Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Speed Channel's World Challenge.
About the Speed World Challenge
Contact: Erin Cechal, SCCA Public Relations Specialist, 800-770-2055 or E-Mail. or SCCA Pro Racing/Speed World Challenge Office. PO Box 19400 (Mail Only), Building 300, B Street (Shipping Address), Forbes Field, Topeka, KS 66619 or 785-357-7223 or fax 785-233-7223 or www.world-challenge.com or E-Mail
Related Issue: Women Racers Directory, Women in Racing, Women Racers, More Women in Racing, Race Schedules, Notable Women, Champ Car
About the Speed World
On the first day of summer, 1980, a 24-hour showroom stock race was staged at Nelson Ledges Road Course near Youngstown, Ohio. The success of the Nelson Ledges "Longest Day" and the amazing response to a second such event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August, 1984, prompted the SCCA to combine several existing endurance races into a manufacturers' series for 1984.
This new series was expanded into a six-race professional showroom stock endurance racing series for 1985. The 1985 series was billed as the Playboy United States Endurance Cup, with Playboy Magazine its title sponsor. There were four classes in 1985 (GT, A, B and C) with a per-race purse of $20,000 and year-end bonus of $60,000.
A number of changes were made in 1986, as Escort replaced Playboy as the sponsor and the class structure was altered. A new class was introduced-Super Sports (SS) and the B and C classes were combined. The per-race purses jumped to $28,000 and the year-end points fund was increased to $80,000-split among the four classes. Once again, six races were held, including two 24-hour events.
The series continued to grow in 1987, as the number of races jumped to eight and the per-race purse was upped to $36,000. The class structure remained intact and Escort was retained as the series' title sponsor.
In 1988 and 1989, the SS class was eliminated, thus making the GT cars the premier class with the A and B classes remaining unchanged.
A dramatic off-season followed the 1989 Escort Endurance Championship, in which the series was completely restructured and renamed. For 1990, the Escort World Challenge Championship was born.
The new series featured cars homologated by manufacturers. The rules were along the same lines as the European Group A specifications, rather than the showroom stock configuration of the series from 1985 through 1989.
The 1990 Escort World Challenge featured two classes of competition following the restructuring. The top class, World Challenge, showcased high-performance sports cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Lotus Esprit Turbo.
The second class, Super Production, was for lower-horsepower sports cars including the Honda CRX, Eagle Talon and new Mazda Miata.
There was concern of whether or not anyone could compete with the Corvettes, which moved over from the Corvette Challenge to World Challenge. Doc Bundy and Scott Lagasse put those ideas to rest, winning the inaugural World Challenge race for Lotus-a three hour event at Sears Point. Bundy would win twice more on the season, but a poor finish at Dallas allowed R.K. Smith to win the Championship in a Powell Motorsport Corvette on the strength of three solo wins.
In Super Production, Bobby Archer's HKS Performance Eagle Talon waged a season-long battle with the American Honda Honda CRX Si of Peter Cunningham. In the end, Archer drove to victory in the season-ending St. Petersburg round to take the Drivers' Championship and clinch the Manufacturers' title for Eagle.
In 1991, a third class, Super Sport, was included for Camaros and club configuration Mustangs. Shawn Hendricks had a banner year in his Bakeracing Corvette, taking the World Challenge title with top-five finishes in all eight races and two wins. Actor Bobby Carradine was second in a Lotusport Lotus Esprit, followed by Andy Pilgrim's Goodyear Corvette. Lou Gigliotti took his first Drivers' Championship in Super Sports, winning three of the six races in his Young Chevrolet Camaro. Mitch Wright earned the Archer Brothers and Eagle their second-straight respective titles in Super Production, winning two races en route to topping Norris Rancourt's Carmichael Honda CRX Si by six points.
In 1992, the series underwent another major facelift. One more class was created, and the classes were renamed A, B, C and D, with some cars re-classified to meet market needs. Endurance Races were a thing of the past beginning in 1992. All races became one-hour sprints.
Lotusport disappeared prior to the 1992 season, leaving Corvette to dominate the season. Smith took his second Drivers' Championship in a Dieline Corp. Corvette over Kim Baker and teammate Bill Cooper. Gigliotti again took the B class in his Pace America Camaro over the Metalcraft Mazda RX-7 Turbo of Makoto Yamamura. Dave Jolly won his first World Challenge Championship in the C Class in a Metalcraft Oldsmobile Achieva. While Honda missed the Drivers' Championship again, it took the Manufacturers' title off the strength of Taz Harvey's second place. Neil Hannemann won the new D Class Championship in the HighwayMaster Eagle Talon over teammate Bill Saunders.
