Young-guns get set for TA2 title campaign

Posted on 27 February 2023

Entries are open for the first round of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series at Winton Motor Raceway on 17-19 March, with a host of names already preparing for an assault at the title this year.

The series will return to the venue of last year’s season finale, where third-generation racer Jett Johnson scored his maiden circuit racing title as he sets his sights on climbing the Supercars development ladder in 2023.

Many teams have already begun their testing programs ahead of the new season, with 2022 race winners Jackson Rice and Josh Haynes announcing a full season campaign in 2023, with the title firmly in their sights.

Rice has been putting in the hours at the Calder Park-based Dream Racing Australia workshop, as he works to continue where he left off last season with a win in the final race at his home track at Winton.

Haynes has swapped his Chevrolet Camaro for a Ford Mustang driven last season by Mick Rowell, with a new naming rights sponsor to be announced before Round 1.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series joins the Hi Tech Oils Super Series for the first round of the season featuring a new broadcast deal which will see live free-to-air coverage on SBS and simulcast on Fox Sports.

Round 1 of the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series takes place at Winton Motor Raceway on 17-19 March.

QUOTES

Jackson Rice, TA2 Ford Mustang driver 

“The TA2 Series is fantastic from so many points of view. From a cost base they’re fantastic for guys like myself to get into to build skills to work our way up, the competition is super close with a lot of fast guys last year and this year, and the cars draw people to the fence, for close competition, they make the right noises and do the right things on track.

“We’ve done a lot of testing and a lot of stuff with the car and with myself with personal training, there’s a large variety of tracks, Darwin will be exciting as not many drivers would have been there, so it’s going to be about who can get on the pace the fastest. 

“I started in cars here at Winton. I have a very close mentor who is a life member at the club and that’s what drew us here initially, but the circuit for competition is great. There’s a whole heap of technical corners, high speed, low speed, many opportunities for passing so it’s a really good track to race at.”

“I think it’s going to be a seriously close year. You always want to go out and compete and be the best and win the title but the competition will be very close this year, so hopefully we do well and bring home the ring.

“We’re carrying through many of the same sponsors this year in Orafol, Pedders, Value Auto Group and all our valued partners for the support this season.”

Josh Haynes, TA2 Ford Mustang driver

"Super excited to be back racing in the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series. This year will be an exciting year with new drivers, new tracks including Darwin and the return of Calder Park.”

“I’m more pumped than ever with a new car and exciting new sponsors joining the team this year so I’m itching to get back on track in anger at Winton in a few weeks.”

 

Trans Am Series and TA2 Muscle Cars extend partnership

Posted on 15 January 2023
Trans Am Series and TA2 Muscle Cars extend partnership
Australian Racing Group, promoters of the Trans Am Series, and PBR Distributions, owners of the TA2 Muscle Car Series, have extended their partnership for another three years with both series continuing to field the same PBR-specification car and componentry. The TA2 Series was founded by PBR Distributions over five years ago, with ARG taking the Trans Am Series on a national scale along with their other suite of motorsport properties, utilising the same spec platform, while the TA2 Muscle Car series continues to grow its strong regional and interstate base. Both series feature the Howe Racing Enterprises built Mustang, Camaro and Dodge Challenger, delivered from the USA as a turnkey race car through PBR Distributions, with on-track spares and support through PBR Technical Manager Cameron Sendall. With close to 100 cars now in the country, both series have had strong competitor support. Nathan Herne wrapped up his second Trans Am Series title last year, while Jett Johnson, grandson of Dick and son of Steve, won the TA2 Muscle Car Series at the final round at Winton Raceway. The opening round of the national Trans Am Series will be held at Symmons Plains in February, while the TA2 Muscle Car Series kicks off at Winton in March.
QUOTESLiam Curkpatrick. Chief Operating Officer - Australian Racing Group "The partnership that we have established has matured over the past two years, and it's great to solidify our position with PBR for the next three years," "The best part of the deal is that it gives all comers to Trans Am racing in Australia lots of options. With the way that the calendars align, you could be racing more times than most other major categories.” "Interest in our Trans Am series is at an all-time high, and we feel that maintaining the relationship and alignment with PBR and TA2 is important for the future of the class in Australia." Craig Denyer, Category Manager - TA2 Muscle Car Series “This relationship has worked well as it clearly puts the competitor first and helps keep the costs controlled," said Denyer. "The same specification car for both series gives all teams the opportunity of competing at the level they can best afford, at the tracks they would like to compete at. They can race Trans Am one weekend, and the TA2 Muscle Car Series the following weekend if they choose, as many of them do, and nothing has to change on the car." "We are looking forward to another successful partnership as both series continue to support each other, delivering great on track action and worthy series champions.”
 

