TA2 provides American dream for Nathan Herne

Posted on 22 October 2022
TA2 provides American dream for Nathan Herne

TA2 Muscle Car Series graduate Nathan Herne will become the third driver in Australian TA2 history to compete in a round of the American Trans-Am Championship when he makes his international racing debut next month at Circuit of The Americas in Texas.

Herne, the 2019 TA2 Muscle Car Series Rookie of the Year who has 15 TA2 race wins and three pole positions, will make a one-off appearance as part of the Stevens-Miller Racing squad where he will drive a Ford Mustang as part of the factory Howe Racing Enterprises team at COTA.

Herne’s drive was facilitated by TA2 Muscle Car Series founder Peter Robinson in conjunction with Joe Stevens, owner of Stevens-Miller Racing in an arrangement which began in 2018 to send Australian TA2 champions to compete in the United States with assistance from TA2 car constructor Howe Racing Enterprises.

Herne’s American trip will follow two previous visits by Australian TA2 drivers to race with Stevens-Miller Racing in the US. Inaugural TA2 Muscle Car Series Champion Russell Wright raced a Mustang at COTA in 2018, while 2018 champion Ashley Jarvis raced a Camaro at Daytona International Speedway in 2019.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series will have further presence at the event, with TA2 Technical Manager and Motorsport Australia Technical Advisor Cameron Sendall joining Herne at COTA to assist with the team and to gain additional information to enhance the Australian series. 

Herne currently races S5000 for Garry Rogers Motorsport, with the Tasman Series kicking off at next week’s Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500, with Herne set to race at COTA the weekend after.

It will be Herne’s first foray overseas, albeit plans were put in place following the 2019 season to head to the US, but these were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final round of the American TA2 Championship at COTA is on November 4-6.

QUOTES

Peter Robinson - TA2 Muscle Car Series Founder

“We are extremely proud to present opportunities for our Australian TA2 drivers to race internationally, as we have done with former champions Russell Wright and Ashley Jarvis,” said Robinson.

“Joe Stevens from Stevens-Miller Racing has provided an outstanding opportunity to Australian TA2 champions previously, and we are proud to continue our relationship with the team to facilitate Nathan’s opportunity this year which we know he will grab with both hands.

“Rusty and Ashley threatened the podium with their pace during their races in the US, so we know our Australian drivers are competitive when they join the American field.

“Our American visits are also important from a technical standpoint to keep an eye on the latest developments for the TA2 class which we feel will enhance our successful same-spec formula in Australia.

“We are sure everyone in the TA2 community will be following his journey with excitement and cannot wait to see him represent Australia on the world stage.”

Nathan Herne - 2019 TA2 Muscle Car Series Rookie of the Year

“This year was a weird one. I thought to myself the last few years I’ve had in Australia hopefully something was going to happen, but it went into a quiet phase where I just settled and thought this was going to be the end of my racing until next season. All of a sudden this popped up and a few other things are starting to emerge, so it’s pretty cool.

“To go over to the US is something I’ve always dreamed about since I was about 12-years-old, but I quickly wrote that off as soon as I found out how much it cost to go over there. To finally get the opportunity to go over there, I’m keen as mustard and hopefully it’s not the last chance to go.

“After 2019, we were even trying to get over there and test the waters. Back then it was a different proposition because I was unproven and a young bloke who just wanted to get over there to race as a bucket list item, but now it’s turned into something different.

“It’s great that COVID is somewhat behind us as I can go over there to do this and fingers crossed it all goes well.

“We’re with Stevens-Miller Racing. We’ve been talking to team owner Joe Stevens for a couple of years now and the Americans like to keep a keen eye on the Australian series, which they know all about.

“Stevens-Miller Racing is the Howe factory team and in Australia we race the same brand chassis. In America, it’s a bit different with bigger engines, different chassis manufacturers, more aero and a half radial tyre.

“The American TA2 cars are much more like a Supercar than the Australian version, so it will be exciting and fingers crossed it all goes well.

“I’ve got two sessions to get my eye in around the track before official practice starts through Trans Am and Stevens-Miller Racing, which have put that together for me. I’m racing at the Circuit of The Americas, which is a big facility with a lot of blind apexes, so it’s going to be hard to learn.

“I’ve just got to take the pressure off and enjoy it because this is just a bucket list item for me, I’m not really expecting anything to come out of this, but never say never and maybe something will.

“For now, I’m still 100 per cent committed to Australia to see what I can do locally, I have S5000 a week before and the Bathurst International after.”

