Cars & Stars Swarm to SVRA’s 50th Anniversary Homage to Trans-Am On March 3-6
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s (SVRA) Sebring event on March 3-6 saluting the 50th anniversary of the Trans-Am series continues to attract some of the greatest racing stars of the sport. Versatile Canadian super star Ron Fellows has been entered by Dave Roberts, Executive Chairman of the Carlisle Company, to drive his yellow Z28 1969 Camaro. The car is modeled after the Team Penske racer that won the 1969 Trans-Am championship. Fellows will race in the SVRA Group 6 races and this will be his first time competing with America’s premier vintage racing organization. Roberts, a regular driver with SVRA, also plans to compete in six of the Sebring events with a 2006 Pontiac GTO.
Fellows will join other legendary drivers such as event grand marshal Bob Tullius, George Follmer, Willy T. Ribbs, Lyn St. James, David Hobbs and Tom Yeager to greet fans and help celebrate the Trans-Am milestone. Today’s TransAm series will also be on hand to share the iconic Sebring stage with hundreds of SVRA vintage racers as well as the Historic Trans-Am Association with their authentically preserved race cars once driven by icons such as Parnelli Jones, Mark Donohue and Dan Gurney. Some of these authentic, documented cars are easily worth more than $1.5 M.
“The response to our tribute to the Trans-Am series’ 50th anniversary has been phenomenal,” said SVRA President & CEO Tony Parella. “I was so delighted to hear from Dave that he had offered Ron a ride it was hard to contain myself. I wish every race fan could get the word about what we are doing because we truly have the cars and stars spanning every era of Trans-Am racing with us.”
“I believe historic racing is growing,” said Fellows. “My generation has the money and the interest and that’s important because we need to do what we can to get our kids acquainted with our sport.”
Fellows, 58, built an exceptional career in auto racing both at the wheel and on the business side. He is one of Trans-Am’s most prolific winners with 20 overall victories, but that is just the tip of an iceberg of success. During a driving career that dates back to the early 1980’s he amassed an amazing record of championships and victories across a dazzling array of disciplines. Just some of his major accomplishments include 25 ALMS wins from 2000 through 2006 where he also won three consecutive GTS class driver’s championships. He was the overall winner in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 and brought home two first-place GTS class trophies at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001 and 2002.
In some corners of the sport Ron is best known for his NASCAR accomplishments in all three of the sanctioning body’s top series: Sprint Cup, Nationwide (now Xfinity) and trucks. Referred to in the media as a “ringer,” Ron was one of the drivers teams brought to road courses because of their exceptional abilities in that discipline. He was particularly successful in Nationwide where he picked off four victories to go along with eight other top five finishes. In the truck series he scored two wins and two thirds in just 15 races. Always a threat in his 25 Cup appearances he earned five top ten finishes including two as runner-up.
Fellows began to wind down his driving career in 2008 but returned in 2010 with Dave Roberts’ assistance to compete in three SCCA World Challenge GT races, winning two of them. His most recent Trans Am appearance was a one-off deal in 2014 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) where he shocked the field by scoring an overall win after an 18-year absence.
Fellows now co-owns Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as well as the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort near Las Vegas. His school uses Corvettes, one of his sponsors, which is an extension of Fellows’ long relationship with General Motors that has focused on the Corvette since 1999. The company went so far as to announce a Ron Fellows Championship Edition Corvette Z06 in 2007. The Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame driver (inducted in 2013) understood early on that a career in auto racing was as much about how you conduct yourself off the track as on it. His winning personality factored heavily in fans voting him ALMS driver of the year four consecutive times, 2004-2007.
Roberts, who is active in the sport on many levels, entered two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Montoya in one of his SVRA racers at Sebring in 2014. One the businesses his Carlisle holding company has in its portfolio is Hawk Performance, which supported Montoya’s winning Penske entry in the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Hawk Performance also sponsors the SVRA. Roberts has co-driven with Indy Lights champion and Indianapolis 500 veteran Alex Lloyd in the last two SVRA Brickyard Invitational Indy Legends Pro-Am races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Ron is a good friend and we have talked about going vintage racing together for some time,” Roberts said. “Knowing about the SVRA Trans-Am tribute at Sebring and Ron’s 20 career wins in the series I bounced the idea of driving my Group 6 Trans-Am car off him. I think it took him all of six seconds to say, ‘How can I pass up that offer!”