2006 marked the seventeenth season for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) very successful
SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series. With SPEED TV back on board as the primary sponsor,
SCCA had developed a successful format that continued to attract competitors and fans.
Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring (GT) class and another for Touring Cars (TC).
To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System is 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. The maximum amount of weight that can be removed from a vehicle is 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds can be added to a GT class car and 150-pounds to a Touring Car.
There were eleven-race weekends during the 2006 season – ten-races for the two classes. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach and the GT class was not invited to the Denver event. The opening round is in March at Sebring International Raceway, followed by a second event in Florida at Saint Petersburg. The GT category has a race at Long Beach in April and rejoins the Touring Car division for a race weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the championship takes a trip to the West Coast for an event Infineon Raceway. Competitors stay in the West for races at the new Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Teams return to the East for events at Road America and Mosport International Raceway. Next, the Touring Cars make a stop at Denver, Colorado. The penultimate round is held at Road Atlanta and the series finale takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Round two of the 2006 Speed TV World Challenge Series took place at Honda Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg. Twenty-five Grand Touring drivers competed in a fifty-minute race around the fourteen-turn 1.800-mile temporary street course.
The start of the race was delayed when the Aston Martin DB9 of Johnny Mowlem caught fire on the formation lap.
|Round two at Saint Petersburg and the Grand Touring pole-sitter, Lou Gigliotti in a Chevrolet Corvette C6 is the first to arrive at corner one. Rookie, Lawson Aschenbach who was gridded third makes a great start in the No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 and slots in behind Gigliotti. Fourth place starter, Johnny O’Connell tucks in behind the lead pair and the second fastest qualifier, Tom Archer in the Dodge Viper goes wide.|
|Rookie, Lawson Aschenbach drove the AXA Financial sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 and qualified third. He trailed the race leader, Lou Gigliotti until he made a successful pass on lap-16. In turn-ten, Aschenbach made a mistake that cost him three positions but he worked his way back to the front. On lap-31, the leader, Andy Pilgrim had problems with his Cadillac and Aschenbach inherited the lead and victory.|
|Sharing the front row with the pole-sitter, Lou Gigliotti was Tommy Archer. He drove the No. 5 Dodge SRT Viper. At the start of the race, Archer lost positions to Aschenbach, O’Connell and found himself battling with the Corvette of Leighton Reese. He made contact with Reese on lap-2 which resulted in damage to both cars. For his actions, Archer received a stop-and-go penalty and was fined ten drivers’ points.|
|Finishing second, 7.973-seconds behind the winner, Lawson Aschenbach was Johnny O’Connell. O’Connell started in the fourth in the XM/Mobil 1 Cadillac CTS-V but by the mid-point of the contest, he was in second place. On lap-18, he slowed with an electrical issue and dropped to sixth. Resetting the switches appeared to fix the problem and O’Connell moved through the field to capture the runner-up position.|
|There were two rookies driving the John Groom Porsches – Lawson Aschenbach and Ricardo Imery. Imery drove the No. 64 Porsche 911 GT3 and qualified seventh. During the race, he was able to maintain contact with the leaders. As the laps wound down, Imery was third but a spin by Gigliotti elevated him to second. A late race pass by O’Connell sent him back to a third which is where he finished.|
|World Challenge and Trans Am veteran, Lou Gigliotti drove the No. 28 LG ProLong Tube Headers sponsored Chevrolet Corvette C6. Gigliotti had three World Challenge titles. In qualifying, he set a new lap record and won the pole position by 0.594-seconds. Gigliotti led the early part of the race but some shuffling landed him in the runner-up spot. On the penultimate lap, he spun in corner ten and finished fourth.|
|Bob Woodhouse opened the season at Sebring with a excellent performance. Woodhouse driving the Woodhouse Auto Family Dodge Viper qualified ninth. He inherited a couple of positions and passed James Sofronas and Lawson Aschenbach to finish third. At Saint Petersburg, Woodhouse started tenth and it appeared that he would be fourth at the checker but a last lap pass by Lou Gigliotti dropped him to fifth.|
|Three rookies finished in the top-ten – the winner, Lawson Aschenbach, his teammate, Ricardo Imery and Rob Foster. Racing the No. 17 LTI Contracting Dodge Viper was Foster. He started in the twelfth grid position and drove a steady – taking advantage of some of the misfortune encountered by the other competitors. At the checkered flag, Foster was in seventh place.|
|2005 Speed TV Grand Touring champion, Andy Pilgrim returned with Cadillac to defend his title. Pilgrim who drove the No. 1 CTS-V and was gridded sixth for the start. As the event came to a conclusion, he was in the lead and holding off a hard-charging Lawson Aschenbach. On lap-31 of 33, the Cadillac’s ignition appeared to fail and Pilgrim pitted. He recycled the electrics, rejoined the race and finished eighth.|
|1||3||Lawson Aschenbach||Porsche 911 GT3||33||-|
|2||4||Johny O'Connell||Cadillac CTS-V||33||-|
|3||7||Ricardo Imery||Porsche 911 GT3||33||-|
|4||1||Lou Gigliotti||Chevrolet Corvette C6||33||-|
|5||10||Bob Woodhouse||Dodge Viper||33||-|
|6||8||James Sofronas||Porsche 911 GT3||33||-|
|7||12||Rob Foster||Dodge Viper||33||-|
|8||6||Andy Pilgrim||Cadillac CTS-V||33||-|
|9||16||Tony Gaples||Chevrolet Corvette C6||33||-|
|10||11||Lenny Diller||Dodge Viper||33||-|
|11||18||Greg Weirick||Chevrolet Corvette C6||33||-|
|12||13||Sonny Whelen||Chevrolet Corvette C6||32||-|
|13||15||Bob Miller||Porsche 911 Cup||32||-|
|14||20||Claudio Burtin||Chevrolet Corvette C6||32||-|
|15||17||Skip Sauls||Dodge Viper||32||-|
|16||22||Ed Braswell||Chevrolet Corvette C5||31||-|
|17||26||Mike McCann||Dodge Viper||30||-|
|18||6||Doug Peterson||Chevrolet Corvette C6||17||Mechanical|
|19||27||Derek Burseth||Dodge Viper||14||Mechanical|
|20||21||Adel Elsayed||Dodge Viper||13||Mechanical|
|21||5||Leighton Reese||Chevrolet Corvette C6||13||Mechanical|
|22||19||Tom Papadopoulos||Aston Martin DB9||12||Mechanical|
|23||2||Tommy Archer||Dodge Viper||7||Mechanical|
|24||25||John Bourassa||Porsche 911 Turbo||6||Mechanical|
|25||24||Igor Sushko||Nissan Skyline GT-r||4||Mechanical|
|26||14||Johnny Mowlen||Aston Martin DB9||0||Did Not Start|
|27||24||Mark LoPilato||Porsche 911 Turbo||0||Did Not Start|
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