Joe Stevens

Team owner, Stevens-Miller Racing

“Nathan is a rising talent in many forms of motor racing and undoubtedly a future racing star,” said Stevens.

“His trust in Stevens-Miller Racing and the Howe Racing Ent. group is more than enough reason for SMR to extend the offer and get him over here.

“This partnership also represents a rare opportunity for our company to show why we are special. Nathan will be driving a new Mustang with some of the 2023 development parts from Howe Racing and we also look forward to hearing his feedback on them.

“The challenges for Nathan at COTA will be many as he joins this series at the season finale.

“This group of TA2 racers in the United States can be, at times, rough. First, he will have to be fast in all 20 turns here at COTA - that in itself is no small measure. Next, he will have to battle to and for the front of this pack. All of these things together amount to a big challenge including having to deal with serious jet lag.

“But we believe Nathan will excel at all the challenges presented to him. If he can bond with the team, our cars, and this track, he will continue to shine as he does in Australia.”

 

Maiden round win for Loscialpo after Haynes and Johnson clash

Posted on 2 October 2022
Maiden round win for Loscialpo after Haynes and Johnson clash

Sydneysider Zach Loscialpo has scored his maiden TA2 round win and victory in the 2022 Southern Series in dramatic fashion after runaway leader Josh Haynes clashed with Jett Johnson in the final race of  Round 5 of the TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Race 1 winner Haynes was unchallenged in Sunday's first race, going back-to-back with a three second victory over a fast-finishing Kobelco Mustang of Michael Coulter, while Loscialpo held second for most of the race before he fell back in the closing stages.

Following a mechanical failure in Race 1, Jett Johnson made a stunning charge from 19th to fifth in the NAPA Auto Parts Mustang to earn the Hyperco Hard Charger Award.

Race 3 was declared a non-event after a spectacular first-lap incident at Turn 2. The incident was triggered by contact between Dean Lindstrom, Mark Crutcher and Aaron Tebb which saw Tebb point the wrong way in the middle of the Turn 2 hairpin, before he was collected by Hayden Jackson, Anthony Tenkate, Mick Rowell and Paul Hadley in a concertina. 

All drivers emerged out of their vehicles on their own steam and were cleared by the circuit medical centre, while Lindstrom, Tebb, Jackson, Tenkate and Rowell were ruled out from the final race from damage.

Haynes bolted away at the start of the final race as Johnson, who started fifth, passed Coulter and Stibbs on the first lap to move up to third. Loscialpo fended off every move from Johnson before he passed Loscialpo on Lap 5.

With a significant tyre advantage as a result of the non-showing in Qualifying and Race 1, Johnson reeled in Haynes to be within striking distance for the lead with five laps remaining.

Struggling for tyre life, Haynes managed to hold off Johnson up until the penultimate lap when Johnson got a strong run out of Turn 5 to make his move down the inside at Turn 6. The pair ran side by side around corporate hill as Johnson gained the lead, before Haynes tried to take back the lead at the Turn 8 hairpin.

Haynes locked the rear brakes and made contact with Johnson which turned both drivers around.

Johnson managed to get going before Loscialpo and Coulter caught up to the leaders, however Haynes was stuck in infield and failed to finish, handing Loscialpo his maiden round win from Coulter.

Two top-five finishes earned Mark Crutcher the Circo Masters Class ahead of Nicholas Bates and John Holinger,

Queenslander Nick Lange scored the Wildwood Big Breaker Award, while a consistent weekend in the top-five for Stibbs saw the South Australian finish third outright and earn the RaceTech Rookie of the Round.

Peter Robinson earned the Bowden’s Best Presented Award for a new look on the #10 Wagner Group Dodge.

With one round remaining in the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek, Johnson leads the way by 91 points ahead of Graham Cheney, ahead of Masters Class leader Bates in third.

The final round of the 2022 TA2 Muscle Cart Series framed by Hytek is at Winton Motor Raceway on 18-20 November.

QUOTES

Zach Loscialpo - driver #21 Tempest Solutions/Excelerate Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro

“Really proud to get the round win and the Southern Series title. It’s an awesome accomplishment for the team. We worked hard, the last round was difficult for us but all the work and late nights have paid off this weekend.

“We had a decent practice on Friday, the car was mediocre so we made some changes for Qualifying and smashed out a good lap in the shootout.