Nathan Herne set for full-time American Trans Am venture in 2023

Posted on 12 January 2023
Nathan Herne set for full-time American Trans Am venture in 2023
Two-time Turtle Wax Trans Am Series champion Nathan Herne will leave Australian shores in 2023, bound for his first full attack on the American Trans Am Championship. Herne, 20, will drive for Stevens-Miller Racing, the same team that he raced with in his one-off drive at the Circuit of the Americas in November where he finished a sensational fourth on his international motor racing debut. The Stevens-Miller team has also confirmed that architectural and interior design company CUBE 3 will be the title sponsor of Herne’s 2023 racing program. The Lismore, NSW born and raised driver will set off to the States in January where he will call both Indiana and Michigan home. He will split his time between the two famous states with Indiana being the home of Stevens-Miller Racing, while he will also reside in Michigan, close to the base of Howe Racing Enterprises, the constructors of the chassis that he will drive in the American Trans Am Championship. Like his efforts in the Australian Turtle Wax Trans Am Series, Herne will drive a Ford Mustang-bodied TA2-specification car. The actual car he will drive will be brand-new, built by Howe Racing Enterprises to the latest-spec. It has been a successful, and at times tumultuous rise for Herne to reach the new heights of 2023. Herne finished rookie of the year in the TA2 Muscle Car Series back in 2019 and, after the COVID-induced break in 2020, was set for a debut in the Bathurst 1000 that year, only to be rejected due to a shortfall in Superlicence points. He bounced back by stepping up to the national Trans Am title, winning the 2021 and 2022 titles with Garry Rogers Motorsport. Two weeks ago, Herne also wrapped up the prestigious S5000 Tasman Series for GRM. The American Trans Am Championship regularly features big fields of cars, contested by young aspiring stars and full-time professionals. The 2023 American Trans Am Championship will feature 12 rounds, competing at some of the great racing circuits of the USA including Sebring, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, plus the Detroit and Nashville street courses supporting INDYCAR. The championship kicks off at Sebring on February 23-26, 2023.
QUOTES Nathan HerneDriver, American Trans Am Championship “It doesn’t feel real to be honest, I don’t know how to feel right now. Joe Stevens and Howe Racing are really putting all their eggs in my basket to try and win the 2023 title, so it’s daunting, but also pretty cool,” said Herne. “They want to get the championship. It is very competitive over there, and there are a bunch of NASCAR teams now putting their junior drivers and main game drivers in the category to groom them for NASCAR. NASCAR is going more towards the road course route and TA2 over there is the biggest road racing series they have, so it’s a bit of a pinch yourself moment to think I’ll be in the category in just under 2 months time. “I’ve had a taste of the racing and the class at COTA, and it was very eye-opening. It was the first time in my racing career that I’d thought “gee, I could be out of my depth a bit here,” but I went well in my first race. I proved that I was one of the fastest drivers there, and I want to put in a good fight for the championship. “I don’t want to set any expectations. I know I’m going to give it everything I have, and if worse comes to worse, I’ll come back to Australia with a years bucket list ticked off, but best case, I stay in the states and build on a great year and make the most of the opportunity. “There’s some huge names coming next year. Richard Petty’s grandson is driving. Being in Australia, you look at the Americas and you think that racing there is