It was an impressive TCX class debut this weekend at Sonoma Raceway for college student Jacob Ruud as he drove the all-new #81 Light Speed/Classic BMW BMW M2CS Racing Cup sports car to double feature victories in the TC America 40-minute sprint season openers at the legendary Sonoma Raceway.
Ruud, the 21-year-old racer from Racine, Wis., captured the pole position at the 2.52-mile, 12-turn road circuit and took a 1.652-second win in Saturday’s TCX main event over his Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW teammate Tommy McCarthy of nearby Mountain View, Calif., in the #27 Du-All.com/Classic BMW BMW M2CS Racing Cup machine.
Saturday’s win by Ruud was the first victory for the BMW M2CS Racing Cup car in the United States.
In the Sunday’s TCX contest, Ruud left little doubt with a sensational 11.908-second triumph in the 20-lap sprint event over McCarthy, who made his TC America debut this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. McCarthy had not driven in the new BMW M2CS Racing Cup car until Friday’s practice rounds but showed his talent quickly with superb times. In fact, he led the first practice session overall with TCX, TC and TCA cars.
Saturday morning’s TCX qualifying saw wet conditions early before Ruud recorded the pole. And the Rochester Institute of Technology student actually recorded a faster race lap than his pole qualifying lap with an 81.14 miles per hour clocking.
“We have a great group of people at the Classic BMW team,” said Ruud. “I was able to test last week and learn quite a bit about the new BMW M2CS Racing Cup for the TCX class. We made changes with the car right up to qualifying on Saturday. But, overall, the new M2 was just fantastic. We learned how to manage tire wear and make the car fast right to the end of the races.
Ruud also clocked the fastest race laps in both TCX class main events this weekend.
“We had a different setup from Tommy’s car, but he did a super job for his first time in the new M2. He learned a lot about the car throughout the weekend. It was very fun to finish 1-2 in both races for Fast Track Racing and Classic BMW. While this was the first race of the new TCX class, I can see a real future for these type of cars in TC America. They are so much fun to drive.”
McCarthy took home two second place finishes in the TCX doubleheader this weekend to continue his recent road racing success which also included Spec Miata wins at Buttonwillow and Sonoma.
“It was a great weekend for the new BMW M2CS Racing Cup cars and our young drivers, Jacob and Tommy,” said Toby Grahovec, Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW team manager. “They showed these new TCX cars are fast. And we hope the TCX class will continue to grow throughout the season. They have a lot of potential and our guys said the cars were fun to drive. It was a great season opener for the Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW team.”
Grahovec returned to on-track action himself with his popular #26 Classic BMW BMW M240iR sedan in the TC category. The 2016 TC Series class champion drove from fifth to second in Saturday’s TC 40-minute sprint and finished just six-tenth of a second from the winning car. In Sunday’s feature, Toby was hit at the start and went to the rear of the field. The Celina, Tex., driver came from back to drive up to seventh place.
“The qualifying was a little in the wet and we didn’t get the best starting position,” said Grahovec, who had three TC wins in 2020. “We fought our way up the field and finished a close second. In Sunday’s race, I got hit going into turn one and slid wide. We had to come back through the field and get some points as it is early in the season. Overall, the team recorded two wins and four seconds. It was a good weekend.”
The TC America race highlights at Sonoma Raceway will be televised on the CBS Sports Network on March 18 at 9 p.m. EDT.