The Trans-American sedan series (Trans-Am) was almost certainly the world’s most famous, most successful saloon-car racing series during the late 1960s and early 1970s. A creation of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), the Trans-Am joined the Can-Am series for Group 7 unlimited sports cars, and Formula A/Formula 5000 series during the mid-1960s as part of the organisation’s resumé, as the club branched out from its amateur roots and into professional road racing.

Mustang v Mustang. Red Dawson is chased by Rod Coppins driving the Mustang in which Pete Geoghegan won the 1966 Australian Touring Car Championship (Photo Steve Twist)

The brainchild of SCCA executive director John Bishop, the Trans-Am series was announced in January 1966, with the first round kicking off just two months later on March 25, as a four-hour supporting race to the annual Sebring 12-hour event.

The Trans-Am series adopted FIA Group 2 touring car regulations, which were used elsewhere in the world at the time, including in the British Saloon Car Championship, European Touring Car Championship, and various European national touring car championships. Group 2 formed the basis for the Improved Production regulations in Australia beginning in 1965, and was also introduced in New Zealand during the 1965/1966 season, as the Motorsport Association of New Zealand (MANZ) began planning the downfall of the Allcomer saloons, which at the time were contesting New Zealand’s national Saloon Car Championship. A special championship was established specifically for Group 2 cars as part of the MANZ evaluation of the regulations as a possible replacement for the Allcomers, and was retained again during the 1967 season.

During the 1968/1969 season Paul Fahey leads a high-speed muscle car contest at Pukekohe, with Dawson and ‘Spinner’ Black giving chase (Photo Steve Twist)

Because the SCCA were a group for whom sports-car racing was at their core, the Trans-Am series thus incorporated those sporty car values, and as such, a maximum engine size of 5000cc, and maximum 116-inch wheelbase was stipulated, specifically to keep the series from being invaded by the NASCAR and USAC stock-car fraternity in their monstrous 7L battleships.

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