unattainable. Now to have the chance to be racing against some bloody good drivers is a pinch yourself moment. “we’ve worked hard to make it happen. Stevens-Miller and Howe have moved heaven and earth for me to be there, so I want to reward them with results. “Trans Am in Australia has been big for me. I started in TA2 in 2019, when the series itself was starting to gain momentum and then I cut my teeth in the ARG Trans Am series, and it was a lifesaver. I couldn’t afford to go to Supercars - I never had the finances, so Trans Am was a lifesaver. The series has grown in Australia and you can see that it is making big strides. Personally, it is the category that has given me a shot at a career in the sport, where otherwise I would be out. “I can’t thank GRM and Valvoline enough for giving me a shot and keeping me racing. I don’t know how to pay everyone back who has helped me get this far in Australia, I don’t think I will be able to. I just appreciate everyone’s help, and hopefully Trans Am becomes a pathway for young guys coming out of Formula Ford, not everyone can afford the big-budget categories, and I guess you can say I’m being a guinea pig for the guys like myself to push and break through the hurdles here in Australia. I think what I am doing proves that this is a genuine pathway for young drivers, the worlds a big place and we do forget that, I never thought America was an option, and I was bloody stressed midway through the year about how I sat in the Australian Motorsports landscape, although the Trans Am series has put me on this pathway, so I just have to sit down and strap in and see where this leads to.” Joe StevensOwner, Stevens-Miller Racing “I am excited to announce that Stevens-Miller Racing (SMR) has partnered with the talented professional driver Nathan Herne for the upcoming 2023 TA2 season,” said Stevens. “Nathan brings a wealth of racing experience and impressive accomplishments to our team, and we are confident that his skills behind the wheel will propel us back to winning championships. “Additionally, we are thrilled to expand our partnership with CUBE 3 as our newly appointed title team sponsor. With their innovative designs and our dedication to pushing the limits of what is possible in motorsports, I believe that our collaboration will be nothing short of exceptional. I look forward to seeing the results of our team's efforts and can't wait for the season to begin. Barry RogersGarry Rogers Motorsport “We are tremendously proud of what Nathan has achieved during his time with GRM which all began back in 2020 when we tested him in a Supercar,” said Rogers. “Nathan had just turned 18 years old, and Garry was so impressed with Nathan that it motivated him to enter a Bathurst Wildcard. “Unfortunately, Nathan was not given an exemption for a Superlicence although only 1-point short of automatically qualifying for one and the opportunity to race at Bathurst was gone. Subsequent rule changes to the Superlicence system that required drivers to compete in Super2 saw Nathan’s opportunity to race at Bathurst dissipate as the funding for such a program was not available. “Nathan put his head down and bum up and showed immediately his driving talents in Australia’s fastest race cars, the S5000’s and dominated the past two Trans Am seasons. We are so happy that Nathan has been given an opportunity in the US and it illustrates to young drivers there are many opportunities out there for those who have the talent and not necessarily the budget. “Nathan joins a long list of ex-GRM personnel to head overseas to further their Motorsport careers including James Small (Nascar Crew Chief), Ian Studley (F3 and GT lead mechanic), Pierre Luigi Orsi (Mercedes F1 engineer), Dexter Chiew (Alpine F1), Chris Harris (Renault F1) and Scotty McLaughlin (INDYCAR driver).”
 

