In 2003, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge series was in its fourteenth season. For the fifth year Speed Channel was the primary sponsor. 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 ten-race weekends during the 2003 season. The opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida followed by back to back race weekends in May at Mosport Park and Lime Rock. Two races would be held for the Grand Touring category at Lime Rock. Lime Rock was followed by the first of two events held at Road Atlanta (June and October). Both classes competed at Infineon Raceway but the next event at Mid-Ohio was only for Touring Cars. The series moved to Road America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and then the penultimate round at Road Atlanta. The series finale was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Round ten of the 2003 World Challenge Grand Touring Championship was held at Road Atlanta. Drivers would compete for twenty-seven laps or fifty minutes, whichever came first, around the twelve-turn 2.54-mile road course.

A total of twenty-seven World Challenge GT cars took the green for the penultimate round of the 2003 season. On the pole is the 3R Racing Porsche 911 GT3 driven by Mike Fitzgerald. Sharing the front row with Fitzgerald is Randy Pobst in the Champion Racing Audi RS 6. Qualifying third and fourth is the BMW Team Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 driven by Bill Auberlen and Phil McClure’s 3R Racing Chevrolet Corvette.
World Challenge competitors were quick to acknowledge the advantage of all-wheel-drive on the starting grid and in wet conditions. This is especially evident at the start of round nine at Road Atlanta. Michael Galati driving an all-wheel-drive Audi RS 6 qualified sixth. After the green lights come on for the start, Galati is ahead of the third, fourth and fifth fastest starters and will be in second place by corner one.
Randy Pobst started on the outside of the front row in the Champion Racing Audi RS 6 but moved into first place before turn one and led flag-to-flag. To this point in the season, Pobst had six podium finishes (one second place finish and five third place finishes) but was yet to win a race. The victory at Road Atlanta gave him the points lead heading into the final round at Puerto Rico.
In 2003, Mike Fitzgerald scored victories at Road Atlanta in June and Road America. Fitzgerald failed to start the second Lime Rock race which eliminated any chance of him winning the title. In the series second visit to Road Atlanta, Fitzgerald qualified on the pole. At the start, the all-wheel-drive advantage of Randy Pobst’s Audi dropped Fitzgerald to second place. He would hold the spot and finish behind Pobst.
Defending Grand Touring champion, Michael Galati qualified sixth but the all-wheel-drive feature of the Champion Audi RS 6 allowed him to pass three cars before the first turn. Galati also passed pole-sitter Mike Fitzgerald but slid wide in corner one and Fitzgerald took the position back. Galati remained in third and captured the last spot on the podium. His spectacular start earned him the Remus Power Move of the Race.
It was a very disappointing weekend for the Grand Touring point’s leader, Bill Auberlen. Auberlen qualified fifth the Prototype Technology Group BMW M3. He was running with the race leaders when the transmission broke on lap-13. Auberlen’s worst finish to this point in the season was a tenth at the first Road Atlanta event. He was classified in twenty-fifth place and lost the point’s lead to the race winner, Randy Pobst.
Phil McClure was the early point’s leader – he won the opening rounds at Sebring and Mosport. McClure did not compete in the previous round at Laguna Seca due to an accident he suffered at Road America. Missing the Laguna event took him out of contention for the 2003 title. At Road Atlanta, he was as competitive qualifying and finishing fourth.
‘Making the most with the least’ would have to be David Farmer’s little race team. Farmer did not enjoy the financial or factory backing of the bigger teams but in the first eight rounds of the 2003 season, he had six top-ten results. At Road Atlanta, he would score his best finish of the year. Starting fifth, he was in the sixth position at the checkered flag.
Justin Marks provided some consolation to the Prototype Technology Group after the teams three other drivers had a miserable weekend. Marks qualified thirteenth in the No. 80 BMW M3 but improved six positions in the race to finish, seventh. His effort earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions during the contest.
The highest finishing rookie was Michael McCann. McCann started ninth in the McCann Plastics Dodge Viper Competition Coupe and finished a season-high fifth. Unfortunately, early in the race he made contact with the BMW of Boris Said and knocked him of course. As a result of the incident, McCann was placed on probation.
Road Atlanta’s Grand Touring podium. Standing on the top step of the victory stand for the first time during the 2003 season is Champion Racing’s, Randy Pobst. Pobst is flanked by the runner-up Mike Fitzgerald who drove the 3R Racing Porsche 911 GT3 and his Champion Racing teammate, Michael Galati.

12Randy PobstAudi RS 627-
21Mike FitzgeraldPorsche 911 Cup27-
36Michael GalatiAudi RS 627-
44Phil McClureChevrolet Corvette Z0627-
59Michael McCannDodge Viper27-
65David FarmerChevrolet Corvette Z0627-
713Justin MarksBMW M327-
810Michael CulverPorsche 911 Cup27-
912Tim WiensPorsche 911 Cup27-
108Boris SaidBMW M327-
1116Bob WoodhouseDodge Viper27-
127Hans StuckBMW M327-
1314Jim McCannDodge Viper27-
1411Victor ContrerasPorsche 911 Cup27-
1517Thomas OatesChevrolet Corvette Z0626-
1620Tony GaplesChevrolet Corvette26-
1722John BourassaPorsche 911 Turbo26-
1821Kenny HawkinsDodge Viper26-
1924Adel ElsayedDodge Viper26-
2025Mike HartleyDodge Viper GTS26-
2118Jon GroomPorsche 911 Cup25-
2226Carol HollfelderFord Mustang24-
2315David BarrDodge Viper20Accident
2419Kevin ChambersChevrolet Corvette Z0615-
253Bill AuberlenBMW M313Transmission
2627Randy HaleFord Mustang10Mechanical
2723Keith VidettoChevrolet Corvette Z067Over Heating

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