Australian Champion Nathan Herne made a solid showing in his first race with the Trans Am series at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, but there is more to the story. Stevens-Miller Racing prepared the car he raced by renovating a 2017 Howe chassis with some history. Howe Racing Enterprises built chassis number H3832 in December of that year with a distinctive Mustang GT Magnetic Metalic paint scheme. Under the hood was the last TA2 spec Ford engine built by Ilmore Engineering. Kenny Bumbera from Sealy, Texas, sent a deposit within days of seeing the online photos of the car in Howe's showroom. Coincidentally, the transport picking up the car already carried a production Mustang GT with the matching paint scheme. Howe took advantage of the opportunity by posing the cars side-by-side in the snow-covered Howe Racing parking lot. The 2018 images illustrate the similarities and differences between a TA2 car from its production cousins.
Bumbera tested his new car locally in Texas but, after a year, decided to sell it. So the Mustang found a new home in 2019 in Lititz, Pennsylvania, with Vic and Tyler Kicera. Tyler was ready to move into TA2 after winning two SCCA national Spec Miata points championships and the 2016 NASA National Championship. So in 2019, Tyler jumped up to the Trans Am series where, in 2020, he and his Mustang won a national event at Virginia International Raceway in only their fourth start.
Kicera's success as an independent caught the eye of Silver Hare Racing owner Maurice Hull of High Point, North Carolina. Tyler and his Silver Hare Mustang ran a COVID-abbreviated season in 2020. Between events, Kicera amassed five dramatic E-Sports wins in a virtual Corvette with a paint scheme matching the Mustang's original colors. Midway through the 2021 season, Silver Hare pulled the Ilmore Ford engine in favor of a TA2 spec "Choice Engine."
In 2022 Kicera and his seasoned warhorse moved to yet another race shop at Stevens-Miller Racing in Indiana. SMR put Kicera into their lead car, making his old Mustang a rental. On the rough streets circuit at Nashville, the knees of the tired pony finally buckled from fatigue, resulting in a trip back to the Howe factory for a new front frame, updates, and other repairs. SMR owner Joe Stevens received an email from TA2 Racing Australia's Peter Robinson inquiring about an arrive-and-drive car for the Australian Champion. The SMR crew worked diligently to reassemble the freshened chassis with new components and paint schemes to match the Howe company colors. Finally, the old horse had a new and exceptional rider, and they took to each other like old friends and raced inside the top three most of the race, settling for a solid fourth-place finish, edging out teammate Tyler Kicera in his old ride by .001 seconds. Herne commented in a journal entry, "At the end of the day, I've learned so much from being over here and met so many cool people. I've definitely gotten the taste for it over here and would be back tomorrow if I got the opportunity."
SMR President Joe Stevens was excited about Herne's results and another chance to prove his team is always a podium threat. "Fielding these wonderful drivers at the F1 circuit is a true blessing." This story exemplifies one colorful past of a well-built and well-driven racecar.