In 2002, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge Championship was in its thirteenth season. For the fourth year Speed Channel was the primary sponsor – (in the off-season the Speedvision channel was renamed Speed). 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 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 vehicles 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 eleven-race weekends during the 2002 season. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway followed by back to back race weekends in May at Mosport Park and Lime Rock. The teams would take a break until the end of June when they would travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The series then moves to Road America followed by the inaugural National Grand Prix at Washington, D.C. After these weekends the championship returns to Canada with a stop at Trois-Rivieres and a second visit to Mosport – just for the Touring Car category. The teams will head west in September and compete at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The penultimate rounds will take place at Road Atlanta and the series finale will be held at a new venue, Virginia International Raceway.

The Speed World Challenge Touring Cars were making their second 2002 visit to Mosport International Raceway – their first stop was on the Canadian long weekend in May. Drivers would compete on the ten-turn 2.459-mile former Grand Prix circuit for fifty-minutes.

The pole-sitter for round eight of the 2002 Speed World Challenge series was Will Turner who beat the field of the thirty-four starters to Mosport International Raceway’s first corner. Behind Turner, and barely holding on to second place is the other front row starter, Paul Bonaccorsi in the No. 40 Mazda Protege ES. Challenging Bonaccorsi for the position is the BMW of the winner in May, Ken Dobson and Chuck Hemmingson in a Mazda.
The No. 40 Mazda Protege was raced by Paul Bonaccorsi. Bonaccorsi won his first race of the season at Road America. At Mosport, he showed some speed in practice but stepped up his game in qualifying and started on the outside of the front row. Bonaccorsi followed the leader, Will Turner until lap-6 when Turner made a mistake at Moss Corner. He grabbed the lead and despite pressure from Turner, he scored his second victory of 2002.
The second practice session was conducted on a drying track. Quickest of the group that participated was Mike Fitzgerald in the Team FBR Lexus IS300. Fitzgerald finished third in the two previous rounds – Washington and Trois-Rivieres. At the second Mosport race, he started fourth and chased the leaders, Paul Bonaccorsi and Will Turner. On the final lap, Fitzgerald beat Turner in a drag race to the checked and earned the runner-up spot.
Will Turner was having a productive year. In round four at Mid-Ohio, he scored his first victory since 1999. At the second Mosport event, Turner qualified on the pole. During the race, he led the first five-laps but on the sixth circuit, he went wide at Moss Corner. This allowed Paul Bonaccorsi to draft past on the Mario Andretti Straight. Turner attempted to pass Bonaccorsi on the final lap but lost the position to Mike Fitzgerald.
Chuck Hemmingson entered the Mosport weekend fresh off his victory two-weeks earlier at Trois-Rivieres. Hemmingson was driving the No. 19 OPM Motorsports Mazda Protege ES with backing from Mazda and Crocotile. He was quick in practice and qualified third for the fifty-minute contest. On lap-12 of the race, Hemmingson lost third place to Mike Fitzgerald. He remained in fourth place until the end of the event.
Ken Dobson captured his first series victory at Mosport earlier in the season. Driving the SSF Imported Auto Parts BMW 325Ci, Dobson showed he was still ‘on form’ by turning the fastest time for both practice sessions. In qualifying, his performance slipped and Dobson was fifth quickest. For the most part, Dobson had an uneventful race and finished in the same position as he started.
Gridded twenty-fifth for the start of the race was Rick Gilhart driving the No. 54 BMW 325Ci prepared by DuPont Motorsports. On the opening lap of the contest, Gilhart passed the most competitors (three) which earned him the B&M Hole Shot Award. He made good progress during the race (passing as many as two cars per lap) and at the checkered flag, Gilhart was in twelfth place.
In 2002, James Sofronas was competing in the series on a part-time basis. To date, he had entered the first race at Mosport International Raceway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America. At Road America, Sofronas qualified second but fell off the pace and finished second. During qualifying for round eight at Mosport, he was sixth quickest. Able to maintain his position, Sofronas finished in the sixth spot.
The Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium for round eight at Mosport International Raceway. To the left from Team Franz Blam Racing is the runner-up, Mike Fitzgerald who posted his best result of the season. In the center of the rostrum is the winner for the second time this year, Paul Bonaccorsi. Completing the podium is Turner Motorsport’s team principal, Will Turner.

18Paul BonaccorsiMazda Protege27-
214Mike FitzgeraldLexus IS30027-
33Will TurnerBMW 325i27-
47Chuck HemmingsonMazda Protege27-
54Ken DobsonBMW 325Ci27-
65James SofronasBMW 325is27-
79Peter CunninghamAcura Integra Type R27-
82Pierre KleinubingAcura Integra Type R27-
922Taz HarveyHonda Civic Si27-
1012Mark KirbergBMW 325is27-
1114Neal SappBMW 325is27-
1225Rick GilhartBMW 325Ci27-
1321Roger FooMazda Protege27-
149Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege27-
1526Leo CapaidiMercury Cougar27-
1622Alfred duPontBMW 325is27-
1715Paul GargiuloBMW 32527-
1818Frank SelldorffBMW 325i27-
1927Peter SchwartzottHonda Civic Si27-
2017Mark MacLeanLexus IS30027-
2129Mark MitchellHonda Civic Si27-
2220John PrallBMW 328i27-
2316Jocelyn HebertAcura Integra Type R27-
2430Michael ThornleyAcura Integra Type R27-
2533Nick WoodhouseBMW 325i27-
2610Shauna MarinusMazda Protege27-
2711Bobby SakBMW 325i26Mechanical
2831James LucasHonda Civic Si26-
2932William RoedigerAcura GSR26-
3034Robert BaxterMazda Protege22-
3119Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege17Mechanical
3228John BoschBMW 328i11Accident
3323Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci6Mechanical
3424Chris GleasonBMW 325i6Mechanical

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