In 1993, the D class disappeared as the Eagles grew turbos and moved into the B class with the BMW M3. Racing legend Elliott Forbes-Robinson broke the Corvette streak, piloting the Dal Tech Nissan 300 ZX Turbo to five wins and a 13-point win over Smith's Dieline Corvette and Boris Said's BluBlocker Saleen Mustang.
Gigliotti's two season-ending wins in the B class weren't enough to overcome Willy Lewis' Archer Brothers Eagle Talon T. Ron Emmick and Cunningham battled all season long in the C Class, with Emmick's Metalcraft Oldsmobile edging Cunningham's Autotechnica/Red Line Oil Honda Prelude by three points. Honda again took the manufacturers' title.
Classes were renamed again in 1994 to World Challenge, Touring Car and Super Production. Porsche returned as a major player with Kelly Moss Racing. Price Cobb topped teammate Mauro Baldi after winning the final three races of the season. Cobb's title propelled him to the worldwide Porsche Cup-becoming the first driver to do so.
Hannemann won his second Drivers' Championship in three years-this time in Touring Car, scoring two wins in his Archer Brothers Eagle Talon to best Gigliotti's Camaro by seven points. Jolly again took the Super Production Drivers' Championship away from Cunningham's Prelude, but Honda again took the Manufacturers' Championship over Oldsmobile.
The World Challenge class was again renamed in 1995, to Sport, but little changed, as Porsche battled Corvette for supremacy. David Murry piloted his Rohr Motorsport Porsche 911 GT2 to five wins in eight races to top John Heinricy's Morrison Corvette 432 to 369. Hannemann took his second-straight Touring Car Championship by a single point (389 to 388) over Archer Brothers Racing teammate Lewis as Eagle topped Chevrolet for the Manufacturers' title. After finishing runner-up three times, Cunningham took the Super Production Class Championship in his RealTime Racing Honda Prelude over Paul Booher's ICY Racing Saturn, giving Honda its fourth-straight Manufacturers' Championship.
World Challenge was split into two categories, Sports and Touring, in 1996, each broken into two classes, designated S1, S2, T1 and T2.
With the S1 class not arriving until late in the season, the S2 class featured the fastest World Challenge cars ever. Loosely based on the European FIA GT2 rules, the cars ran on slick tires for the first time; and, while fields were small, provided exciting racing. Almo Coppelli's Callaway Corvette edged Shane Lewis' radical Mosler Intruder by two points. The top four manufacturers were within two points, with Saleen winning a tiebreaker with Porsche to take the title over Callaway and Mosler. Martin Snow took the three-race S1 Championship in his Porsche 911 Turbo.
Gigliotti returned to championship form in 1996, taking the T1 title in his LG Saleen Mustang, winning two races. Lewis' Talon and Kermit Upton's BMW completed the top-three, with Eagle taking Manufacturers' honors in a tiebreaker over Ford/Saleen.
Rookie Michael Galati won the second-straight T2 Drivers' Championship for RealTime Racing's Honda Prelude by two points over Taz Harvey's Prelude and Alain Chebeir's BMW. Honda captured its fifth-straight World Challenge Manufacturers' Championship.
High costs eliminated the Sports Category in 1997, and the T1 Championship shaped up as a battle of American muscle versus high-revving Japanese technology. Cunningham earned his second World Challenge Drivers' Championship in T1, driving to four victories in his RealTime Racing Acura NSX, despite missing one race. Gigliotti's Saleen Mustang was second, with two wins, followed by the similar car of Rob Fellows. Ford/Saleen's strong presence rewarded it with the Manufacturers' Championship.
RealTime Racing introduced the Acura Integra Type R to T2 in 1997, with rookie Pierre Kleinubing earning the Drivers' Championship over Booher's Saturn and teammate Galati. Points for Acura and Honda were split in 1997, allowing Saturn to take the Manufacturers' Championship for the first time.
Saleen returned to the 1998 T1 Championship, sweeping the top two spots in the Drivers' Championship with Terry Borcheller and Ron Johnson over Cunningham's RealTime NSX. The specialty car builder also dominated the Manufacturers' Championship.
Galati used consistency in his RealTime Acura Integra R to take his second T2 Championship-the fourth-straight for the team-over teammate Kleinubing and Lance Stewart's DC Sports Integra R. Acura earned the Manufacturers' Championship, the sixth for American Honda.
The off-season between 1998 and 1999 proved to be the most pivotal for the World Challenge, as the Speedvision Network-a cable broadcasting station dedicated to the fastest things in the air, water and the road-became a part owner in the series and its title sponsor. Exposure and purses grew exponentially, as did the fields. The 1999 season would average nearly 50 cars per race between the two classes.
