In 2003, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge series was in its fourteenth season.
For the fifth year Speed Channel was the primary sponsor.
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 ten-race weekends during the 2003 season. The opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida followed by back to back race weekends in May at Mosport Park and Lime Rock. Two races would be held for the Grand Touring category at Lime Rock. Lime Rock was followed by the first of two events held at Road Atlanta (June and October). Both classes competed at Infineon Raceway but the next event at Mid-Ohio was only for Touring Cars. The series moved to Road America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and then the penultimate round at Road Atlanta. The series finale was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Round one of the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT championship was held at Sebring International Raceway as a support event for the 12-Hours of Sebring. Thirty Grand Touring drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.
|The field for round one of the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT championship exits Sebring International Raceway’s final turn and prepare to line-up for the start. Pacing the field of thirty starters is the pole-sitter, Phil McClure driving the No. 73 Aggregate Industries sponsored Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Sharing the front row with McClure is the Champion Audi Racing Audi RS 6 driven by Randy Pobst.|
|In last year’s race at Sebring, Phil McClure qualified seventh and ran as high as second place before finishing fourth. This year the driver of the 3R Racing prepared Chevrolet Corvette Z06 started on the pole. On the first lap of the race, McClure was passed by the Audi of Randy Pobst and John Young in a Saleen SR. Young was in the lead on lap-3 when he lost a motor which allowed McClure to grab the top spot and the victory.|
|With Randy Pobst leaving the 3R Racing team for Champion Audi Racing the seat in the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup became vacant. Replacing Pobst would be Mike Fitzgerald who drove a Porsche for Petersen Motorsports in 2000 and won the prestigious Porsche Cup. At Sebring, Fitzgerald qualified fourth. During the race, he gained a position when John Young retired and passed Randy Pobst which resulted in a runner-up finish.|
|Randy Pobst made his debut with Champion Audi Racing in their new Audi RS 6. Last season, he competed in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with 3R Racing and succeeded in winning four GT events. Pobst was gridded on the outside of the front row but beat the field to the first corner. He completed lap-1 in second place but during the contest lost positions to Phil McClure and Mike Fitzgerald to grab a third place finish.|
|Tom Milner’s Prototype Technology Group assembled quite a formidable driver line-up which included former Formula One competitor and sports car veteran, Hans Suck. He drove the No. 8 BMW M3 which was campaigned last season by 2000 GT champion, Jeff McMillan. Stuck qualified seventh fastest but a mechanical issue forced him to start from the pit-lane. He charged through the thirty car field and was in fourth place at the finish.|
|Team Hurricane Racing owner, John Bourassa put former IMSA GTU champion, Lance Stewart in the seat of his Porsche 996 for round one. Stewart was gridded at the rear of the field in thirty-second place. He didn’t remain in this position for very long. By the end of the first lap, Stewart was in twelfth place which he maintained until the end of the contest. For his effort, Stewart received the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.|
|Probably the most interesting Speed World Challenge GT entry in round one at Sebring International Raceway was Tom Hollfelder’s Morgan Aero 8GT. This aluminum bodied race car is powered by a 4.4-liter BMW M62 V8 engine. Fitted to the motor is a 6-speed Getrag transmission. Hollfelder who regularly competes in vintage events qualified twenty-eighth and was in twentieth place at the checkered flag.|
|In 2003, the Prototype Technology Group was campaigning three BMW M3 in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge GT championship. The No. 7 entry was driven by Bill Auberlen. Auberlen made his series debut in 2001 driving a BMW in the Touring Car category – he had one victory in three starts. In the season opener, Auberlen qualified sixth and despite a spin caused by a power steering issue, he finished fifth.|
|John Young was a former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor who joined the World Challenge GT championship fulltime in 2002. Last season, Young scored his first series victory at Virginia International Raceway and earned the GT Rookie of the Year title. At Sebring International Raceway, the driver of the No. 44 Saleen SR qualified third but jumped into an early lead. Young’s race ended on lap-3 when he lost an engine.|
|1||1||Phil McClure||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||18||-|
|2||4||Mike Fitzgerald||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|3||2||Randy Pobst||Audi RS 6||18||-|
|4||7||Hans Stuck||BMW M3||18||-|
|5||6||Bill Auberlen||BMW M3||18||-|
|6||12||Tim Wiens||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|7||15||Jim Rathmann||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||18||-|
|8||14||Jimmy Adams||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|9||10||Michael Culver||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|10||13||Rob Fellows||Ford Mustang||18||-|
|11||11||David Farmer||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||18||-|
|12||32||Lance Stewart||Porsche 911 Turbo||18||-|
|13||17||Charles Espenlaub||Ford Mustang||18||-|
|14||19||Tony Gaples||Chevrolet Corvette||18||-|
|15||23||Steve Goldin||Porsche 911 Cup||18||-|
|16||24||Tom Oates||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||18||-|
|17||21||Jon Groom||Porsche 911 Cup||17||-|
|18||25||Geenady Soykher||Porsche 993 RSR||17||-|
|19||29||Selby Wellman||Porsche 911 Cup||17||-|
|20||28||Tom Hollfelder||Morgan Aero 8GT||17||-|
|21||18||Scott Findlay||Porsche 911 Cup||17||-|
|22||31||Rick Boysal||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||16||-|
|23||9||Boris Said||BMW M3||15||-|
|24||27||Mike Hartley||Dodge Viper GTS||12||Mechanical|
|25||5||Michael Galati||Audi RS 6||9||Mechanical|
|26||33||Adam Andretti||Chevrolet Corvette||7||Mechanical|
|27||3||John Young||Saleen SR||2||Mechanical|
|28||20||Brad Flowers||Mazda RX-7||2||Mechanical|
|29||16||Henry Gilbert||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||1||Accident|
|30||8||Victor Contreras||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Mechanical|
|31||22||Don Campbell||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||0||Did Not Start|
|32||26||Paul Mears, Jr.||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Did Not Start|
|33||30||Thomas Pank||Porsche 911 Cup||0||Did Not Start|
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