Riverside, CA – Its numerous accolades include hosting the second Formula One race in the U.S., won by Stirling Moss in 1960, and on Saturday Riverside International Speedway will come back to life in a virtual sense for Round 5 of the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship beginning at 3 p.m. ET. The race will use the Classic Riverside road course configuration.
Located 50 miles east of Los Angeles, the track held major races from 1957 through 1988, falling victim to development and closing on July 2, 1989, to become a shopping center. The circuit’s signature event throughout its existence was the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, a race that included USRRC, Can-Am and Camel GT sports cars.
“Many of the drivers on the Esports roster were not even born when Trans Am hosted its last race at Riverside,” said Trans Am Racing Company President John Clagett. “The Assetto Corsa and Torque Esports team designed a virtual course for our drivers to experience a bit of Trans Am’s past. Watching practice has brought back a lot of great memories for me and we hope that it will for our long-time fans as well.”
Trans Am played a major role at Riverside, competing 10 times at the circuit. It hosted the finale of the 1966 inaugural season, won by Jerry Titus in a Ford Mustang fielded by Carroll Shelby. The following year, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion David Pearson won, driving a Mercury Cougar fielded by NASCAR car owner Bud Moore.
Riverside hosted the season finale from 1969 through 1971, three of Trans Am’s “Golden Years.” Mark Donohue won the 1969 race in Roger Penske Chevrolet Camaro, taking his sixth consecutive start. Ford turned the tables in 1970, with Parnelli Jones winning his fifth race of the campaign in Moore’s championship-winning Ford Mustang. Penske returned to the top step in 1971, with George Follmer and Vic Elford making it a one-two finish for Penske’s AMC Javelins.
Riverside returned to the Trans Am calendar in 1980, with Greg Pickett winning in a Corvette. David Hobbs took his fourth and final triumph in his 1983 championship season in a DeAtley Budweiser Camaro. DeAtley switched Chevrolet brands for 1984, with Darin Brassfield winning his second race of the year in a Budweiser Corvette.
Trans Am opened its 1986 campaign at Riverside. Scott Pruett drove from the back to the front to win in a Jack Roush Motorcraft Mercury Capri in the final Trans Am race held at the classic circuit.
Riverside was the only track to hold three NASCAR Cup Series races in one year (1981); and held races for Can-Am (1966-73), IMSA Camel GT (1975-87), NASCAR (1963-88), USAC Indy cars (1967-69) and CART Champ Car (1981-83). Its final race was a NASCAR Cup Series event won by Rusty Wallace in June 1988.