“For the first couple of races we tried to keep up with Josh [Haynes], he was definitely the benchmark all weekend. We made some more changes after today, unfortunately Race 3 was stopped by the big crash but our tyre strategy worked in our favour so we had a couple of tyres spare for the last race.

“We had Michael Coulter behind us all race, I was getting a bit nervous towards the end trying to save tyres and bring it home, but yeah stoked to get the round win.

“Can’t thank everyone enough, Waltec Motorsport, Tempest Solutions, my family, my girlfriend, my sister who were all here this weekend and I can’t wait to enjoy it with them.”

 

Haynes returns to victory lane as Johnson encounters trouble in Sydney

Posted on 1 October 2022
Haynes returns to victory lane as Johnson encounters trouble in Sydney

Josh Haynes has scored his second win of the 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek after a commanding lights-to-flag victory in Race 1 at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Qualifying saw championship leader Jett Johnson bring out the red flag after an off-track excursion in the NAPA Auto Parts Mustang at Turn 1 on the first flying lap, as second-round starter Brad Gartner scored a sensational provisional pole in the Castec Rural Services Mustang for MVA Racing, with Haynes second-last out for the shootout.

Nick Bates, who qualified third provisionally, spun his Mustang at Turn 2 on his lap and aborted his lap.

Gartner encountered a mechanical issue during a smoky shootout lap to start sixth, as Haynes set a blistering 1:34.5063 to earn his first career PWR Pole Award by 1.2 seconds from Zach Loscialpo and Lee Stibbs.

Haynes lead from the outset as Johnson began the recovery charge, passing seven cars in two laps.

Gartner retired on Lap 2 after his mechanical issue in qualifying returned in the race. 

Johnson’s day went from bad to worse after suffering a mechanical failure at Turn 1 and sailed into the tyre barriers on Lap 3 which brought out the safety car for three laps to recover the NAPA Mustang.

Haynes gapped the field on the restart and cantered away to win by five seconds over Loscialpo, as Michael Coulter came home strong, passing Lee Stibbs to finish third in the Kobelco Mustang.

Following Johnson’s costly DNF, his championship lead was cut to 74 points to IES Motorsport’s Graham Cheney.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek is back on track for Races 2, 3 & 4 for Round 5, which will be live-streamed on the AMRS and TA2 Racing Australia Facebook pages.

QUOTES

Josh Haynes - driver #17 Elvin Group Chevrolet Camaro

“It was a really good race.

“We started off pole, had a good start and managed to pull a gap before the safety car came out.

“The rest of the race was focussed on conserving our tyres, we have three races tomorrow so we’ll see what we can do, but today was a perfect start to our weekend."

Jett Johnson - driver #117 NAPA Auto Parts Ford Mustang

“We had a pretty good start, I was trying to be cautious after an incident in qualifying, 

“I was trying to take it easy and not make any mistakes and unfortunately coming into Turn 1 on the start of Lap 3 we had an issue which caused the power steering pump to fail through Turn 1 and went straight ahead.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but we’ll jump in and help the NAPA Auto Parts team fix it and reset for tomorrow.”

 

TA2 title charge to continue in Sydney

Posted on 29 September 2022
TA2 title charge to continue in Sydney

The TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek has reached the business end of the season with the penultimate round of the championship at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend, the series’ second visit to the circuit this year headlining the Round 5 of the Australian Motor Racing Series.

A strong 20 car field will take to the track as the series welcomes returning New South Wales-based drivers Michael Coulter, Aaron Tebb, Hayden Jackson and Barry Kelleher. 

After a clean sweep of the last event at Queensland Raceway, NAPA Auto Parts driver Jett Johnson holds a commanding lead of 124 points over IES Motorsport’s Graham Cheney and Nicholas Bates, with 440 points still up for grabs in the final two rounds.

This event doubles as Round 4 of the Southern Series and the final round of the Northern Series. The Northern Series has come down to a three-way fight for the title between Cheney, Mark Crutcher and Nick Lange, with Cheney holding the lead going into the round by 22 points over Crutcher.

Speedway legend Kelleher, 77, returns to the track following a hip-replacement surgery earlier this year and will resume his efforts in the Masters class, where he races against former sprintcar rival Mick Rowell.

New South Welshman Nicholas Bates leads the Masters class by 38 points over Crutcher, with the pair set to continue their battle this weekend.

The Masters class will also be hotly contested by the returning Dean Lindstrom, who claimed class honours on debut at Round 3 at The Bend in April.

