The TC America powered by Skip Barber championships are in full-swing and the competition is hotter than ever. With three classes of competition, the series has no shortage of action whenever the green flag drops. At the mid-season break, we take a look back at all the movers and shakers that are making things happen in their respective classes, and take a closer look at the people that might re-shape the second half of the season.
Ruud’s Perfect TCX Season
Classic BMW driver Jacob Ruud has taken over the TC America TCX class. Every available accolade that can be had in the class this season, from Qualifying P1 to being the first to take the checkered flag, has been emblazoned with his name on it. The 21-year old Wisconsinite has even added a perfect six-for-six run for the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap award this season. This stellar run has placed him at the top of the points championship with twice as many points as the number-two contender, making it an extremely difficult proposition for anyone to chase him down for the title this year. However, as the TCX field grows larger event by event, the chance of someone unseating the top spot-holder grows with it.
GT4 Team Champion principal Samantha Tan, a driver herself, decided to switch series this year and have her hand at the TC America grid as part of the growing TCX class. In her first outing at Circuit of the Americas, Tan managed second-row Qualifying position and a two-podium weekend finish, igniting a drive to seriously campaign for the rest of the season. If her podium finish just before the mid-season break is a purveyor of things to come, there may just be a chase-down battle brewing in the TCX class.
Chris Walsh made a switch into TCX competition too, but his switch was more of an expansion from a different sport. The gold medal-winning Team USA Olympic bobsledder’s addiction to speed has translated into him getting behind the wheel of a new sled where his mid-season entry has already seen him in the points and nowhere to go but up.
Steve Streimer has put in work in TC America classes since 2018 and his move to TCX competition seems to suit him well. His last three outings have seen him on the podium in progressively increasing positions; time will tell if the mid-season break allows him to formulate how to take home the top-spot hardware.
The TC Toss-up
Eric Powell and Kevin Boehm have been virtually trading blows since the start of the TC season. The two have managed to exchange class wins and podium-finishes enough times to be within 1.5-points of each other. Their back-and-forth battle is made all the more relevant by the shared platform of choice - the Honda Civic Type R TC. While Boehm has the experience of a championship title in a similarly-prepared Honda Civic Type R TCA, Powell has years of competition experience coupled with formal training from series presenting sponsor Skip Barber Racing School. It’s anyone’s guess who’s going to notch enough victories to come out on top, especially with third-place-and-closing BMW driver Austen Smith closing out before the mid-season break with a double race win weekend to break up the Honda party.
Higher Learning: Skip Barber Racing School
Skip Barber Racing School has much to be proud of. In addition to the team fielding Powell as a top TC contender, other graduates from the school that have transferred into competition are on their way to the tops of their respective class fields. In TC, Lindsay Brewer, who started in karts and has been racing cars for years, has demonstrated her ability to adjust to touring cars with solid racecraft, gaining positions and showing steady improvement in the process. In TCA, Carter Fartuch is proving that he’s a class championship contender, with both Mike Stillwagon and Colin Harrison also showing their ability to translate class learning to track performance.
The Road to NASCAR
Through series regulars TechSport Racing, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has established a driver development team that’s attempting to expand Toyota’s reach in road racing as well as to create a series-to-series ladder system to better accommodate the increasing number of road courses in elite racing series such as NASCAR. TechSport youngster Jesse “The Hammer” Love, most recently the 2020 ARCA West Champion and Sammy Smith, seasoned NASCAR development series driver still in his mid-teens, both pilot the Toyota 86 in the TCA class under the TechSport banner. So far, Love swept the opening weekend at Sonoma with a Pole and double race-win showing, sprinting up those first few steps of the ladder series toward elite race car driver status.
The TCA class is often considered the point-of-entry for SRO sports car racing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its fair share of hard competition. Forbush Performance’s Caleb Bacon also has a hat-trick weekend under his belt similar to Love’s performance albeit from this year’s COTA event, and has placed in the points enough to be the current points leader. Just behind the two of them in driver points standings is Skip Barber Racing School TCA standout Carter Fartuch, who stands just two points behind Love. A podium appearance or race win is all that’s needed for him to break through to the top.
The Battle of the Brands
Since Touring Cars are most like the versions we get to drive on the street, the Manufacturers in these series are eager to notch race wins so they can translate race wins on Saturday and Sunday to car sales on Monday. In TC, the sport versions of performance marques from Honda, Hyundai and BMW occupy a large part of the grid while TCA competitors choose from slightly less-equipped cars from Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and MINI.
The Next Tour Stop
TC America fires up again when the series returns to Wisconsin’s Road America on August 27th to 29th. From there, it’s due East as the series returns to Watkins Glen International for the first time in two years on September 17th to 19th.
New to the series this year, Touring Car America heads to Florida’s Sebring International Raceway for a double-header weekend with GT World Challenge America, GT4 America, and invitational GT America competitors. Finally, for the second time in as many years, the championships wrap up and crown the victors at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in conjunction with the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli feature of the Indianapolis 8 Hour.
While you’re here, plan out how you can join us on a race weekend near you, get tickets for local venues, catch up on all the livestream race archives, and get the latest in TC America news and information.