Live free-to-air television coverage for TA2 Muscle Car Series in 2023

Posted on 13 December 2022

2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series Calendar

Round 1 - Winton Motor Raceway (VIC), March 17-19 (Southern Series)Round 2 - Hidden Valley Raceway (NT), April 29-May 1 (Northern Series), Two-Driver EventRound 3 - Queensland Raceway (QLD), June 2-4 (Northern Series)Round 4 - Morgan Park Raceway (QLD), July 8-9 (Northern Series)Round 5 - Sydney Motorsport Park (NSW), October 13-14 (Southern & Northern Series)TBC - The Bend Motorsport Park (SA), October 27-29 (Southern Series)Round 6 - Calder Park Raceway (VIC), November 24-26 (Southern Series)

Two brand-new circuits and a marquee series of races in the top end highlight the 2023 TA2 Muscle Car Series calendar announced today, which will include a new free-to-air television deal with SBS, plus live coverage on Fox Sports.

The series will headline all six rounds of the newly-announced Hi-Tec Oils Super Series calendar in 2023 as well as a standalone southern region round in the planning stages at The Bend Motorsport Park. 

The six Super Series rounds will boast live free-to-air television coverage on SBS on the Sunday of each race weekend and simulcast on Fox Sports, extended coverage on weekly motorsport show Speedweek and a magazine-style show in between events as well as an expanded live streaming package.

The season will commence where it concluded a sensational 2022 series at Winton Motor Raceway. Victorian circuits will bookend the calendar with the grand finale at the revived Calder Park Raceway.

Calder Park has been a dormant circuit racing venue since 2008, with the Super Series finale to mark the circuit's return as a host of national-level motorsport.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series will make a highly anticipated racing debut in the Northern Territory, with Hidden Valley Raceway set to headline the first Australian TA2 two-driver series of races.

South-East Queensland will take in Rounds 3 and 4 in Winter, with Queensland Raceway hosting Round 3 in June followed by Morgan Park in July.

The fifth round will be a Friday/Saturday day/night fixture at Sydney Motorsport Park on October 13-14 which will combine rounds for both the Northern and Southern regional Series.

South Australia will host the penultimate round of the TA2 Southern Series at The Bend Motorsport Park on October 27-29, before the Calder Park finale in late November.

The popular Northern and Southern regional point score concept will return in 2023, with all rounds except The Bend featured as part of the new Hi-Tec Oils Super Series. Hidden Valley, Queensland Raceway, Morgan Park and Sydney Motorsport Park will double as Northern Series point scoring rounds, while Winton, Sydney, The Bend and Calder will be included as Southern Series rounds.

The overall winner of the TA2 Muscle Car Series will receive the TA2 Championship ring valued at over $5000, plus a fully refreshed exchange race engine valued at $22,000 subject to terms and conditions. Second and Third in the series will also receive gearbox and rear end exchange units respectively as part of the series prizes.

17-year old third-generation sensation Jett Johnson won the TA2 Muscle Car Series this year, and is working towards the Supercars ladder in 2023, while the Northern and Southern Series were claimed by Graham Cheney and Zach Loscialpo respectively, while Brett Niall won the inaugural TA2 King of the West title.

The TA2 Western Region point score will also commence in early March and feature events at both Wanneroo Raceway and the Collie Motorplex throughout the year.

Further event details and formats for 2023 rounds will be confirmed in the new year.

QUOTES

Craig Denyer, TA2 Muscle Car Series National Category Manager

“Our plan has always been to give drivers the opportunity to race at as many different tracks as possible, so to include Hidden Valley and Calder Park is awesome.

“We are looking at doing something quite special for Hidden Valley, working with the event promoters and the Hi-Tech Super Series team to come up with a concept where both drivers can earn championship points and have a two-driver finale with a compulsory driver change.  It’s early days and work in progress at the moment, however it should be exciting and a great point of difference.”

Josh Haynes, driver #37 Ford Mustang

“My first thoughts when I saw the calendar was wow! 

“To be racing down in Victoria at historic tracks such as Calder Park as well as taking on the very loved Hidden Valley Raceway in the Northern Territory is an absolute privilege. 

“Next year is going to be such an exciting year full of new tracks, drivers and battles, and I am more pumped than ever.

“The Team and I are working hard to prepare our new mustang for 2023. With the first round fast approaching already we are looking forward to showing everyone what we have in store.”