Archer drove a Viper Speed Dodge Viper to his second-career Championship, winning the Speedvision GT title by a scant point over Peter Kitchak's Porsche 911. Porsche took the Manufacturers' title over Chevrolet, which featured the debut of its new C5, with Scotty B. White giving the car its first win (Vancouver). Archer earned a $50,000 bonus for his Championship-the biggest ever in SCCA Pro Racing history.
Galati branched out to form his own Speedvision Touring Car Acura team in 1999, but the results were the same, taking the title by three points over RealTime's Kleinubing and his teammate Hugh Plumb. Galati tied the all-time record for consecutive wins at the start of the season (four). Acura again took the Manufacturers' Championship.
In 2000, both series ran separately for the first time and standing starts made their debut. The season saw giant jumps in participation, averaging over 70 cars per event between the two series.
Jeff McMillin became the first driver ever to win a title without a win when he scored top-10 finishes in all 10 Speedvision GT races. He became only the third driver ever (joining Galati and Plumb from 1999) to record 10 top-10s in a season. Galati jumped to the Champion Audi GT team in 2000 and finished second, recording the marque's first win in World Challenge at Las Vegas. In all, six different drivers and marques won on the season.
Kleinubing captured his second title by winning the Speedvision Touring Car Championship for RealTime over rookie Neal Sapp (TC Kline Racing BMW 328Ci). Acura took the manufacturers' title, but fought BMW into the last race.
In 2001, new changes include a new spec tire from Toyo Tires, and boosted purses across the board due to various new sponsorships.
Michael Galati became the first driver to win four World Challenge Drivers' Championships, taking the Speedvision GT title with four wins and helping Audi to its first-ever Manufacturers" Championship. Galati battled his former team owner Peter Cunningham all the way. Cunningham won the statistics race, recording seven poles and five wins in his supercharged Acura NSX, but a DNF at Lime Rock hurt his title chances. Galati became the second-straight Speedvision GT driver to place in the top-10 in each race, and he and Cunningham each eclipsed the $100,000 mark in purse and contingency prize money earned for the first time in series history. Audi took the Manufacturers title by a scant point over Acura, with Porsche a close third. Johannes van Overbeek (Porsche, third in points) was the only driver other than Galati or Cunningham to win a race.
Pierre Kleinubing captured his second-straight Speedvision Touring Car title and the third of his career (all with RealTime) with a consistent run, earning three wins in his Acura Integra R. Neal Sapp won four races, and finished runner-up for the second straight year and helped BMW earn its first-ever Manufacturers title in a runaway over Acura. Other drivers scoring wins in Touring Car were Steve Pfeffer (BMW), Bill Auberlen (BMW) in a run from last to first in the Lime Rock rain and Roger Foo, recording the first win for the Honda Civic Si.
In 2002, Speed Channel took over for Speedvision as the title sponsor after Speedvision was bought by Fox and re-named. The series names changed to Speed World Challenge, Speed GT and Speed Touring Car, respectively.
Michael Galati continued to set new records by capturing his fifth Drivers Championship, and second-straight Speed GT Championship. The Championship once again came down to Galati and Cunningham, with Galati scoring three wins and finishing no lower than sixth in all ten races. Cunningham took the Championship down to the final event at VIR, but his exceptional run of finishes, including one win, five podiums and ten top-10 finishes was no match for Galati. Randy Pobst finished third in the Championship with four wins and a podium finish in each of the seven events he entered. Based on Pobsts dominating run, Porsche took home another Manufacturers title, its third in four years.
In Speed Touring Car, defending Champion Pierre Kleinubing faced a stout challenge from an unlikely source, RealTime Racing team boss Cunningham. Originally running Speed Touring Car to help Kleinubing score a third straight title, the plan changed mid-season when two straight 34th place finishes evaporated Kleinubings points lead and moved Cunningham into contention. At seasons end, Cunninghams consistency gave him the title, his third World Challenge title and sixth overall in SCCA Pro Racing competition. Rookie of the Year Marc Kirberg completed the top three in the final point standings. Acura, by virtue of the strong runs by both RealTime pilots, brought home its fourth Manufacturers Title since 1998.
In 2003, SPEED GT switched to the new Toyo Proxes RA-1 race compound DOT-approved tire, which helped establish new track records in both qualifying and in the race.