After a stellar debut at Queensland Raceway to finish fourth outright, MVA Racing’s Brad Gartner returns for Round 5 and will be looking to close in on the likes of Johnson, Josh Haynes and Zach Loscialpo.

Pro class contenders Lee Stibbs and Masters competitors Warren Wadley, Anthony Tenkate, Peter Robinson, Mick Rowell, John Holinger and Paul Hadley complete the field for this weekend’s event.

The TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek will have four races at Sydney Motorsport Park, with the first three over 12 laps and a 15-lap finale. Track action kicks off on Friday for practice, before Qualifying on Saturday at 9:30am followed by a Top 10 Shootout.

Sunday’s action will be livestreamed on the TA2 Racing Australia and AMRS facebook pages.

QUOTES

Jett Johnson, driver #117 NAPA Auto Parts Ford Mustang

“Last time we were here I made quite a few mistakes while trying to learn the track. We went back and reviewed everything so I’ll be looking to tidy myself up a bit more this weekend. We’ve got a good starting point so I’m feeling pretty confident going into the weekend.

“I’ve got a decent lead in the championship at the moment so as long as I keep finishing races, it doesn’t have to be winning races, just finishing consistently in the top five and hopefully I can be in a position to win the championship.”

Barry Kelleher, driver #3 Ford Mustang

“We’ve been hard at it, we’ve got new tyres, new shocks and I’ve done some work on my driving as well.

“I’ve never had a coaching lesson before but I had Tim Brook come and look at my telemetry and pointed out I wasn’t pressing the brake pedal hard enough, because I’m 77 and had a hip replacement recently and your bones aren’t as strong when you get to my age, and these cars don’t have a booster so it’s a fairly heavy pedal. I’ve made some changes and hopefully that will help me slow down a bit better.

“I raced in the 80s, in 85 in the Grand National against Mick Rowell and then in Sprintcars. Funnily enough Mick would say ‘Barry Kelleher’s the guy I had the biggest accident of my life with’. We were at Parramatta down the back straight, I pulled down on him and he drove over my back wheels and hit the top of my roll cage and kept going up. We junked the chassis and I apologised, it was a racing incident but we both remember it!

“I’m finding it a bit hard after years and years of speedway to go road racing and you hit a brick wall with your lap times. I’m happy being out there, I’ve done a few Sports Sedan and Stock Car races this year in it, so I’m active, anything at Eastern Creek where I can race I’ll hop in it and go racing.

“They’re low-maintenance, wonderful cars and it’s getting pretty serious. There will be sheep stations on the line with Mick Rowell and I this weekend!”

SCHEDULE 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Northern Series, Round 5 - Sydney Motorsport Park, Sept 30 - Oct 2 

Friday Practice 1 - 8:55am (20 minutes) Practice 2 - 10:35am (20 minutes) Practice 3 - 1:15pm (20 minutes) Practice 2 - 2:55pm (20 minutes)

Saturday Qualifying - 9:30am (20 minutes) Top 10 Shootout - 11:35am Race 1 - 2:17pm (12 laps)

Sunday Race 2 - 8:50am (12 laps) Race 3 - 11:20am (12 laps) Race 4 - 2:30pm (15 laps)

ENTRY LIST 2022 TA2 Muscle Car Series framed by Hytek Round 5 - Sydney Motorsport Park, Sept 30 - Oct 2

MASTERS, #3 Barry Kelleher (NSW), Ford Mustang MASTERS, #4 Mark Crutcher (NSW), Ford Mustang - Crutcher Developments MASTERS, #9 Warren Wadley (QLD), Ford Mustang - Wadley Property Group MASTERS, #10 Peter Robinson (QLD), Dodge Challenger - Wagner Corporation PRO, #11 Michael Coulter (NSW), Ford Mustang - Kobelco/Sydney Truck & Machinery MASTERS, #15 Michael Rowell (QLD), Ford Mustang - Pacific Petroleum/Carroll Tyres PRO, #17 Josh Haynes (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Elvin Group PRO, #21 Zach Loscialpo (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Tempest Solutions PRO, #22 Brad Gartner (SA), Ford Mustang - Castec Rural Supplies MASTERS, #23 John Holinger (VIC), Chevrolet Camaro - Holinger Racing MASTERS, #24 Nicholas Bates (NSW), Ford Mustang - Nicholas Bates Motorsport PRO, #28 Lee Stibbs (SA), Ford Mustang - MVA Racing/Arrow Car Sales MASTERS, #30 Dean Lindstrom (SA), Ford Mustang - TDP Mobile Services PRO, #48 Nick Lange, Chevrolet Camaro - Whitsundays Holiday Rentals MASTERS, #50 Paul Hadley (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Illawarra Engineering Services PRO, #51 Graham Cheney (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Illawarra Engineering Services MASTERS, #69 Anthony Tenkate (QLD), Ford Mustang - Tenkate Plant Hire PRO, #81 Hayden Jackson (NSW), Dodge Challenger - Team RSG PRO, #93 Aaron Tebb (NSW), Chevrolet Camaro - Waltec Motorsport PRO, #117 Jett Johnson (QLD), Ford Mustang - NAPA Auto Parts

