In 2004, the World Challenge series entered its fifteenth season. For the sixth consecutive year, Speed Channel was the primary sponsor.
As evidenced by the growth of the series, the Sports Car Club of America 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 nine-race weekends during the 2004 season with a double-header events for each class. Touring Cars would race Saturday and Sunday at Infineon Raceway and the Grand Touring competitors would have a similar format at Mosport International Raceway. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway, Florida, followed by a two-month break before teams travelled to Lime Rock Park. The third race weekend of the year was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the teams trekked west for races at Infineon. Competitors stayed on the west coast for races at Portland International Raceway. Next, the championship made its only Canadian stop at Mosport. Returning south of the border, the first stop was Road America. The penultimate round was held at Road Atlanta and the series finale took place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series returned to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for round three of the championship. Thirty-three Grand Touring competitors would compete on the thirteen-turn 2.258-mile road course for fifty-minutes.
|The Audis of the top two qualifiers, Michael Galati and Randy Pobst, lead the field of thirty-three starters into the ‘Esses’ for the first lap of round three at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Trailing the Audis is the Cadillac CTS-V of John Heinricy and Tommy Archer in a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. Following Heinricy and Archer is the Porsche 911 GT3 of the third-fastest qualifier, Michael Culver.|
|Local favourite, Michael Galati qualified on the pole driving the No. 2 Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6. This would be Galati’s event - after starting first, he would lead flag-to-flag. But it wasn’t that easy, Galati was pressured by his teammate, Randy Pobst, who finished second – the margin of victory was just 0.249-seconds. The win was important for Galati as it ended his seventeen-race winless streak.|
|Qualifying second was the reigning GT Speed World Challenge champion, Randy Pobst. Piloting the Audi Certified Pre-Owned Audi RS 6, he was just 0.062-seconds slower than his teammate and pole-sitter, Michael Galati. During the race, Pobst ran nose-to-tail with Galati but was unable to make a pass. While he tried to improve his position, Pobst also had to contend with the Cadillac of John Heinricy but he held on for second place.|
|Making a guest appearance in the third Cadillac was John Heinricy. Heinricy was the Director of High-Performance Product Engineering at General Motors and won many of his amateur titles at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He qualified fourth fastest but at the start, Heinricy moved into third place before the field arrived at the ‘Esses.’ He challenged the leading Audis but finished third – 0.777-seconds behind Randy Pobst.|
|Tommy Archer finished fourth in the opening round at Sebring and repeated this performance in the second event of the year at Lime Rock Park. In qualifying at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Archer was seventh fastest driving the No. 22 Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. He had an excellent start and moved into fourth and the opening lap. Archer would not relinquish position and grabbed another fourth-place result.|
|Michael Culver driving the First Racing Porsche 911 Cup and the Tiger Racing Chevrolet Corvette Z06 of Tom Oates delivered excellent qualifying performances. Culver was third quickest and Oates, who won two amateur national titles at Mid-Ohio, was fifth fastest. During the race, they found themselves locked in battle but contact in the ‘Esses’ took them out of contention. Oates finished twelfth and Culver, fourteenth.|
|Trenton Forging was campaigning the only Pontiac GTO in the series. The Pontiac was powered by a 6.0-liter aluminum V8, which produced just over 500-horsepower. The team was having some challenges with the car. It retired after seven laps at Sebring and finished eighteenth at Lime Rock. In round three, Hayner started twenty-fifth but advanced ten positions during the race to earn the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.|
|Sports car veteran, Lou Gigliotti competed in the World Challenge series during the 90s and won three titles before moving on to the Trans Am series. In 2004, he returned World Challenge for a full season. He opened the year with a thirteenth place at Sebring and a ninth at Lime Rock. In round three, Gigliotti was gridded tenth driving the LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and was in tenth place at the checkered flag.|
|The Speed World Challenge Grand Touring podium for round three at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Standing in the center is the winner, Michael Galati, who ended his winless drought that went back to July 2002. On the left side of the rostrum is the runner-up and Galati’s teammate, Randy Pobst. Completing the podium is General Motor’s Director of High-Performance Product Engineering, John Heinricy.|
|1||2||Michael Galati||Audi RS 6 Competition||24||-|
|2||1||Randy Pobst||Audi RS 6||24||-|
|3||4||John Heinricy||Cadillac CTS-V||24||-|
|4||7||Tommy Archer||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|5||10||Lou Gigliotti||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||24||-|
|6||9||Max Angelelli||Cadillac CTS-V||24||-|
|7||12||Andy Pilgrim||Cadillac CTS-V||24||-|
|8||16||John Young||Saleen SR||24||-|
|9||6||Mike McCann||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|10||18||Stan Wilson||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|11||15||Tony Gaples||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||24||-|
|12||5||Thomas Oates||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||24||-|
|13||14||Jim McCann||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|14||3||Michael Culver||Porsche 911 Cup||24||-|
|15||25||Stu Hayner||Pontiac GTO||24||-|
|16||17||Jon Groom||Porsche 911 Cup||24||-|
|17||23||Sonny Whelen||Dodge Viper||24||-|
|18||20||Rich Marziale||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|19||28||Mike Hartley||Dodge Viper GTS||24||-|
|20||27||Lenny Diller||Viper Competition Coupe||24||-|
|21||29||John Bourassa||Porsche 911 T||24||-|
|22||19||Leighton Reese||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||24||-|
|23||33||Adel Elsayed||Viper Competition Coupe||23||-|
|24||24||Kevin Chambers||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||20||-|
|25||8||Bob Woodhouse||Viper Competition Coupe||19||-|
|26||32||Carol Hollfelder||Ford Mustang||14||Mechanical|
|27||30||Kevin Chambers||Chevrolet Corvette||12||Mechanical|
|28||21||Tim Wiens||Viper Competition Coupe||4||Engine|
|29||25||Jameson Riley||BMW M3||4||Mechanical|
|30||31||Warren Diller||Viper Competition Coupe||3||Mechanical|
|31||13||Phil McClure||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||1||Accident|
|32||11||Jeff McMillin||BMW M3||0||Wheel|
|33||26||Keith Videtto||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||0||Mechanical|
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