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.

Round one of the 2002 Speed World Challenge Series was held at Sebring International Raceway as a support event for the 12-Hours of Sebring. Forty-five Touring Car drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.

Forty-five Speed World Challenge Touring Car competitors head for Sebring International Raceway’s very quick turn one. Leading the way is the pole-sitter, Pierre Kleinubing in the No. 1 Acura Integra Type R. Tucked in behind Kleinubing is the BMW of seventh place starter, Ken Dobson. Also jumping to the front is the Mazda of fourth fastest qualifier, Charles Espenlaub and Kevin Schrantz in a Volkswagen Jetta.
The reigning Speed TV Touring Car Champion and defending race winner, Pierre Kleinubing started the season with a similar performance to last year. RealTime’s new Acura RSX wasn’t ready but that seemed to be of little consequence as Kleinubing not only qualified on the pole with last year’s Type R but set a new lap record. In the race, he lost the lead to the BMW of Ken Dobson but took the position back on the last lap for the win.
In 2001, Ken Dobson made an impressive series debut at Mosport when he started thirty-ninth and finished eighth – recording the fastest lap in the process. This season, Dobson drove the No. 7 BMW 325Ci. He made steady progress in the practice sessions and in qualifying was seventh quickest. After the race’s second restart, Dobson moved into first place but lost the lead to Pierre Kleinubing on the final lap – settling for second place.
RealTime team principal, Peter Cunningham was pulling double duty this weekend, competing in both the TC and GT divisions. Like Kleinubing, he drove an Acura Integra Type R as the new RSX was not ready. Cunningham was third quickest in the qualifying session. By the middle of the contest, he had fallen to fourth place but on the penultimate lap, Cunningham caught and passed Kevin Schrantz for the final spot on the podium.
Kevin Schrantz topped the timesheet in the second practice session driving the Metro Volkswagen sponsored Volkswagen Jetta. In qualifying, Schrantz could not match the speed of Pierre Kleinubing and started on the outside of the front row. On the race’s second restart, he and Ken Dobson passed the race leader, Pierre Kleinubing. Schrantz’s second place was short lived and on lap-16, he lost third place to Peter Cunningham.
In 2001, Mike Fitzgerald drove a RealTime Racing prepared Acura Integra Type R. In the offseason, Fitzgerald joined Team FBR/Trans Sport in a new Lexus IS300. Despite being the first weekend for the Lexus, it proved to be quite successful. Fitzgerald was sixth quickest in the opening practice session but he fell to eleventh in qualifying. During the race, Fitzgerald made steady progress and was fifth at the checkered flag.
Turner Motorsport entered BMW 325is for team owner, Will Turner, Frank Selldorf and Bobby Sak. Sak, a former Spec Racer competitor, joined the team in 2002 and drove the No. 93 BMW. Unfortunately, he failed to record any time in practice and qualifying. Starting last on the forty-five car grid, Sak moved through the field and by the end on the contest he was in twelfth position.
Another driver, having a challenging open weekend was Shauna Marinus. After the two practice sessions, Marinus was sixteenth quickest in a field of fifty entries. Issues with TriPoint Mazda Protege ES prevented her from recording a time in qualifying. On the opening lap of the race, Marinus gained twenty-four positions which earned her the B&M Holeshot award. Unfortunately, she retired after just two laps.
The Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium for round one at Sebring International Raceway. In the center of the podium is the race winner and defending series champion, Pierre Kleinubing. To Kleinubing’s left is the runner-up from Dobson Motorsport, Ken Dobson. Completing the rostrum is Kleinubing’s teammate and RealTime Racing’s team principal, Peter Cunningham.

11Pierre KleinubingAcura Integra Type R17-
27Ken DobsonBMW 325Ci17-
33Peter CunninghamAcura Integra Type R17-
42Kevin SchrantzVW Jetta17-
511Mike FitzgeraldLexus IS30017-
65Mark KirbergBMW 325is17-
710Chuck HemmingsonMazda Protege17-
88Taz HarveyHonda Civic Si17-
918Will TurnerBMW 325i17-
106Steve PfefferBMW 325is17-
1120Rick GilhartBMW 325Ci17-
1245Bobby SakBMW 325i17-
134Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege17-
1416Leo CapaidiMercury Cougar17-
1524Frank SelldorffBMW 325i17-
169Paul BonaccorsiMazda Protege17-
1717Mark MitchellHonda Civic Si17-
1823Rudy VajdakHonda Prelude17-
1914Sean MurphyAcura Integra Type R17-
2013Neal SappBMW 325is17-
2131John PrallBMW 328i17-
2241Phil ParlatoBMW 328i17-
2338Gary DavisBMW 328is17-
2435Matthew SklarzBMW 328is17-
2512Bobby CarterBMW 328is17-
2626Albert MirkoMazda 62617-
2739Raan RodriguezBMW 325i17-
2840Nick WoodhouseBMW 325i17-
2927John BoschBMW 328i17-
3042Fred MeyerAcura Integra Type R17-
3115Roger FooMazda Protege16-
3233Hugh StewartVW Jetta16-
3330Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci15-
3447Kyle ChuraFord SVT Focus12-
3532Mark HeinAcura Integra Type R8-
3629Mike BuzzettiAcura Integra Type R8-
3719Chris GleasonBMW 325i8-
3822Scott BradleyMazda Protege6Mechanical
3921Kevin GermanMazda 6262Mechanical
4025Andrew MonterrubioAcura Integra Type R2Contact
4144Shauna MarinusMazda Protege2Mechanical
4236Grant LockwoodHonda Prelude1Mechanical
4343Nick VitucciAcura Integra Type R1Mechanical
4437Terry McCarthyBMW 328is1Mechanical
4534Robert BaxterMazda Protege1Mechanical
4628Robert StretchBMW 3250Did Not Start
4746Paul GargiuloBMW 3250Did Not Start
4848Kird AzemarBMW 3250Did Not Start

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