Granted amnesty, Tomy Drissi teams up with Tony Ave Racing for runner up at Sebring in Trans Am 2017 opener
Starting from eighth, Drissi moved through the field and was awarded second (behind the winning Mustang of Cliff Ebben) after Trans Am officials disqualified David Pintaric and his Caddy for a wing that violated the rules.
Recall that Drissi, who has enjoyed success in TA, NASCAR Nationwide, ALMS and World Challenge over the years was banned from the series after purposely wrecking Amy Ruman at Mid-Ohio in August 2015, a “speed bump” on her way to winning the first of two consecutive championships.
Trans Am was smart businesswise, to relent and reinstate Drissi. He was even honored for making his 100th career start. The Hollywood based driver has the budget to run the full series and brings extra exposure via his company that provides theatres with cardboard displays of characters in movies seen across the country. At Sebring his # 8 TA Corvette publicized “Ghost in the Shell”. That livery will change to new films over the season.
Drissi’s last minute entry was made possible by Tony Ave through a deal with Charles Wicht to buy back the # 75 TA C7 Corvette and prepare it in time for the race.
The same fate, a shortage of cars, stands in the way of 2016 title contender Paul Fix. Tony Ave Racing reportedly has a build in the works.
Picking up from last year, newcomer Vinnie Allegretta from Hampton Bays Long Island New York is making an impression, finishing 3rd driving a C7 GT1 Corvette acquired mid-season last year from Tony Ave.
Two - time champ Amy Ruman finished 5th in Rocketsport chassis upgraded over the winter with a C7 body acquired from David Pintaric.
Andrew Aquilante, Phoenix Performance T1/GT2 had to give up the TA3 class lead with clutch failure on lap 16 of the 27 lap race. Losing a good shot to win over Porsche & BMW was disappointing for Corvette fans.
Claudio Burtin in his # 7 Go Share Corvette was excluded and was placed on probation for 6 months for unsportsmanlike driving against # 03 Jim McAleese.
Photos thanks to Chris Clark & Larry Van Scoy
The Trans Am starts off a promising new season with additional backing and marketing from Tony Parella, CEO of SVRA and a new tire deal with Pirelli.
Homestead is next on April 9.