Friday 25th March 1966
The first Trans-Am series race, the longest running racing series in the US was run at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida, US. Future Formula One World Champion Jochen Rindt took the overall victory and Bob Tullius won the Over 2 Litre class.
Race promoter the late Alec Ulmann, wanted to hold a Preliminary Event as a “curtain raiser” for the bigger 12 Hour race for all of the factory sports cars. As SCCA and a few of the European Sanctioning Bodies had started some “sedan or saloon racing”, it was decided to do what was called “The Four Hour Governor’s Cup Race for Sedans”. The turnout for cars/entries was good at forty four but that first crowd was small.
The race would host two FIA Classes, Under 2 liters and Over 2 liters. Typical of early Trans Am Races was that only 9 of the starting field were in the Over 2 Liter Class. There was one Dodge Dart, three Ford Mustangs, three Plymouth Barracudas and two Chevy Corvairs, yes really Corvairs Ralph Nader! Of the 32 Unders, six were Alfas, two were the factory backed Lotus Ford Cortinas and the rest of the field comprised some Mini Coopers, Volvos,BMWs an Opel and even a Volkswagen. Probably the most notable and famous driver at the time that was in this race was none other than AJ FOYT. At that time Foyt had won the Indy 500 twice and had been USAC National Champion a number of times. AJ was running a nicely prepared white with blue twin stripes Ford Mustang “notchback” # 4.
At the start of the race, AJ took the lead followed by Bob Tullius in a Dodge Dart with up and coming F1 driver Jochen Rindt in third in an Alfa Romeo GTA prepared by the Autodelta Team. Later in the race, Foyt had to pit for six laps that put him out of contention and it was Jochen Rindt that won this “Inaugural” race in an Under 2 Liter Alfa with the Dodge of Tullius in second place. The Mustang of Dr. Dick Thompson set the fastest lap of the race but Thompson finished last after only completing 28 of the Winners 67 laps in the timed 4 hour race.
So it is very ironic that in a race series known for it’s American Pony/Musclecars and later huge rivalries and factory car wars, that a U2 Alfa actually was victorious over the first Trans Am heavy iron from Detroit.