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 seven of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at Road America. Teams would compete on the fourteen-turn 4.048-mile circuit during the Generac 500 weekend.
|The second fastest qualifier for round seven of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car championship, Chip Herr, leads the field of twenty-starters into Road America’s turn eight. Behind Herr is the Tindol Motorsport Mazda 6 of the pole-sitter, Charles Espenlaub. Trailing the leaders are the reigning series champion, Peter Cunningham, seventh-place starter, Brian Smith and Cunningham’s teammate, Eric Curran.|
|Chip Herr repeated the performance that he delivered in round three at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Driving the International Autos/ North Shore Audi sponsored Audi A4, he qualified on the outside of the front row. As predicted, the all-wheel-drive advantage allowed, Herr, to jump into first place before corner one. From there, it was a flag-to-flag victory – winning by a margin of 1.677-seconds.|
|Starting on the pole for round seven of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car race at Road America was Charles Espenlaub. This was the best qualifying effort of the season for the driver of the No. 97 Tindol Motorsports prepared Mazda 6. To no one’s surprise, Espenlaub lost the drag race to the first corner and tucked in behind Chip Herr. He chased Herr for seventeen laps and finished in the runner-up position.|
|It appeared that Road America suited the Dodge SRT-4. Brian Smith qualified seventh and was in third place when he retired with a flat tire. Rookie, Robb Holland drove the No. 67 SRT-4 prepared by 3R-Racing and started fifth. Holland inherited third place when Smith dropped out of the race. He held onto the position and earned his first podium finish and received the Piloti Rookie of the Race award.|
|Tindol Motorsports entered three Mazdas at Road America. The driver line-up included Charles Espenlaub, Mary Katharine and Charlie Putman. Putman drove the No. 96 Mazda 6 and started second last in the twenty-one-car field. On the opening lap, he advanced four positions and received the B&M Shifters Holeshot award. After seventeen-laps of racing, Putman finished in seventeenth place.|
|This was Jon Prall’s fifth season in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car series. His best result to date was starting ninth and finishing seventh at his home track, Infineon Raceway. At Road America, Prall failed to record a qualifying time and started from the rear of the field. During the race, he moved up the order and advanced the most positions, which earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger award.|
|After six rounds, three-time series champion, Pierre Kleinubing, led the Driver’s point standings. Highlights of his season included podium finishes at each event and race wins at Infineon and Utah. At Road America, Kleinubing was off the pace and qualified eleventh fastest. His performance improved in the race and he finished in eighth place. More importantly, Kleinubing was still first in the title chase.|
|Battling Pierre Kleinubing for the 2006 Touring Car title was the series 2003 Grand Touring champion, Randy Pobst. Pobst was in contention for the top Touring Car honours last season but his main rival was Kleinubing’s teammate, Peter Cunningham, who won the title. At Road America, Pobst narrowed the points gap to just twenty-one-markers by qualifying and finishing in the fourth position.|
|The round seven SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium at Road America. In the center and scoring his second victory of 2006 is Chip Herr. Standing on the left side of the rostrum is the runner-up, Charles Espenlaub, who delivered his best result of the season. The final spot of the podium is occupied by the World Challenge rookie, Robb Holland. Holland also gave the Dodge SRT-4 its best finish to date.|
|1||2||Chip Herr||Audi A4||17||-|
|2||1||Charles Espenlaub||Mazda 6||17||-|
|3||5||Rob Holland||Dodge SRT-4||17||-|
|4||4||Randy Pobst||Mazda 6||17||-|
|5||6||Eric Curran||Acura RSX||17||-|
|6||10||Jeff Altenburg||Mazda 6||17||-|
|7||3||Peter Cunningham||Acura TSX||17||-|
|8||11||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura TSX||17||-|
|9||12||Christian Miller||Volkswagen Jetta||17||-|
|10||9||Brandon Davis||Acura TSX||17||-|
|11||15||Jeff Courtney||Audi A4||17||-|
|12||18||Freddy Baker||Audi A4||17||-|
|13||16||Karl Poeltl||BMW 325i||17||-|
|14||23||John Prall||BMW 325Ci||17||Mechnical|
|15||17||Toby Grahovec||BMW 325i||17||-|
|16||22||Mary Katharine||Mazda Protege||17||-|
|17||20||Charlie Putman||Mazda 6||15||Off Course|
|18||7||Brian Smith||Dodge SRT-4||15||-|
|19||14||Seth Thomas||BMW 325i||3||Overheating|
|20||13||Nick Esayian||Acura RSX||2||Transmission|
|21||21||Seth Neiman||BMW 325Ci||1||Accident|
|22||8||Dino Crescentini||Mazda 6||0||Did Not Start|
|23||19||Kuno Wittmer||Mercedes C230||0||Did Not Start|
|24||24||James Clay||BMW 325i||0||Did Not Start|
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