Legends of Trans-Am racing will join the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first race and season of the storied Trans-Am Championship this spring. The Spring Vintage Classic at Sebring March 3-6 will feature legendary drivers such as David Hobbs, George Follmer, Willy T. Ribbs, and Lyn St. James. The announcement of their participation was made via press release from SVRA on January 28.
Announced earlier is the participation of Bob Tullius, winner of the first Trans-Am race at Sebring in 1966. Tullius will serve at this event as grand marshal.
According to SVRA, the event at Sebring International Raceway will bring together, among others, former teammates David Hobbs and Willy T. Ribbs. Now a Formula One grand prix analyst for NBC, Hobbs was the Trans-Am Champion in 1983. A member of the Motor Sport Hall of Fame, Hobbs raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 20 times, taking two class wins and two podium finishes. He started in seven Formula One races, four Indianapolis 500s, and two NASCAR Cup competitions. He also competed in an IROC race at Riverside in 1979. In 1971, he was the star of the SCCA L&M Continental Formula 5000 championship, winning five of eight races.
Willy T. Ribbs was Trans-Am’s most prolific winner across three seasons, 1983 through 1985. His 18 victories included 13 for Jack Roush-prepared Mercury-Ford Capris. He was series rookie-of-the year in 1983 when his five wins that season were more than any other driver. Ribbs also tested for Formula One, started the Indy 500 twice — in 1991 and 1993 — and competed in NASCAR and truck racing.
George Follmer was a Trans-Am champion in 1972, taking four victories in an AMC Javelin. He took the championship again in 1976 with Porsche. A multi-talented driver, Follmer also had accomplishments racing in Formula One, SCCA Formula 5000, NASCAR, and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. According to SVRA, “Follmer is also known in Trans-Am lore as Parnelli Jones’s teammate in Bud Moore-prepared Mustangs during the 1969 and ’70 seasons. He raced in the series for Penske in 1966.”
Lyn St. James competed in 53 Trans-Am races, finishing in a top-five position seven times. St. James is a seven-time starter at the Indy 500 and competed in 15 Indy car races in her career. Her accomplishments include racing the 12 Hours of Sebring nine times, winning the GTO class in 1990. At the 24 Hours of Daytona, she was a two-time winner in the GTO class. Both St. James and Ribbs are SVRA veterans, having competed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway historic/vintage racing events there in recent years.
Along with legends, the SVRA weekend at Sebring will also feature group races with its long roster of amateur collectors, owners, and racers. Now numbering 2,000 members, SVRA has a national reach in historic/vintage racing in the United States with events along both coasts and at more premier tracks in between. The organization has 16 racing weekends planned for 2016, all at different venues. For more information about events or membership, see the SVRA website.