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. Thirty-one Touring Car drivers competed in a fifty-minute race around the fourteen-turn 1.800-mile temporary street course.

The pole-sitter, Randy Pobst leads the field of thirty-one Touring Cars through turn-one on the first lap at Saint Petersburg. Behind Pobst, the seventh place qualifier, Chip Herr gets sideways in the STaSIS Audi and the RealTime Acuras of Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing go wide. But the real action was behind the leaders – an accident eliminated - Eric Curran, Brian Smith, Hugh Stewart and Jim Osborn.
Defending race winner, Randy Pobst drove the No. 73 Mazda 6 prepared by Tri-Point Motorsports. In the season opener at Sebring, he finished in the runner-up position - but Saint Petersburg was a different story. Pobst dominated the weekend – he was quickest in the practice sessions and qualified on the pole by 0.555-seconds. He led the race flag-to-flag and headed to Mid-Ohio with the points lead.
2005 Speed TV World Challenge Touring Car champion, Peter Cunningham drove the No. 1 RealTime prepared Acura TSX. Cunningham qualified third and avoided the melee on the opening lap. A poor start by his teammate, Pierre Kleinubing allowed Cunningham to grab second place. He chased Pobst, but lapped traffic prevented him from getting close enough to pass the leader. Cunningham took the runner-up spot.
Three-time World Challenge Touring Car champion, Pierre Kleinubing drove one of the five Acuras entered by RealTime Racing. At Saint Petersburg, he was the second-fastest qualifier. A poor start caused him to lose second place to Peter Cunningham. He chased Cunningham and despite turning the fastest race lap, he was unable to make the pass. Kleinubing captured the final position on the podium.
Seventh fastest qualifier, Chip Herr made a great start but almost caused a second accident on the first lap when he momentarily lost control of the No. 17 Audi A4T. Herr saved the car and fell in behind the leaders – Randy Pobst, Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing. The driver of Qvale/STaTIS Engineering was challenged by the Mazda 6 of Charles Espenlaub but prevailed and finished fourth.
Charles Espenlaub was looking for redemption at Saint Petersburg. In the season opener at Sebring, Espenlaub qualified the Tindol Motorsport Mazda 6 second and finished in the top-ten but at the end of the event, he was disqualified. For round two, he qualified fourth and was involved in the starting line incident with Eric Curran. Espenlaub’s Mazda was damaged but he was able to continue and finish fifth.
At Sebring, the No. 2 Turner Motorsports BMW 325i was driven by Bill Auberlen. Auberlen started and finished first in round one. Team principal, Will Turner handled the driving duties at Saint Petersburg. Turner was eighth quickest in qualifying and avoided the start line incident which claimed four cars. After almost fifty-minutes of racing, he was in sixth place.
The highest finishing rookie was Jeff Courtney. Courtney drove one of three Audi A4T entered by STaSIS Engineering. He was gridded a respectable thirteenth for the start of the race. At the checkered flag, Courtney improved sixth positions and moved into the top-ten to finish in seventh place.
Difficulties before qualifying prevented Touring Car veteran, Lance Stewart from recording a time. Driving the Circuit City/Kicker/Eclipse sponsored Mazda 6, Stewart was gridded thirty-first in the thirty-four car field. During the race, he advanced seventeen positions and finished sixteenth. Stewart’s efforts earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Rookie, Billy Revis was not entered in round one at Sebring. The driver of the No. 14 Motorsports Connections BMW 325 qualified thirty-first at Saint Petersburg but retired on lap-25 with a mechanical issue and was classified twenty-first. Despite this disappointing outcome, Revis won the B&M Sport Shifters Holeshot Award for advancing nine positions on the first lap.

FINISHSTARTDRIVERCARLAPSRETIREMENTS
11Randy PobstMazda 629-
23Peter CunninghamAcura TSX29-
32Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX29-
47Chip HerrAudi A429-
54Charles EspenlaubMazda 629-
68Will TurnerBMW 325i29-
713Jeff CourtneyAudi A429-
810Brandon DavisAcura TSX29-
916Freddy BakerAudi A429-
1014Nick EsayianAcura RSX29-
1117Kuno WittmerMercedes-Benz C23029-
1223Christian MillerVolkswagen Jetta28-
1319Dan AweidaDodge SRT-428-
1427Rob HollandDodge SRT-428-
1524Mark HeinHonda Civic Si28-
1633Lance StewartMazda 628-
1730Mary KatharineMazda Protege28-
1828Karl PoeltlBMW 325i27-
1926Charlie PutmanMazda 627-
2029Paul GoldmanBMW 325i26-
2131Billy RevisBMW 325i25Mechanical
2212James ClayBMW 325i25-
2311Justin HallBMW 325Ci20Mechanical
2422Phil ParlatoBMW 325i20Mechanical
2520Justin HallBMW 325Ci20-
269Seth ThomasBMW 325i13Mechanical
275Jeff AltenburgMazda 64Mechanical
2818Brian SmithDodge SRT-40Accident
2925Hugh StewartDodge SRT-40Accident
3021Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci0Accident
316Eric CurranAcura RSX0Accident
3215Dino CrescentiniMazda 60Did Not Start
3332Henry BrosnahamMazda Protege0Did Not Start
3434Michael FlynnSubaru WRX0Did Not Start

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