BOW, New Hampshire — Throughout Tom Sheehan’s career in the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 season, he has followed the words of the legendary Mario Andretti.
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to unrelenting pursuit of your goal, a commitment to excellence, that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
Last year, Tom placed 20th in the championship standings, opting to not compete in the West Coast races at Laguna Seca and Sonoma Raceway. Although he finished P9 in Lime Rock Park and three finishes of P15 or better, he placed P20 in the championship standings.
In the early stanzas of this 2023 season, Tom made the most of some challenging afternoons at Sebring, New Orleans and Road Atlanta. Placing P22 and P19 in the opening three races, Tom overcame a tough race day at Lime Rock with a strong showing in the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader weekend. Finishing P19 and P7, Tom started to turn the tide with his TA2 efforts.
“What a weekend,” Tom said. “It is a testament to persevering. While I struggled out of the trailer, my guys kept working. The Cope camp was in full gear, making lots of good changes along with lots of teamwork. It feels great to give the team a top 10.”
Following the Mid-Ohio race weekend, Tom ranked P20 but within striking distance of P15 in the championship standings. After Tom reeled off two strong efforts at Road America and Nashville, respectively finishing P13 and P12, Tom moved up to P17 in the championship standings.
Equally as important, Tom joined the Mike Cope Racing efforts during the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix weekend in Nashville. The resilient, methodical Granite State native saw his pace and efforts elevate to a competitive, solid level for strong race weekends.
As Tom said after the Nashville race weekend, “It was our first weekend running exclusively with Mike Cope. Great experience for me, the Mike Cope Racing team made great changes to the setup all weekend. In qualifying, we didn’t have it where we wanted it, but I wasn’t discouraged at all. We knew that the car was working really well. We just had to get it tuned up to what the track was going to give us.”
While Watkins Glen and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway briefly stalled Tom’s momentum, he roared back to stellar P12 at VIRginia International Raceway, the penultimate race of the season.
Heading into the season finale at Circuit of the Americas, Tom was confident about his chances to tally a strong finish at the FIA Grade 1 road course in Austin, Texas. Starting P29, Tom rocketed his way up to P11 by Lap 23.
Within striking distance of P10, mechanical issues derailed an otherwise promising performance by Tom on Lap 25 near Turn 14. Provisionally placing P31, Tom’s official result was P22.
Although the 2023 campaign concluded with a trying circumstance, Tom kept his head up following a race and season with prominent silver linings.
“It’s the machine, right? It’s a big part of the deal,” Tom said. “The guys will figure out what happened. I don’t know if the motor let go or tightened up or it just ended up on that last restart. It was running good. And then, I don’t know, I got the car a little jacked up, but I kept my foot in it.
“I think it was making power all the way to the end. It just wouldn’t restart. I think it just got hot. I don’t think the motor gave up. But the guys will figure out what’s going on.”
COTA was a summation of Tom’s 2023 season, a great improvement over last year. A season best result of P7 in the second Detroit doubleheader race was complimented by three finishes of P13 or better.
Sure, the result may have not been indicative of the gains made by Tom and his Mike Cope Racing team. Still, Tom pointed out how he and his crew overcame some challenges to challenge for P10 in the season finale.
“It was a good weekend for the race. We raced well. We just kind of plateaued at that pace all weekend,” Tom remarked. “We couldn’t really get out of that box of running those low fifteens. And, you know, we pulled off I think one lap that was a little bit better on the weekend.
“But in the race, I could just keep doing that lap. And that kind of turned into the pace in the top 10. And guys were savage out there. They weren’t giving anybody anything. And, there was some attrition.”
Likewise, Tom tipped his cap to his crew much like HVAC professionals appreciating LTK’s insulation jackets to get the job done. Much like a homeowner or business owner who protects their pipes and edifices with Made in America, high quality products, Tom appreciated his team’s steadfast efforts.
“I passed a lot of cars,” Tom said. “It was a lot of fun and it was a good drive but we just didn’t get the result. I’ve got a great crew. My guys worked really hard all year. We’ll get ready for next year and just keep working hard and. Look for the day when the chips all fall into the right bag and we can pull out a great result.”
Time and time again, Tom will be the first to point out how racing and mechanical insulation share time certainty and reward organization. The pride of New Hampshire knows that those two intangibles hold true as a resilient, perseverant TA2 competitor.
“When you’re working on being a better driver and the guys are working on giving you a better car, the team’s working on just being better, the chemistry and the results don’t always shake out to those efforts,” Tom observed. “But eventually, there’s a reward because that consistency is what really counts in racing. If you can be there knocking on the door, you’re going to get in.”
Heading into the offseason, Tom has a lot to be appreciative about with the optimistic road ahead of him in 2024. In the words of actress Terry Farrell, “The journey never ends. There’s always something to look forward to.”
In Tom’s case, with next year’s season opener at Sebring International Raceway less than three months away, it is about elevating his craft. By being proactive and taking charge like LTK’s high-quality jackets and covers, Tom knows the good times may just be ahead of him as he prepares for his 14th season in TA2 in 2024.
“When you plateau, it’s hard to break over the plateau. But for anybody that ever sees themselves as plateau, they just got to keep digging,” Tom shared. “There’s that awkward feeling of frustration, confusion or apprehension. The next thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to level up. That’s kind of what follows that. So don’t get frustrated at all the other stuff you have to do before you level up.
“You just got to embrace that too. That’s part of it, you know? We’re going to take this season and next year try to fire off better. And the results will come. We keep doing what we did today and we’re going to find ourselves in a pretty good spot.”
Trans Am races are available for live streaming on Trans Am and SpeedTour’s YouTube channels, with full playbacks immediately available after the race. Additionally, the races can be seen in edited, 60-minute features broadcasted on MAVTV’s Thursday night primetime slot at 8 p.m. ET.
Follow Tom’s social media channels via his Facebook page, Damon Racing, Instagram account (@TomSheehanTA97), and X account (@TomTA2_97). For more information on LTK Insulation Technologies and the line of high-quality products, please visit https://ltkinsulationtechnologies.com.
About LTK Insulation Technologies
Putting LTK insulation jackets and covers to work on your project saves real money and time for your firm.
No matter the application, take charge of protecting your hydronic and process controls and valves with a quality insulation cover. With LTK Insulation Technologies, you can be proactive and save money and headaches with high quality material. Insulating in-line controls in your process facility or central hydronic HVAC system from heat loss and condensation. Cover the range of your challenging conditions with an LTK Pro-Fit or LTK Fast Fit Insulation Jacket.
With LTK Insulation Technologies, your imagination is the only limit. Go LTK today!