In SPEED GT, it looked like Bill Auberlen was poised to win the Drivers Championship
with a good showing in the penultimate round of the season at Road Atlanta. He had a 20-point lead over Randy Pobst. However, on lap 13 a broken halfshaft forced Auberlen to retire, while Pobst went on to win the race . With the win and coupled with Auberlens 25th place finish, Pobst catapulted into first place and held a 12-point lead heading into the season finale in Puerto Rico. Despite a variety of scenarios, Pobst could essentially clinch the Championship if he finished fourth or better, regardless of where Auberlen finished. After qualifying on the pole, Pobst took matters into his own hands and won the Caribbean shootout. With the win, Pobst not only won the Drivers Championship, but he also secured the SCCA SPEED GT Manufacturers Championship Presented by Racer Magazine for Audi. Auberlen (three wins) and Phil McClure (two wins) completed the top three in the final standings. Other winners on the season included Mike Fitzgerald (two wins) and rookie Paul Mumford, who was tragically killed in a plane crash shortly after his win at Laguna. Tom Oates won Rookie of the Year.
In SCCA SPEED Touring Car, Auberlen captured the Drivers Championship following his second place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with two races remaining. Auberlen thoroughly dominated SCCA SPEED Touring Car with four wins, eight podiums, three pole positions, set seven fast race laps and never finished below fourth place. Three-time SPEED Touring Car Champion Pierre Kleinubing (three wins) and Auberlens teammate Will Turner finished second and third, respectively in the final standings. With Auberlens help, BMW won the SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers Championship Presented by Racer Magazine. Other winners on the season included Bob Endicott, Peter Cunningham. Matt Plumb won the SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year, becoming the second Plumb brother to win the award, matching the feat of brother Hugh in 1998. Additionally, after qualifying second four times, Shauna Marinus became the first female driver to win a Touring Car pole position.
Thanks in part to both a highly competitive racing format and top-notch drivers, SPEED World Challenge moved even closer to the forefront of the road racing landscape in 2004. In its September issue, Car and Driver magazine called World Challenge "the best road racing in the country, telling its readers what World Challenge enthusiasts had known for years.
In SPEED GT, Tommy Archer proved that winning a championship doesnt mean winning every race. In fact, he only won once (Portland), but it was his eight top-five finishes in 10 events that propelled him and his Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to the SCCA SPEED GT Drivers Championship. The title was especially impressive considering Archer had not competed in World Challenge since 1991. Michael Galati led all SPEED GT drivers with three wins in 2004, driving an Audi RS 6. Those victories and five podium finishes overall led him to a second-place finish in points, just six behind Archer. However, because of Galatis and teammate Randy Pobsts (who won at Lime Rock and finished fourth in points) efforts, it was Audi who walked away with the SPEED GT Manufacturers Championship presented by RACER magazine. Competing in the brand new Cadillac CTS-V, Max Angelelli won two races, including the season-opener at Sebring, and finished third in the point standings. Rookie Wolf Henzler burst on to the scene in 2004 with two victories, and Ron Fellows also earned a win at Mosport. Mike McCann took home Rookie of the Year honors, beating out his brother, Jim.
Bill Auberlen flexed his championship-winning muscle once again in 2004, earning his second-consecutive SPEED Touring Car Drivers Championship. Auberlen didnt waste any time in his BMW 325i, taking both the pole and the win at the first two events of the season, and three of the first four. Though he didnt win another race for the remainder, his efforts were good enough to hold off Nic Jonsson, who finished second in his BMW 325Ci. Matt Plumb picked up the first two wins of his SPEED Touring Car career and used those, plus nine top-10 finishes, to earn third in the point standings in his Acura TSX. On the strength of Auberlen and Jonssons showings, BMW handily won the SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers Championship presented by RACER Magazine. A late-season push by Acura (two wins by Pierre Kleinubing and one for Plumb after an early win), closed the gap to 69-54. Dino Crescentini won the SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year.
Tim Wiens, owner of 3R-Racing, was presented the Jim Cook Award and Jason Marks, of Bimmerworld, was named recipient of the Zimmermann Cup.
SPEED World Challenge ratcheted up the "wow" factor a few more levels in 2005 as both the SPEED GT and SPEED Touring Car Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships were in doubt until the very end of the year. That was especially the case in SPEED GT, which was fittingly named the "most competitive road racing in the world" by RACER Magazine in its June issue.
Those who thought Tommy Archer's 2004 Championship run was improbable after he won just a single race had to think Andy Pilgrim's run to the top simply unfathomable as the Team Cadillac driver earned his first title without recording a single win. Consistency was once again the name of the game as Pilgrim never finished lower than 10th and finished second twice. His efforts, along with teammates Max Angelelli, Max Papis and Ron Fellows (who all won races), propelled Cadillac to the SPEED GT Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine over Porsche.
