In 2002, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge Championship was in its thirteenth season.
For the fourth year Speed Channel was the primary sponsor – (in the off-season the Speedvision channel was renamed Speed).
SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans.
Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.
To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System was implemented. Introduced in 1995, R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is the acronym for ‘Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity.' This weight equalization rule adds or removes ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver.
There were eleven-race weekends during the 2002 season. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway followed by back to back race weekends in May at Mosport Park and Lime Rock. The teams would take a break until the end of June when they would travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The series then moves to Road America followed by the inaugural National Grand Prix at Washington, D.C. After these weekends the championship returns to Canada with a stop at Trois-Rivieres and a second visit to Mosport – just for the Touring Car category. The teams will head west in September and compete at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The penultimate rounds will take place at Road Atlanta and the series finale will be held at a new venue, Virginia International Raceway.
Round one of the 2002 Speed World Challenge Series was held at Sebring International Raceway as a support event for the 12-Hours of Sebring. Twenty Grand Touring drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.
|On the extreme left, the pole-sitter, Michael Galati leads the charge into turn one and is followed by the second fastest qualifier, Peter Cunningham in the No. 42 Acura NSX. Behind Galati and Cunningham is the ensuing melee created by the Johannes van Overbeek incident which allowed John Young, Jeff McMillin, David Farmer and Phil McClure to join the leaders entering the first corner.|
|Last year, Michael Galati finished second at Sebring International Raceway. But in 2002 the driver of the Champion Racing Audi S4 Competition would not be denied the victory. In practice, Galati was never slower than third place and in qualifying, he grabbed the Woody’s Ice Pole Position. The defending champion was dominant in the race and led flag-to-flag despite a threat from the Acura NSX of Peter Cunningham.|
|Johannes van Overbeek driving the G&W Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup qualified third. At the start of the race, van Overbeek left the line slowly which caught many competitors ‘off guard’. The incident caused the Porsches of Bob Miller and Greg Merril to made contact and forced both drivers to retire. The clean-up was lengthy - it took five-laps under caution for the track services crew to clear the circuit of debris.|
|RealTime Racing’s, Peter Cunningham was the defending race winner. A fuel management issue prevented him from completing many laps in practice but with the Acura NSX repaired for qualifying, he was second quickest. At the start of the race, Cunningham and David Farmer made contact causing him to fall to sixth. He spent the remainder of the contest chasing down, the leader Michael Galati and fell short by 4.750-seconds.|
|The 2000 Speed World Challenge GT Champion, Jeff McMillin didn’t win a single race but used consistency to secure the title. After round one, it appeared that he would use that strategy again. McMillin qualified the No. 25 BMW M3 sixth quickest. The starting line incident allowed him to jump into third. From there, he traded the position with Phil McClure until lap-13 when he grabbed third place for the final time.|
|Phil McClure drove the No. 73 McClure Autosports Chevrolet Corvette ZO6. His performance improved with each practice session but he fell to seventh quickest in qualifying. McClure was one of the competitors to benefit from the starting line incident and was in second place until he was passed by Peter Cunningham. Challenging him next was Jeff McMillin. He was unable to hold off McMillin and finished fourth.|
|John Young surprised many of the series regulars during the weekend. Young in only his third Speed World Challenge event topped the timesheets in the two practice sessions. In qualifying, the driver of the Contact Metal Products sponsored Saleen SR was fourth quickest. The van Overbeek incident at the start of the race caused him to drop to eighth but Young battled with Phil McClure and Jeff McMillin to finish fifth.|
|Sports car racing legend, Derek Bell, entered the 2002 Speed World Challenge series with Champion Racing, teaming up with Michael Galati, in an Audi S4 Competition. Bell’s racing resume included winning the Le Mans 24 hours five times, the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. At the season opener in Sebring, he started ninth and finished seventh.|
|The 2002 Speed World Challenge Grand Touring podium for the opening round at Sebring International Raceway. To the right is the runner-up and last year’s victor from RealTime Racing, Peter Cunningham. On the opposite side of the podium is the third place finisher and the 2000 series champion, Jeff McMillin. Between these two is the winner from Champion Racing, Michael Galati.|
|1||1||Michael Galati||Audi S4 Competition||18||-|
|2||2||Peter Cunningham||Acura NSX||18||-|
|3||6||Jeff McMillin||BMW M3||18||-|
|4||7||Phil McClure||Chevrolet Corvette ZO6||18||-|
|5||4||John Young||Saleen SR||18||-|
|6||8||Justin Marks||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|7||9||Derek Bell||Audi S4 Competition||18||-|
|8||12||Michael Culver||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|9||5||David Farmer||Chevrolet Corvette ZO6||18||-|
|10||20||George Biskup||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|11||14||Tim Wiens||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|12||15||Daniel Eastman||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|13||16||Walter Swick||BMW M3||18||-|
|14||17||Charles Wicht||Chevrolet Camaro||17||-|
|15||18||Brad Flowers||Porsche 993 SC||17||-|
|16||21||Anthony DeMonte||Ford Mustang||7||Mechanical|
|17||19||Bill Richter||Ford Mustang||5||Mechanical|
|18||10||Bob Miller||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Accident|
|19||3||Johannes van Overbeek||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Mechanical|
|20||13||Greg Merril||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Accident|
|21||23||Bill Johnston||Chevrolet Corvette||0||Did Not Start|
|22||11||Eric Curran||Chevrolet Corvette||0||Did Not Start|
|23||22||Craig Gelston||Chevrolet Corvette||0||Did Not Start|
|24||24||Jeff Wade||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Did Not Start|
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