In 2001, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge Championship was in its twelfth season. For the third year, Speedvision was the primary sponsor. SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans. A couple changes of note for this year:
  • There were larger purses due to an increase in the number of sponsors.
  • Competitors would be using a new spec tire from Toyo.

Race weekends included two standing start races (limited to fifty-minutes) – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT class rules accommodate an extensive range of vehicles from different manufacturers. There is no limit to the engine displacement in this category and cars may use a forced induction system. To stop the cars, alternative materials may be utilized for the brake pads and shoes. Rules also allow the use of four-piston calipers but rotors are limited to 14-inches in diameter. The maximum diameter of the wheels is 18-inches and any changes to the bodywork must be approved. The series uses a spec tire and competitors race on Toyo Proxes RA-1s.
  • Touring Car (TC) – The Touring Cars are limited to an engine displacement of 2.8-liters. The motors must be naturally aspirated (turbochargers or superchargers are not permitted). The Touring Cars are also allowed four-piston calipers and alternative materials for the brake pads and shoes but the maximum rotor diameter is 12-inches. Wheels in this group are limited to 17-inches. Cars can be fitted with a spec rear wing and approved aftermarket bodywork. This category also uses a spec tire from Toyo – the Proxes T1-S.

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 eight-race weekends during the 2001 season. The opening rounds were in March at Texas Motor Speedway and Sebring, Florida. Teams weren’t back in action until May at Mosport International Raceway and Lime Rock Park. Lime Rock would be a doubleheader for the Touring Cars. The next event would be at Detroit’s Belle Isle which was just for the Grand Touring category. The championship would move to the west coast with races at Sears Point Raceway, Portland International Raceway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The final weekend was at Road Atlanta. The schedule initially included a round at Charlotte Motor Speedway but when that venue was cancelled Road Atlanta became a doubleheader weekend.

Round two was at Sebring International Racing as part of the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend. Thirty World Challenge GT cars would compete in a 50-minute race around the 3.74-mile 17-turn road course.

Late Friday afternoon and thirty World Challenge GT competitors funnel into Sebring’s very quick turn one. P.D. Cunningham made a good start in the Acura NSX and was closely followed by the Audi S4 of Michael Galati and, 2000 series champion, Jeff McMillin driving a BMW M3.
Johannes van Overbeek earned the pole driving the No. 81 Porsche 911 Cup. He fell back to tenth place on the first lap when he made a bad start - the result of missing a shift from first to second. However, with some hard driving, he worked his way back to a third place finish and earned the Borla Performance Award.
Peter Cunningham driving a supercharged Acura NSX qualified second and led the first two laps of the event before the Audi S4 of Michael Galati passed him. With two laps to go, he retook the lead using a daring outside pass at turn seventeen. For the leader of RealTime Racing, it was his twentieth career victory in World Challenge competition which broke the tie for most series wins with Lou Gigliotti.
Jeff McMillin won the 2000 World Challenge GT Champion and opened the 2001 season with fifth place at Texas Motor Speedway. At round two he started sixth in his BMW M3 and ran third for much of the race. He was passed by Mike Fitzgerald and Johannes van Overbeek on lap-15. At that the checker he finished fifth which put him fourth in the Driver's Championship.
The No. 38 Peterson Motorsports Porsche 911 Cup was driven by Mike Fitzgerald. He started and finished in fourth. Combined with his fourth place finish at the season opener, in Texas, Fitzgerald left Sebring with a third place in the Driver’s standings.
Series 'Rookie' John Young drove the No. 44 Saleen SR. Saleen, an American manufacturer of specialty high-performance cars, introduced the SR in 2000 after successfully modifying Ford Mustangs. The car was powered by a 5.8-liter V8 Ford which produced approximately 525-horsepower. Young started fifteenth and moved up the order to finished tenth.
During practice Daniel Eastman went wide at the Tower Turn – he continued without any serious consequences. Driving a Porsche RSR Eastman started nineteenth and finished eleventh.
G.J. Mennen was scheduled to race the No. 08 Chevrolet Corvette. He was also entered in the Trans Am event with Victoria Motorsports. During the Trans Am race, he made hard contact with the turn-14 wall and decided not to compete in the World Challenge race. His seat was filled by, series veteran, Paul Brown who had never driven the car or raced at Sebring. Brown started thirtieth and finished fifteenth.
Michael Galati started the Champion Racing Audi S4 Competition from the third position. He turned the fastest race lap (2:22.359) and led laps three through sixteen. However, Peter Cunningham passed him with two laps remaining in the race - leaving Galati just 0.381-seconds shy of first place.
The No. 01 Pirate Chevrolet Corvette C5 was driven by Bill Cooper. Cooper started fifth but mechanical problems after eleven laps forced him to retire. He was classified in twenty-seventh position.
The 2001 World Challenge GT podium at Sebring. On the left is second place finisher Michael Galati and at the right Johannes van Overbeek, who captured third. Between these two is the winner Peter Cunningham. The weekend was a World Challenge 'clean-sweep' for RealTime Racing as Pierre Kleinubing won the Touring Car class.

12Peter CunninghamAcura NSX18-
23Michael GalatiAudi S4 Competition18-
31Johannes van OverbeekPorsche 911 Cup18-
44Mike FitzgeraldPorsche 911 Cup18-
56Jeff McMillinBMW M318-
612Scott BovePorsche 911 Cup18-
79Jimmy AdamsPorsche 911 Cup18-
817Bob MillerPorsche 911 Cup18-
910Justin MarksPorsche 911 Cup18-
1015John YoungSaleen SR18-
1119Daniel EastmanPorsche RSR18-
1211Justin JacksonPorsche 911 Cup18-
138Phil McClureChevrolet Corvette C518-
1421Thomas Safar IISaleen SR17-
1530Paul BrownChevrolet Corvette C517-
1624David FarmerChevrolet Corvette C517-
1718Freddy BakerAudi S4 Competition17-
1816Jack LewisPorsche 911 Cup17-
1926James SofronasBMW M317-
2022Michael CulverBMW M317-
2114Keith AlexanderPorsche 911 Cup17-
2225Mark DixonPontiac Firebird17-
2329Joe BlackerAudi S417Mechanical
247Derek BellAudi S4 Competition17-
2523Walter SwickBMW M317-
2631Carol HollfelderFerrari F355 Challenge17-
275Bill CooperChevrolet Corvette11Mechanical
2813Boris SaidFord Mustang6Mechanical
2928Joe SulenticFord Mustang4Accident
3020Bobby SakChevrolet Corvette C54Mechanical

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