In St. Augustine, Scott Lagasse (and Scott Jr.) are building racers through Trans Am Series

In the nation’s oldest city, two old-school racers are teaching the next generation of racecar drivers.

From their headquarters on San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine, Scott Lagasse and Scott Lagasse Jr. are plying the knowledge and expertise gained from their collection of driving championships, and more than 120 race victories, to teenagers and 20-somethings aspiring to compete in the elite NASCAR Cup Series.

The father-and-son duo formed TeamSLR back in 1985 and first operated out of a small, one-car garage in St. Augustine. In 2016, they partnered with another father-and-son combo, Paul and Justin Felker, to build their current home — Art’nMotion, a 19,000-square foot facility that houses TeamSLR’s burgeoning sports-car operation in the Trans Am Series, as well as a vintage and exotic car showroom that can be reserved for special events.

Road racing, which is the hallmark of the Trans Am Series, has become increasingly prominent in NASCAR. In the last four years, the Cup Series has expanded from just two road-course events on its 36-race schedule to six and, in 2023, the series adds a new street race in downtown Chicago over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. In the Cup Series’ feeder division, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a record eight road-course races are featured.

Scott Lagasse Jr. (left) and his father are preparing racecars and racers at their St. Augustine race shop.
Scott Lagasse Jr. (left) and his father are preparing racecars and racers at their St. Augustine race shop.

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The influx of road racing in NASCAR has forced up-and-coming drivers to diversify their skill sets, expanding their repertoire beyond the oval tracks that comprise the majority of the NASCAR schedule.

Enter the Lagasses.

Scott Lagasse Sr., 65, is a multi-time national champion who drove for such manufacturers as Chevrolet, Pontiac and Lotus. He won races domestically and internationally, from the SCCA’s World Challenge and Corvette Challenge to IMSA and ARCA and then all the way to New Zealand’s TraNZam Challenge. He parlayed his road-racing success to a stock-car career that spanned the top-three series of NASCAR — Truck, Xfinity and Cup.

His 41-year-old son, Scott Lagasse Jr., is equally accomplished. Race wins on dirt and asphalt tracks throughout Florida and the Southeast led to more prominent series, namely ASA and ARCA, where he won enough to earn a development deal with Chip Ganassi Racing that placed the younger Lagasse in the Xfinity Series — the stepping-stone division to the NASCAR Cup Series.

The Lagasse team competes in the Trans Am Series.
The Lagasse team competes in the Trans Am Series.

He then set his sights on road racing, where he quickly became a top competitor in the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series.

But as fun as driving was, Scott Jr. found that working on the cars and coaching drivers younger than him — who were treading a path he had already traveled — was more rewarding. His racing experience, combined with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from nearby Flagler College, gave the second-generation Lagasse a unique and valued perspective, that of real-world racing experience augmented by off-track acumen.

With his dad, the younger Lagasse transitioned TeamSLR from just a race team to a driver academy, where future racing talent is being developed not in the motorsports hotspots of Indianapolis and Charlotte, but in St. Augustine.

“St. Augustine is home, but it’s also a pretty strategic place to be,” said the elder Lagasse. “We’re an hour up the road from Daytona and less than four hours down to Sebring, where we do a lot of testing and kick off the Trans Am season. It’s a great place to live, so we’re able to recruit talented individuals to build and maintain our racecars, giving our drivers the best chance to succeed on the track.”

Two recent TeamSLR graduates are Sam Mayer and Connor Mosack. Mayer is in the midst of his second season in the Xfinity Series with the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports. Mosack has a 20-race Xfinity Series schedule with Sam Hunt Racing and three additional Xfinity Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The Lagasse's race shop is located on San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine.
The Lagasse's race shop is located on San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine.

An 18-year-old Mayer won his first Trans Am race in July 2021 with TeamSLR at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin. The Wisconsin native is now a staple of JR Motorsports and an early contender for the 2023 Xfinity Series championship.

“Road-course experience is very important because NASCAR is doing a lot of road racing now,” Mayer said. “Anytime you can run a road-course race in any car, it’s valuable. Having all those Trans Am starts with TeamSLR was a big help as I started running fulltime in the Xfinity Series.”

Mosack’s rise with TeamSLR is even more impressive. The 24-year-old from Charlotte didn’t begin racing until he was 18. He started in Legends cars and after winning five championships, transitioned to Late Model stock cars in 2019.

Mosack augmented his Late Model schedule with four Trans Am races in 2020 for TeamSLR. Two full seasons of Trans Am racing followed, where under the guidance of the Lagasses, Mosack never finished outside of the top four in the championship standings, scoring two wins and earning five poles.

“Scotty and Scott Senior have won a lot of races together and they have a ton of experience,” Mosack said. “They build and tune the M1 Racecars we use, so they know how to maximize the car’s performance. Their cars are awesome to drive and each of those guys have taught me a lot.

“Nothing beats seat time, and running the full Trans Am schedule gave me an incredible amount of seat time. Every practice, every qualifying session, every race, I was learning. I just feel like the style of the Trans Am car is very applicable to what an Xfinity or Cup car is like. That’s where I want to be and that’s why I put in the time with TeamSLR.”

With Mosack and Mayer on to the next step of their respective racing careers, the Lagasses are now mentoring Thad Moffitt. The grandson of racing legend Richard Petty is driving for TeamSLR in his first season of Trans Am racing.

“We’ve been very impressed with Thad’s work ethic and his desire to compete,” said Scott Lagasse Jr. “Trans Am is a great place to learn race craft, and with more and more NASCAR races on road and street courses, it’s an excellent way for drivers to increase their versatility. You can hustle a Trans Am car for an entire race, just like qualifying laps.

“Trans Am is growing and it gets more competitive each year. There are a lot of great racers and it takes a lot to win each race. We’re proud of the drivers who have come through our program and we enjoy working with Thad and the next generation of racing talent.”

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Scott Lagasse (and son) building future NASCAR racers in St. Augustine