In 2006, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge series was in its 17th-season. With SPEED TV as the primary sponsor, the 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 (GT) class and another for Touring Cars (TC).

  • Grand Touring – The Grand Touring class rules accommodated a broad range of vehicles from different manufacturers. Engine displacements ranged from the 2.5-litre turbocharged Volvo S60-R to the Dodge Viper with an 8.3-liter V10 motor. While most of the cars were rear wheel drive, the series also permitted all-wheel-drive vehicles such as the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Porsche 911 AWD TT, Subaru WRX STI and Volvo S60R. A majority of the competitors raced the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup or Dodge Viper.

  • Touring Car – The Touring Cars were limited to an engine displacement of 2.8-liters. Vehicles originally equipped with turbocharged or supercharged motors were also homologated for the series. The class was split predominantly between front wheel drive cars from Acura, Honda, and Mazda and the rear wheel drives such as the BMW 325. Also proving very competitive was the all-wheel-drive Audi A4.

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 added or removed ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver. The maximum amount of weight that could be removed from a vehicle was 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds could 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 Grand Touring class did not race at the Road Atlanta event. The opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida and the season ended in late October at Laguna Seca, California.

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.

FINISHSTARTDRIVERCARLAPSRETIREMENTS
13Lawson AschenbachPorsche 911 GT333-
24Johny O'ConnellCadillac CTS-V33-
37Ricardo ImeryPorsche 911 GT333-
41Lou GigliottiChevrolet Corvette C633-
510Bob WoodhouseDodge Viper33-
68James SofronasPorsche 911 GT333-
712Rob FosterDodge Viper33-
86Andy PilgrimCadillac CTS-V33-
916Tony GaplesChevrolet Corvette C633-
1011Lenny DillerDodge Viper33-
1118Greg WeirickChevrolet Corvette C633-
1213Sonny WhelenChevrolet Corvette C632-
1315Bob MillerPorsche 911 Cup32-
1420Claudio BurtinChevrolet Corvette C632-
1517Skip SaulsDodge Viper32-
1622Ed BraswellChevrolet Corvette C531-
1726Mike McCannDodge Viper30-
186Doug PetersonChevrolet Corvette C617Mechanical
1927Derek BursethDodge Viper14Mechanical
2021Adel ElsayedDodge Viper13Mechanical
215Leighton ReeseChevrolet Corvette C613Mechanical
2219Tom PapadopoulosAston Martin DB912Mechanical
232Tommy ArcherDodge Viper7Mechanical
2425John BourassaPorsche 911 Turbo6Mechanical
2524Igor SushkoNissan Skyline GT-r4Mechanical
2614Johnny MowlenAston Martin DB90Did Not Start
2724Mark LoPilatoPorsche 911 Turbo0Did Not Start

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