Video: Vintage Trans-Am Racing Footage

Back in the day, those who had a soft spot for American muscle yet also yearned for European road racing had their prayers answered with Trans-Am racing. This series was created by the Sports Car Club of America in 1966. Initially there were two classes of racing – over and under 2.0 liters, with displacement limited to 5.0 liters. The first Trans-Am race was at Sebring International Raceway.


The new-for-1968 Brainerd International Raceway in northern Minnesota was the perfect venue for this fledgling class of racing. Gary Grant, whose father drove an AMX in Ontario for the 1969 season, stumbled upon some old racing footage on the Donnybrooke track in 1969 courtesy of Yahoo’s Canadian Motor Sports History Group.

The Trans-Am series spawned some very memorable street cars. The first official car from the Big Three was the 1967 Camaro with the Z/28 performance package, which was properly branded as a Z/28 starting in 1968. Ford followed suit in 1969 with the Boss 302 Mustang and the Mercury Cougar Eliminator equipped with same motor.

Pontiac upped the ante the very same year with Firebird Trans Am, although the street version was never offered with a proper Trans-Am motor. AMC officially joined the fray in 1970 with the Mark Donahue Javelin and the Trans Am Javelin, the latter with trademark red/white/blue paint scheme. Over at Chrysler, the Plymouth Barracuda AAR’Cuda and Dodge Challenger T/A completed the field.

Looking at this video, it reminds me of the films of music festivals of the time – local color, attractive women (although this time with clothing), and a general atmosphere of enjoyment. The cheesy period muzak puts things in perspective, however – despite “Free Love” and such that were hyped just a few years before, the Status Quo still ruled the roost. But who knew with cars like these?

About the author

Diego Rosenberg

Diego is an automotive historian with experience working in Detroit as well as the classic car hobby. He is a published automotive writer in print and online and has a network of like-minded aficionados to depend on for information that's not in the public domain.
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