 

Johnson wraps up TA2 Muscle Car Series Title

Posted on 20 November 2022
Johnson wraps up TA2 Muscle Car Series Title
In front of grandfather Dick and father Steve, Jett Johnson became another third generation driver to win a major touring car title by claiming the TA2 Muscle Car Series - framed by HYTEK at the final round at Winton Raceway. The series battle came down to the wire, with Johnson’s NAPA Auto Parts Mustang taking the title by 108 points from the Illawarra Engineering Services Camaro of Graham Cheney, with Nicholas Bates Mustang in third overall and winner of the Circo Master Class. Cheney battled all weekend to finish after suffering a lung infection and spending time in ECU in the lead up to the weekend. Race 2 started on a wet track with Jackson Rice on the move early to take Michael Coulter and Peter Robinson, and then Johnson for third. Series front runner Mark Crutcher had an off at Turn 11 which brought out the safety car to set up a one-lap dash to the flag, with Kyle Gurton winning from Brad Gartner and Rice. The track was dry for Race 3, however a touch between Bates and Johnson at Turn 3 saw Bates off the road while Gartner grabbed the lead off the start. Mark Crutcher retired with a broken ball joint, while Bates also pitted before returning to add to his points tally. Gurton started to pressure Gartner’s before Rice joined the party to slot into second, with Gartner going on to set the fastest lap and take his maiden TA2 win from Rice and Gurton, as Johnson crossed the line to secure the TA2 title with one race to spare. The final race saw Johnson hit with a five-second penalty for being out of line on the rolling start, however it mattered little with the series already beyond question. Gartner, Rice and Gurton turned on a great show at the front of the field, before Gartner arrived full steam into the Turn 8 sweeper and slid into the infield on Lap 3 and rejoined in third. Crutcher was up to seventh from the rear of the grid, while Rice went on to win his first TA2 race from Gurton, Gartner, Johnson, Michael Coulter who was having a strong run and Peter Robinson who wrapped up the Circo Master class for the weekend. Gurton claimed his maiden TA2 round win and RaceTech Rookie of the Round honours from Gartner and Rice, as Rice came away with the Bowden’s Best Presented Award in the IMMIX-sponsored Mustang. Brad Gartner scored the Hyperco Hard Charger Award for passing ten cars in Race 1, while Michael Coulter earned the Wilwood Big Braker Award for a solid weekend in the Kobelco Mustang. Johnson now sits alongside another third-generation racer in Aaron Seton to have won a TA2 title.  Cheney finished the season in second overall from Nicholas Bates in third who claimed the Circo Master class series win and the Racetech Rookie of the Year Award.
QUOTESKyle Gurton, #2 Nuveau Constructions Ford Mustang "Those last two races Jackson got his stuff together. We really had to push and fight for it and tried for a mistake, but Jackson was flawless in that last race and managed to take the last race win. "This was just a bit of testing towards the end of the year. We were just testing some different things with the car, but it is always good to come out and have a crack at the same time, but maybe next year we will be in TA2 a bit more hopefully.” “Awesome round from TA2 and Hytek, awesome for AMRS for putting it together. Thanks to all the officials and sponsors who made this happen." Jett Johnson, #117 NAPA Auto Parts Ford Mustang “I want to firstly thank all the guys on the spanners for me and making all this happen without Benny, TG and Dad we would not be here. All the sacrifices Dad has made and Mum for everything they do for me. "I want to thank all my sponsors NAPA, Shell, Pirtek and everyone else for all the support they have given me and believing in me, it's just incredible.” Nicholas Bates, #24 Precious Metal Panel Beating Ford Mustang “Its nice to have some guys to race at the same pace, it is very competitive but a whole lot of fun. "I am very happy, I can’t thank my crew enough cause we finished every race and I have made a mess of it sometimes but they have cleaned it up so it is pretty much down to them.”