The name ‘TA2’ might sound like the follow-up to an Arnold Schwartzenegger blockbuster, but it’s actually the moniker for a sequel to the iconic Trans-Am Series that’s about to hit Australia.
The name ‘TA2’ might sound like the follow-up to an Arnold Schwartzenegger blockbuster, but it’s actually the moniker for a sequel to the iconic Trans-Am Series – and it’s coming to a race track near you!
America’s Trans-Am TA2 formula has launched in Australia. The TA2 Racing Australia category is already firing on all cylinders, with sizeable grids of modern muscle cars hitting local racetracks in the second half of 2016. TA2 pays homage to the muscle car rivalry of the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-American Sedan Championship which was established in 1966. From its humble beginnings, Trans-Am led to decades of great races and legendary drivers, none greater than the ‘pony car wars’ between 1966 and 1972. This was an era that left a distinct mark not only on the Trans-Am identity, but the global automotive landscape. During this golden era, the series was bolstered by heavy factory involvement, big-name drivers, and cars that were closely related to what could be purchased straight off the showroom floor.
The original Trans-Am also made its mark down under as the American-sourced machines of Allan Moffat (Coke Mustang) and Bob Jane (Chev Camaro) took on the Aussie metal of Beechey and Geoghegan in the Improved Production class that contested the Australian Touring Car Championship.
The retro Australian Trans-Am Series (for late 1960s and early 1970s models) has enjoyed an ever-increasing following in both its native Queensland and south of the Tweed, courtesy of Muscle Car Masters appearances at Sydney Motorsport Park and competing alongside V8 Supercar support category, Touring Car Masters.
The contemporary Trans-Am Series (for cars based on latest generation muscle cars) returned to the US racing scene a few years ago. In 2016 its championship visits such classic American tracks as Sebring, Road Atlanta, Road America, Daytona’s road course, Watkins Glen and the new Circuit of the Americas in Texas. Competition is conducted across four classes – TA, TA2, TA3 and TA4. But it’s the TA2 class that has proven the most popular in both the category’s homeland and via expansion to Sweden, Canada, Costa Rica and now Australia. There’s also a ‘Euro Series’.
TA2 Racing Australia enters the Australian motorsport scene under the management of the aforementioned Australian Trans-Am Series, bringing the ‘old school’ and the ‘new school’ under the same management structure. Australian Trans-Am category director and touring car veteran John English is a member of the TransAm management group and sees a great future for both classes.
“The Australian Trans-Am group has agreed to merge with the new TA2 group of Trans-Am cars to form a strong alliance under one management umbrella and we welcome them onboard for what will be an exciting growth journey for both groups,” said English.
The modern-day Trans-Am Series’ global success stems from a focus on cost control and parity, coupled with an emphasis on driver competition. The TA2 formula utilises a spaceframe chassis constructed by Trans-Am stalwart Howe Racing Enterprises weighing 250kg, a controlled GM Motorsport LS3 engine package developing 525 horsepower, and a choice of a Ford Mustang, Chev Camaro or Dodge Challenger body.
Just like in the historic series, the racecars’ body styling is seen as being as important as performance. The look of the modern TA2 cars is both aggressive and familiar to fans of the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger.
The origin of the class of cars now being produced for TA2 Racing Australia began in 2009 when Swedish business owners Hans Emeren and Tony Bryntesson contacted Charles ‘Chas’ Howe, who operates Michigan-based Howe Racing Enterprises, about building a chassis for a new category known today as V8 Thunder Cars.
With the success of the class in Scandinavia, the cars were adapted to the US market as the Trans-Am Series was revived in 2011. Both the American and Australian builds are 4” wider than the Swedish version and built to accommodate the low-cost 15” wheels and the bias-ply Hoosier racing tyres.
Including the 17 examples of the TA2 Racing Australia cars – nine of which have already landed in Australia and the remainder set to arrive by the end of September – the total number of Howe-built TA2 cars globally now exceeds 220.
This year saw the global debut of the new generation-six Camaro and Mustang bodies, alongside the generation-five Dodge Challenger. In another first, the cars being constructed for TA2 Australia will be the first to run the Australian-made PWR engine coolant radiator and oil coolers. Bob Thorn and Kees Weel of PWR threw full support behind the design and testing of a system to suit these Australian bound racecars, and have impressed the constructors enough to now offer the PWR package to American TA2 teams. Howe is optimistic about the potential for the same type of contagious popularity in Australia that there has been in each country that has introduced the class.
The key to the widespread popularity of the
class is that the cost versus performance is a primary consideration. The TA2 racecar is built on a cost-effective platform, producing speeds that are more than capable of raising eyebrows. The series’ unique one-spec formula sets driver against driver, with skill on the track, not the money spent off the track, what will set drivers apart and propel them to the top of the pack.
TA2 Racing Australia has already attracted the likes of former V8 Supercar privateer and 2014 Australian Trans-Am Champion Craig Harris, former V8 Ute racer Greg Willis, former Touring Car Masters entrant Ian McAlister and former V8 Supercar privateer and chairman of the board at PWR Bob Thorn.
The all-new series launched with a public demonstration at the Shannons 2 Days of Thunder at Queensland Raceway in June featuring four generation-six Ford Mustangs and a generation-five Chevrolet Camaro, before heading to Wakefield Park Raceway for a showcase alongside the Stock Cars Australia category at the AASA NSW State Championships.
Then came TA2’s competitive debut at Lakeside Park on August 6 and 7, where it was joined by sister category, the Australian Trans-Am Series for a muscle car double-header.
TA2 importer Peter Robinson says the class has experienced unprecedented growth and interest since the first cars hit the track.
“Eight more cars are on order from the USA which are due to land in Australia at the end of September, adding to 17 cars in total. In amongst these are two Dodge Challengers.
“I will be heading to the USA shortly to visit with Chas Howe of Howe Racing Enterprises and discuss TA2 Racing Australia. Also on the agenda will be discussions about an international series, as well as the possibility of having guest drivers,” said Robinson.
A car (complete with engine) can be landed in Australia for about $120,000, based on late-August 2016 exchange rates.
More information on the series can be found at ta2racingaustralia.com This story is based on material and information supplied to AMC by Australian Trans-Am Series/ TA2 Racing Australia.
TA2 is a spacefame-chassis and control-engined class with the choice of Mustang-, Camaro- and Challenger-like bodywork.
TA2 is already up and running in Australia. This is Lakeside Park, August 2016.