Trans Am Racing with Burtin Racing
Photo by Seth DeDoes

I remember watching Trans Am back in the day when Tommy Kendall was dominating. In 2019, Lawrence Loshak won the first two races in the Burtin Racing Camaro. Teammate Tomy Drissi followed with a second place at the second race. Oh yeah, they qualified 1-2 for both races too. They invited us to hang out at the Laguna Seca round and we’re not one to turn down an opportunity to check out what it takes to make a winning combination of humans and machines.

If you haven’t kept up with Trans Am, we’ll give you the quick rundown on the TA class cars the Burtin team races. The quick and dirty is: tube frame chassis with a live-axle rear, 800+hp carbureted V8s, 5-speed transmissions with reverse, basic aero, and no driving aids. So yeah, they are basically full-size 800+hp go-karts that I bet are a riot to drive!

Trans Am cars have a minimum weight of around 2840lbs which in the motorsports world, is on the heavy side. Therefore, both of the side bumper openings are used to feed cooling air to the brakes.

This is the backside of the bumper (duh) where you can see the brake duct hoses attached.

Massive vented 2-piece rotors with Alcon 6-piston calipers convert the kinetic energy to heat in hauling the car down from speed. Trans Am TA class cars use a single wheel nut as opposed to the multi-lug of their distant NASCAR stock car cousins. Note the center lock hubs, just the thing for fast tire changes.

13 comments

  1. Fun fact – the Ave Riley chassis Burtin is running is derived from the Riley GT3-R Vipers from a few years back; that’s what the notch is for. I honestly wonder about the economics of making these things – I can imagine that it was less expensive to convert spare chassis from that to live axle than it would have been to make new ones, for example.

    There’s no requirement to run centerlock wheels or anything, and most of the races are sprint races. The Pancho Weaver built Challenger that Boris Said was running last year was on 5-lug wheels, for example. I think that it may be just where a lot of teams have existing spare parts, plus it’s easier to design the uprights with good geometry for centerlock wheels.

    If you know what you’re looking for there’s a lot of interesting details going on and things are a lot more sophisticated than they might seem. I love stuff like this – pure purpose built race car with no concessions to the original OEM compromises but brute simple enough that they can be maintained. Where else are you going to see road race cars that are at that power level but almost purely mechanical grip? Those rears are around 14″ wide. Hell, I know some of the teams are migrating to sequentials lately, but most are still running H-pattern transmissions!

      1. Hi Mr. Khiem Dinh. I’m just curious if you’re Vietnamese (noticing your familiar name). If yes, could you pls drop me your email address so we can contact in person? I’m from Vietnam, interested in automotive but still quite new to this area. Thanks in advance!

    1. The most recent rule book I can easily find is 2017; carburetors are required but ignitions are open as long as there’s an 8600RPM rev limit and no traction control. Rule book I found is here if you’re interested: http://gotransam.cdn.racersites.com/assets/2017%20Trans%20Am%20Series%20By%20Pirelli%20Rule%20Book%20v1%20(1-15-17)1.pdf

      From following along and talking to people involved, current incarnation of Trans Am kind of started as something organized by the more serious SCCA GT-1 guys; the older ex-Cup 358s turned into the defacto standard for cost savings, and now are the actual standard. Even with it being a pro series again, I don’t think anyone really wants to start a spending war.

      1. The downside to going fuel injection is likely having to go to a spec ECU to prevent cheating with traction and stability control. So they would have to follow the path of NASCAR I think.

  2. am I the only one that wants to see one of these with something like an M5 V10 engine in it…? I know it wouldn’t be legal for the race series, but it’d make for a great track car 😀

      1. SCCA is trying a club level “GTX” class, for FIA GT3 cars, SRO GT4 cars, World Challenge TCR, old Grand Am GT cars, and GT-1/TA stuff with EFI and a little more aero allowed. Chevy R07, Ford FR9, Dodge R6 and Toyota Phase 11 allowed with 90mm throttle body – I wonder if they’re sorta trialing things there before people lobby for them in the pro series.

      2. I actually like the low level of aero. It makes the cars slide around more and maybe for better passing.

        1. It’s really cool because none of the modern GT cars make pace the same way Trans Am does. Like, compare to the C7R IMSA/etc cars… lap times are pretty similar, weight is similar, but the Trans Am cars are up by 300-some hp.

  3. Most of the cars are sequential 5 speed now (since 2017) The Xtrac used here is also used in a small number of stadium trucks and the narrower gear versions previously in WTCC and GT3 BMWs. Saenz, Hewland and a few others started catering to the new rules 5 spd sequential for 2017. I liked the H-Pattern rules and use an Ex Corvette GT1 Saenz in my car but even I want a sequential:) (and I have an Xtrac transaxle waiting patiently for me to design parts)

    1. How do you like the Saenz? I’m looking into H-pattern options (their lower powered ones given what I’m using it for) in case my frankenstein close ratio synchro box idea doesn’t work.

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