1990 Chevrolet Beretta Trans-Am
Winner 1990 Trans-Am Championship
Six first place finishes
Driver: Tommy Kendall
Restored by Canepa Motorsports
4.5 liter 500+ horsepower V6 engine
In 1990, the Trans-Am Series celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Chevrolet would go on to win eight of the 15 races, and rack up four 2nd place positions en route to its first title in seven years. Tommy Kendall collected six of those victories, and the driver’s title in the #902 Beretta. Since its retirement from racing in 1990 this championship car has remained in the hands of the original owner, David Draper, the team principal and former CEO/Owner of Cars & Concepts.
Car #902 is the second car of the three built by Cars & Concepts for the 1990 season, and has significant improvements over the #901 car. It was raced most of the season by Tommy Kendall, and had the most wins of the three cars built. Chris Kneifel spent most of his time in #903, while #901 was used for development, PR, and as a back up car.
#902 is unique in that is still retains the original engine, exclusively developed by Katech, and the Chevrolet Raceshop for the Beretta program. The 4.5 liter V6/90 featured splayed valve aluminum cylinder heads, Lotus slide valve fuel injection throttle system, lightweight forged Cosworth pistons, Ryan Falconer pedestal style rocker arms, Isky and Jesel valve train components, and Chevrolet’s GEN III engine software.
In 1991 the SCCA changed the rules to make the dominant V6 Berettas illegal for the Trans-Am series, so the remaining V6 powerplants were used in Chevrolet’s Off Road Truck program. #902’s one-year use of this amazing engine makes it not only rare, but a piece of American road racing history. The Beretta was clearly ahead of its time achieving Chevrolet’s goal of being the first to win the Trans-Am Championship with a V6. The lighter package offered improved vehicle packaging and aerodynamics, helping the Berettas to dominate the 1990 season. It would not be until the mid-90s when the carbureted V8 Trans-Am cars would catch up to the V6 Beretta’s speed and reliability.
Another feather in the Berettas cap was overcoming a series of mid-season rule revisions that were put in place to slow the Chevrolet steamroller. The rules took the 275 cubic inch Beretta’s original minimum weight from 2375 pounds to 2500 pounds, the same as the V8-powered cars. Truly showing its speed, at the first race with the extra weight the Beretta would end up on top of the podium once again.
In April of 2014 Bruce Canepa purchased #902 directly from David Draper with the intent of racing it at the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. This would be the first time the car would hit the track since its last race on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL on November 4th, 1990.
Once arriving at Canepa Motorsports the Beretta was completely disassembled to begin the restoration process. The chassis and all the tinwork were stripped, restored and powder coated. All the nickel work was replated, and all necessary parts were crack checked. The calipers were rebuilt, and each corner received new seals and bearings. The V6 engine was inspected, given new valve springs, and dynoed. The transmission and differential were completely rebuilt, and the Beretta received a new fuel bladder and fuel pumps.
This is a rare opportunity to own a championship winning, factory racecar with unassailable provenance that has been restored, revitalized, and is once again ready for the track.
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