series will be recognized at the series awards banquet.
Rookie of the Year winners in each class are also determined by points accumulated during the season.
After the results of each race are "final", the COOLSHIRT Systems "Cool Move of the Race" Award (If applicable, it is given to the outstanding driver of the race, and the "move" could also be a 'move up through the field'.), pitboxes.com Crew Award, and Traq Gear Crew Chief Award are given out.
*See current rule book for complete information on all Trans Am Series rules and regulations.