RETRO: Drissi’s controversial 2000 Lengthy Seaside Trans Am breakthrough
Tomy Drissi survived a last-lap melee and a controversial choice to attain his first profession Trans Am Sequence offered by Pirelli victory within the Johnson Controls 100, Spherical 3 of the 2000 marketing campaign at Lengthy Seaside.
Drissi was initially checkered because the winner within the No. 15 Drissi Promoting Ford Mustang Cobra, however the victory was then awarded to Johnny Miller within the No. 64 Autonationdirect.com/UPS Corvette when it was dominated that Miller crossed begin/end after the one-hour time restrict expired.
Brian Simo gained the pole within the No. 88 Tommy Bahama Qvale Mangusta, however he misplaced the result in Paul Gentilozzi within the No. 1 Johnson Controls/HomeLink Jaguar XKR on the opening lap. Drissi began sixth, driving for his new Stewart Racing in partnership with Drissi Motorsports staff in Gentilozzi’s 1999 championship-winning automobile.
Simo was compelled to pit with a reduce tire on lap 18, permitting Miller to take second behind Gentilozzi. Miller then took the lead when Gentilozzi dropped out with a damaged valve practice. The ultimate warning waved on lap 30. 4 laps later, the inexperienced and white flags waved to restart the race with one second remaining earlier than the one-hour mark, however Miller truly crossed the stripe on the 1h1m0.733s mark.
“On the restart, Johnny was first, adopted by Chris Neville and I used to be third,” Drissi recalled in a 2021 interview. “We come by way of Flip 1 and I’m sitting there pondering I’d come out standing on the rostrum at Lengthy Seaside. We went by way of the fountain nostril to tail, after which coming to the left-hander onto Pine Ave., Neville obtained into Johnny fairly laborious and shook him unfastened. I went on the surface and we had been three huge going into the right-hander, Seaside Method. I stayed to the left and had an important run and there was simply sufficient room for me to squeeze by. Then they obtained collectively once more and crashed.”
The following wreck took out Miller and Neville, together with Lou Gigliotti and Randy Ruhlman.
“I by no means regarded again,” Drissi admitted. “I didn’t even know they crashed – I assumed they only bumped one another, and I assumed they had been nonetheless on my butt. However I by no means regarded again till I crossed the end line – and there was nobody there.”
Drissi got here round to take the checkered flag on the completion of 35 laps and was posted because the winner, adopted by Willy T. Ribbs within the No. 16 Clover Enterprises Chevrolet Camaro, 3.115 seconds again.
“Willy T. was working a reasonably sturdy race and he was proper there,” Drissi mentioned. “That turned out to be his final skilled podium – and I used to be proud to be on the rostrum with Willy T.”
Following the occasion, race management dominated that the ultimate lap didn’t depend, saying the race ended when Miller crossed the road at 1h1m0.733s. The posted outcomes had been revised, reverting again to the lap 34 scoring of Miller, Neville and Drissi.
Paradoxically, Joe Huffaker – Simo’s automobile proprietor – filed the official protest of the revised outcomes.
“We knew we gained the race, so we determined to let the politics take its course,” Drissi recalled. “We drove our butts off and we knew we gained that race truthful and sq..”
One month later, a Court docket of Attraction dominated that the chief steward didn’t have the authority to revise the race outcomes since he didn’t settle for protests, and the end went again to the initially posted 35-lap outcomes with Drissi because the winner, adopted by Ribbs.
Bob Ruman rounded out the rostrum within the No. 23 Cenweld Company Corvette, adopted by Drissi’s present automobile proprietor, Claudio Burtin his No. 26 Ford Mustang.
Different present rivals included Simon Gregg, eighth within the No. 59 Stoner Transportation Camaro, and Gigliotti, nineteenth within the LG Motorsports/G2 Efficiency Corvette.
Drissi’s first Trans Am victory got here within the third race of his second 12 months in skilled racing.
“My first skilled competitors was in 1999 in Trans Am, and that’s once I began racing,” Drissi mentioned. “I had so much to be taught and managed to win rookie of the 12 months. Then I began out my second 12 months, my third race with a staff we had simply began, and I went from making an attempt to be taught what to do to successful the Lengthy Seaside Grand Prix in my second 12 months. I keep in mind each minute and second of that race! The competitors was fierce. Simply to qualify sixth with that degree of competitors was nice. Then I had just a few good fights and labored my approach up by way of the sphere. It as Lengthy Seaside, simply loopy. An actual avenue combat, and I keep in mind each second of it.
“Now, 21 years later, I’m so pleased to be a part of the Lucas Oil household, working Lucas Slick Mist merchandise for the Burtin Racing Crew. It’s cool that our subsequent race is [WeatherTech Raceway] Laguna Seca, and SVRA goes to have the Historic Trans Am there with the unique 1966-72 automobiles. I’m going to have my 1970 Jim Corridor Chaparral Camaro No. 1 manufacturing facility automobile, and I’m going to run just a few laps to share it with the followers.”
Trans Am will make its West Coast swing beginning with a mixed spherical of the Trans Am Sequence offered by Pirelli West Coast Championship and the brand new Trans Am Professional/Am Problem at Sonoma Raceway April 23-25, adopted by a Trans Am Nationwide race joined by the West Coast drivers at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca April 30-Might 2.
The total Laguna weekend will probably be reside streamed on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App: https://nagrasports.app.hyperlink/onzfSz0r2db