 

Johnson Dominates TA2 Muscle Car Queensland Round

Posted on 21 August 2022
Johnson Dominates TA2 Muscle Car Queensland Round

17 year old Jett Johnson delivered a dominant lesson in set up and car control to win Round 4 of the TA2 Muscle CAR Series  - framed by HYTEK at Queensland Raceway today.  The reigning Northern Series champ won all four races over the weekend, despite coming under pressure from Josh Haynes in the Elvin Group Camaro. The two youngsters delivered a class performance trading the lead on at least three times in Sundays first race and running side by side for many laps.

A spin by James Simpson of the start at Turn One in this mornings race triggered a three car incident taking out John Holinger and Murray Kent,  Kent high sided the Fit Flask Camaro after coming together with Holinger trying to avoid the Simpsons 782 Motors Dodge. Beric Lynton had strong run to finish 11th after starting rear of grid while Mark Crutcher spun at Turn 4 battling with rookie Brad Gartner. Gartner went on to finish 3rd from Haynes and Johnson, who won by   5 seconds and claimed the fastest lap. Nick Lange in the Whitsundays Holidays Camaro had a stellar drive to 5th

Race 3  also saw Johnson dominate on the green from Haynes, while Graham Cheney had a strong run to push Gartner back to 4th, Dylan Thomas finished 5th in the CXC Mustang  and Mark Crutcher picked up the Hypercoils Hard Charger Award for passing 9 cars.

The final 15 lapper was a test of tyre management, and although Haynes was alongside Johnson again out of Turn 3,  he struggled to stay with Mustang in the later laps dropping to the rear of the field with a deflating tyre. Cheney moved into second, Gartner again impressed in third while Crutcher, Simpson and Lynton rounded out the top 6. Nicholas Bates also ran strong in the Master Class, but faded to 9th on the chequered.

Johnson’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Mustang wrapped up the weekend from Cheney, who finished second overall with his best weekend yet for the IES Camaro team, with Haynes hanging on for 3rd. NSW driver Mark Crutcher claimed the Circo Master Class from Nicholas Bates and Peter Robinson, while Brad Gartner won the Racetech Rookie of the Round and the Wilwood Big Braker Award for an impressive weekend in his first TA2 appearance.

Mick Rowell won the Bowden’s Own Best Presented award in the Pacific Petroleum Mustang.

Highlights from this round will go to air on 7Mate at 2pm Saturday Sept 3 with next round at Sydney Motorsport Park September 30 - Oct 2.

QUOTES

Jett Johnson, #17 NAPA Auto Parts Ford Mustang

“It was a tough weekend as Dad and Team Manager Paul Forgie were at Sandown, however Ben Leeds and the team did a great job in turning the car around between races so I couldn’t be happier with the result.  It was great battling with Josh and it was pretty intense at times but we had a lot of fun.”

Graham Cheney, #51 IES Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro

“We’ve been working away at this for some time, and it’s finally coming together. I have to thank Rhett, and Paul at IES for giving me the opportunity but we had a great weekend and to finish on the podium alongside some pretty special talent is fantastic.”

Brad Gartner, #22 SS Oysters Ford Mustang

“To jump out of a Hyundai Excel into a TA2 car is a big leap, however despite the hiccup we had being underweight in qualifying, the weekend has been superb. Thanks to Cam and everyone at TA2 and my team for helping to get us on the grid, and I would never have believed at the start of the weekend I would end up with a trophy.”

POINTSCORE2022 Round 4 1st: Jett Johnson - 850 2nd: Graham Cheney - 724 3rd: Nicholas Bates - 693 4th: Mark Crutcher - 655 5th: Zach Loscialpo - 652 6th: Dylan Thomas - 641 7th: Josh Haynes - 599 8th: Murray Kent - 575 9th: Paul Hadley - 569 10th: Michael Coulter - 451