Had it been based on finishes alone, Pilgrim's title would have gone to Archer (who won twice to start the season), but a pair of five-point penalties (Cleveland, Infineon), forced Archer behind Pilgrim. Farnbacher Loles Porsche driver Wolf Henzler also scored a pair of wins (Mid-Ohio, Denver), and Lou Gigliotti broke a couple of major streaks as he won (Infineon) for the first time since 1997 and broke a 24-race winless streak for Corvette. Robin Liddell scored a victory at Cleveland, and Dino Crescentini broke into the winner's column in his very first SPEED GT race (Portland). Sonny Whelen earned SPEED GT Rookie of the Year honors and finished 12th overall in the point standings.
After winning Championships in 2003 and '04, Bill Auberlen only made cameo appearances in SPEED Touring Car 2005. He did well at the events he ran (two wins and three podium finishes), but his downgraded role in the series opened the way for an epic, season-long showdown between individual drivers and their teams. Peter Cunningham, World Challenge's most successful driver in history, earned his 29th career win to jumpstart his and his RealTime Racing team's season. Not to be outdone, Randy Pobst, a former SPEED GT champion who signed on with Tri-Point Motorsport in the off-season, put Mazda on the map with a win at St. Petersburg in Round Two.
The new RealTime livery got plenty of time in the spotlight as
Pierre Kleinubing won the next three races (Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio,
Cleveland), giving Acura a stronghold on the Manufacturers'
Championship. Auberlen's return and maxed-out REWARDS weight stopped
Acura's winning streak cold as Auberlen won Rounds Six and Seven
(Lime Rock, Infineon) - the last rounds he would compete in. A first
win by Eric Curran at Denver followed by another first-time winner in
Charles Espenlaub at Mosport highlighted the next two rounds and set
up best-finisher take all between Acura and Mazda at Mazda Raceway
Laguna Seca. John Angelone stole the show to a degree, handily
winning in an Audi, but Peter Cunningham rose to the occasion once
again, finishing third (a spot in front of Pobst), which clinched the
Drivers' Championship for Cunningham and another Manufacturers' title
April 13-15 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach w/CCWS
May 17-19 Larry H. Miller Dealers Utah Grand Prix w/ALMS
May 24 Lowe's Motor Speedway (CTC Pole Night)
May 25-28 Lime Rock SPEED Touring Car Classic
June 8-9 Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen Weekend (TC)
June 8-10 Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen Weekend (GT/TC)
July 6-8 Grand Prix of Toronto w/CCWS
July 20-22 Mid Ohio Sports Car Course w/IRL and ALMS
Aug. 24-26 Grand Prix of Mosport w/ALMS
Oct. 3-5 Petit Le Mans Atlanta w/ALMS
Oct. 19-21 Monterey Sports Car Championships w/ALMS
The 2007 schedule is a mix of exciting new venues and World Challenge classics ready to thrill race fans across the continent.
For the sixth season in-a-row, SCCA SPEED World Challenge will open its season at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring with the American Le Mans Series. As in years past, the SPEED GT and Touring Car races will be the featured races on Friday, March 16, at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, leading into the classic 12-hour ALMS race on Saturday.
The SCCA SPEED GT cars will then trek across the country to the streets of Long Beach, Calif. For the second year in-a-row, the GT cars will go solo as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an extravagant festival of speed with the Champ Car World Series and ALMS, April 13-15.
Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, will have an earlier date in 2007. SCCA SPEED GT and Touring Car will reunite May 17-19 for their second appearance at the nations longest road course to take part in the Utah Grand Prix with ALMS.
Canadian fans will have twice the opportunities to see SPEED World Challenge in 2007. The series travels across the border and to the streets of Exhibition Place, July 7-8, for its first visit to the Grand Prix of Toronto with the Champ Car World Series. Ontarios race fans will also have an opportunity to see both series on a traditional road course as well at Mosport International Raceway. The 2007 Grand Prix of Mosport trades the Labor Day weekend of seasons past for an August 25-26 date, where the series will make its 17th appearancemore than any other racing venue.
For the ninth-straight year, Road Atlanta will host a stop on the tour, with the Petit Le Mans event, October 2-6. SCCA SPEED GT and Touring Car take their traditional place on the week-long event headlining Friday, with the ALMS endurance classic taking place on Saturday.
For updates on the 2007 SPEED World Challenge season visit www.world-challenge.com
Photo Gallery - Laguna
Photo Gallery - Sears Point
Lynda Randall 785.357.7223 or e-mail
SCCA Pro Racing/Speed World Challenge Office
PO Box 19400 (Mail Only)
Building 300, B Street (Shipping Address)
Topeka, KS 66619
785.357.7223, fax 785.233.7223