A brief history of Trans Am racing

With an apparent resurgence of muscle cars coming from Detroit, many are reminded of the "good ol' days" of Trans Am racing. This particular series mutated from the SCCA's B-Production Sedan class when the decision was made to award a manufacturer's title - a move that eventually dragged Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and AMC into a high-dollar factory-sponsored war for muscle car dominance.

The cars competing in Trans Am were built much like their circle-track "stock car" brethren of the day, with each race vehicle being built on a production-based unibody riding on essentially stock suspension components. Homologation was the rule of the day, and this lead to such street legends as the Camaro Z/28, Boss Mustang, AAR Cuda, and of course the Firebird Trans Am - all of which were equipped from the factory with a bone-jarring ride and oversquare V8s that would make today's high-performance four-cylinders seem downright docile in comparison. It was truly a case of "win it on Sunday and sell it on Monday", unlike today's Trans Am series that consists of tube-framed chassis wrapped with bodywork that barely resembles anything you'd find in a showroom. There were widespread rumors of cheating, which we'd rather think of as creative interpretation of the rules. Considering that Trans Am racing drew some of the more creative characters from NASCAR and drag racing, we have no doubt that stories of acid-dipped bodies, illegal non-factory engine components, and expanded fuel capacity are at least rooted in truth, even if a few decades of bench racing has allowed them to take on a life of their own.

When the manufacturers pulled out in 1971, the golden age of Trans Am racing drew to a close - much like the muscle-car era in general. Fast-forward 38 years or so, and maybe the conditions will be ripe for Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers to once again rub fenders in a big-league racing series. One thing is for certain - production-based racing has never failed to bring better vehicles to consumers, and so without a doubt we'd welcome the sound of uncorked small-block V8s on road courses around the country.

[Source: Car Craft]

More Information