TeamSLR Duo Takes Over the Reins with Championship Hopes in 2023 Beginning with Saturday’s Trans Am Season-Opening Sebring SpeedTour
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2023) – The dawning of a new racing season brings an interesting new dynamic in the driver’s seat for TeamSLR and its two-car pursuit of the season-long championship in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli’s newly renamed Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers TA2 Series.
In the No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro for TeamSLR will be Thad Moffitt, the 22-year-old grandson of racing legend Richard Petty who embarks on his rookie TA2 campaign after six seasons competing in stock cars on primarily oval tracks in the ARCA Menards Series. In the No. 17 Heritage Automotive/Unifirst SLR-M1 Racecars Chevrolet Camaro will be 27-year-old Dillon Machavern, the seasoned road racer who’s made his mark in IMSA and Trans Am since joining the professional ranks in 2012.
They’ll kick off their respective runs for the 2023 TA2 championship at this weekend’s Sebring SpeedTour on the iconic Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit. Saturday’s 27-lap, 75-minute race, set for a 12:45 p.m. EST start, features 47 entries and is the first of 12 events on the schedule. As with all races this season, it will be streamed live on the Trans Am and SpeedTour channels on YouTube. And Trans Am has a new TV partner this year, MAVTV, which will broadcast TA2 events in a one-hour package set for 8 p.m. ET on the Thursday following each race.
“It’s a great dynamic and, in some regards, one that can bring us a lot of success this season – that’s our hope,” said TeamSLR co-owner Scott Lagasse Jr., whose lone fulltime driver in 2021 and 2022, Connor Mosack, graduated to the ARCA and NASCAR Xfinity Series ranks this season. “Any time you can pair somebody of the caliber of a Dillon Machavern with a Thad Moffitt, who’s obviously talented but hasn’t done much of the road-race stuff, that’s going to make them both better and is going to lead to really good things. I like the dynamic a lot.”
In 49 outings the past six seasons in ARCA’s National, East and West series, Moffitt posted 10 top-five finishes and 29 top-10s. He also ran a limited NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule last year. After pair of successful preseason test sessions with TeamSLR in his Safety-Kleen Camaro at Sebring and NOLA Motorsports Park outside New Orleans, where Round 2 of the season will be contested March 11, Moffitt is eager to begin perfecting his road-course race craft in earnest this weekend.
“This will be my first-ever TA2 race, and the road-course stuff is pretty brand new to me,” said the native of Trinity, North Carolina, whose grandfather will serve as grand marshal during this weekend’s festivities at Sebring. “I ran a few road-course races in ARCA at Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and Daytona, so it’s not totally new. But Sebring this weekend, with almost 50 cars in the field, is going to be a whole, new animal. This place with these cars is going to be a lot of fun. I really enjoyed learning the track and the TA2 car during our test days. It’s been great for me to work with such a refreshing group. They’re just racers and they want to win as badly as I do. They’re very knowledgeable, and just being part of their team has been incredible already. For me to have such a great group behind me, getting me up to speed, I think that will accelerate the learning curve a little bit. Of course, it’s not something you can just jump into and figure out right away, but I think we’re off to a good start.”
Machavern, who hails from Charlotte, Vermont, is set for his first fulltime TA2 season since finishing runner-up in the championship in 2019. His most recent TA2 start at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last September was his third in the No. 17 TeamSLR Camaro and the 50th of his career. The four-time TA2 race-winner has enjoyed the lion’s share of his road-racing success in IMSA’s SportsCar Challenge and LMP3 divisions, netting a pair of championships and 10 race wins. He relishes the opportunity to return to TA2’s single-driver, sprint-race format for a full-season run, as well as the opportunity to work with Moffitt.
“My whole goal is to try to have fun this year while trying to win a championship this season,” Machavern said. “Racing with the Lagasses is an ideal place to do that. They’re all so passionate about finding the speed but also enjoying it. It’s exciting knowing that everybody is on the same page like that, working toward common goals. As for Thad, I think he’s going to pick it up pretty fast. He’s obviously a talented driver, so he just needs to work on the tracks more than anything else. Feel is feel. I know there’s a little bit of a different discipline to it, but I think he’ll pick it up pretty fast.”
Machavern also is confident his abundance of experience turning race laps at Sebring will pay off during Saturday’s season opener. He scored the TA2 victory there from the pole in 2017, and in 2018 added a podium finish in the IMSA SportsCar Challenge Series.
“I think experience there is a big advantage because I think it’s a hard track to learn, especially with all the nuances and the bumps and stuff like that,” he said. “I’ve been fast there. It’s one of my favorite tracks. I like the old-school, fast tracks that aren’t the overly technical, modern tracks. I love it because it’s so different from anything else on the schedule. It’s so rough, you really have to have your car dialed in, on top of the fact that there are multiple surface changes, so it’s difficult to get your car right.”
Moffitt, meanwhile, is sticking to a big-picture approach of his own as he makes his Trans Am debut this weekend alongside Machavern and under the guidance of Scott Lagasse Jr., and his dad and team patriarch Scott Lagasse.
“First of all, I feel like a championship run is realistic,” he said. “The biggest thing about racing against 40 or 50 cars out there is not being part of an issue. If we can finish all the races and finish them where we’re running, I think we’ll have a good shot at it. I know there’s a lot of experience in the field. You’ve got your Mike Skeen, your Thomas Merrill and your Rafa Matos, guys who are proven road racers who have made a living at this, and the only thing I’ve ever known since I was 8 is circle track stuff. It’s not going to be easy by any means, and there’s definitely a lot of talent in the Trans Am field, but running with the Lagasses gives me a great opportunity to run solid, points-wise, and I think just finishing these races and not being part of the attrition is going to be a big deal. Goals for me this year: I want to win at least one race and I want to be in the championship talk, top-five in points at the end of the year, at least.”
Riding along with TeamSLR again this season is ScreenYourMachine.org, an initiative created in 2016 by Scott Lagasse Jr., a colon cancer survivor, in partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) to educate individuals about the importance of getting age-appropriate screenings for all types of cancer.
“I was still in my early 30s when I was diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong so I didn’t waste any time and I went and saw my doctor,” said Lagasse, whose quick decision paralleled his quickness in a racecar. “They caught it early and that was my saving grace. The treatment worked, but young-onset colorectal cancer is rising. I wasn’t some outlier. About 12 percent of incidents occur in people under the age of 50.”
TeamSLR (Scott Lagasse Racing) competes fulltime in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli in a multifaceted effort that includes dedicated entries in the TA2 division, customer programs, driver coaching and car construction. Its history dates back to 1985 and covers a wide spectrum of motorsports, including NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, ARCA and ASA. TeamSLR is a family-owned organization run by Scott Lagasse Sr., and Scott Lagasse Jr. The father-and-son duo have combined to win more than 120 races and seven championships across a variety of series and styles of racecars, from paved ovals to road courses to dirt tracks. For more information, please visit us online at www.TeamSLR.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on LinkedIn.
About the AGA Institute:
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. For more information, please visit www.gastro.org.