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.

The start of the 2003 season’s second Touring Car race held at Road Atlanta – the series made its first appearance in June. There was a total of thirty-eight starters. Leading the field is pole-sitter Pierre Kleinubing in the RealTime Racing Acura RSX. Immediately behind Kleinubing are Jeff Altenburg in a Mazda Protégé, the Nissan SE-R of Peter Cunningham and Bill Auberlen driving a BMW 325i.
Mid-season, former series champion, Pierre Kleinubing had a string of back luck which reduced his chances of winning another title. At the Petit Le Mans, Kleinubing captured his first pole position of 2003. Driving an Acura RSX prepared by RealTime Racing, he led all twenty-five laps and won by a margin of 5.331-seconds. This was his third victory of the season – the first two came at Mosport and Lime Rock.
Jeff Altenburg was fresh off a win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Altenburg started third on the grid driving the TriPoint prepared Mazda Protégé. At the start, he jumped into second place when Peter Cunningham spun in turn one of the first lap. Altenburg was never challenged and maintained the position for the remainder of the race. He also took the runner-up spot at the June event.
In 2003, defending Touring Car champion, Peter Cunningham traded his Acura ride for an opportunity to race a Nissan SE-R. Cunningham scored his first victory in the Nissan at Road America. At Road Atlanta, he qualified on the outside of the front row but contact on the first lap in corner one dropped him to fifth. On lap-20 of twenty-five, Cunningham passed Bill Auberlen for third and captured the final spot on the podium.
Nic Jonsson drove the No. 27 BMW 325Ci entered by Tecmak Autosport. Jonsson qualified sixth quickest and during the event logged the fastest race lap. In the process, he established a new lap record for the Touring Car class which was 1.648-seconds faster than the time set by Bill Auberlen in June. Unfortunately, Jonsson’s race ended on lap-20 when the BMW suffered a transmission issue. He was classified in the thirtieth position.
In June at Road Atlanta, Bill Auberlen led flag-to-flag and captured the Touring Car victory in a Turner Motorsports prepared BMW 325i. By the second visit to Road Atlanta, Auberlen had clinched the Touring Car title – he won the championship in round eight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. At the Petit Le Mans weekend, Auberlen started and finished fourth.
Rookie Bob Endicott entered the World Challenge series with a number of championships as an amateur racer and solo competitor. Driving the King Motorsports Acura RSX, he scored his first Touring Car victory at Mid-Ohio. The Road Atlanta weekend was not as kind to Endicott. He qualified ninth but on the eighth lap, his right front suspension failed in turn ten. Thinking it was a flat tire, Endicott returned to the pits but lost the right front wheel.
Former Spec Miata champion, Bob Stretch adapted quickly to the World Challenge series, proving to competitive in his rookie season. Stretch started fifth on the grid, driving the Wheels America BMW 325Ci. At the checkered flag, he dropped a position and finished sixth. During the 2003 season, Road Atlanta was Stretch’s second-best qualifying and race result.
The highest placed rookie was Matt Plumb driving the No. 50 duPont Motorsport BMW 325. Plumb was twelfth quickest at the end of the qualifying session and after twenty-five laps of racing finished fifth. This was his second best result of the season – in round three at Lime Rock he started and finished second.
Earning the Sunoco Hard Charger Award was Andrew Lewis. The award is given to the driver that advances the most places during the race. Lewis qualified the No. 47 HP Racing / Maximum Auto Body Acura Integra Type R twenty-sixth and was twelfth at the checkered flag – improving fourteen positions during the contest.
Zac Mazzotta driving one of the RealTime Racing Acuras won the B&M Hole Shot Award. This award is given to the competitor that advances the most places on the opening lap. Mazzotta started twenty-fourth in the RealTime RSX and passed eight cars before the completion of the first lap. At the conclusion of the contest, he was in eleventh place.
The World Challenge Touring Car podium at Road Atlanta. On the left is the runner-up Jeff Altenburg and to the right is Peter Cunningham, who captured the final position on the rostrum. Between these two is the winner Pierre Kleinubing. This was Kleinubing’s third victory of the 2003 season, his nineteenth World Challenge win but his first at Road Atlanta.

11Pierre KleinubingAcura RSX-S25-
23Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege ES25-
34Peter CunninghamNissan SE-R25-
42Bill AuberlenBMW 325i25-
512Matt PlumbBMW 32525-
65Bob StretchBMW 325Ci25-
714Roger FooMazda Protege ES25-
815Mike FitzgeraldLexus IS30025-
921Michael GalatiAudi A425-
1010Eric CurranNissan SE-R25-
1124Zac MazzottaAcura RSX-S25-
1226Andrew LewisAcura Integra R25-
1319Tim PappasLexus IS30025-
1428Chet WittelMazda Protege ES25-
1522Matt RichmondBMW 328i25-
1618James ClayBMW 325i25-
1717Jon PrallAudi A425-
187Chuck HemmingsonMazda Protege ES25-
1920Mike Van SicklenLexus IS30025-
2032Justin ElderMazda Protege ES25-
2111Will TurnerBMW 325i25-
2231Kevin McKeeAcura Integra R25-
2334Phil ParlatoBMW 325i25-
2427Larry SteppMazda Protege ES25-
2538Jim OsbornBMW 325i25-
2636Nick WoodhouseBMW 325i24-
278Shauna MarinusMazda Protege ES24-
2823Frank SelldorffBMW 325i24-
2925Robert BaxterMazda Protege ES22-
306Nic JonssonBMW 325Ci20Transmission
3129Scott PoirierMercedes-Benz20-
3213James SofronasBMW 325Ci14Accident
3330Peter SchwartzottAcura RSX-S11Suspension
349Bob EndicottAcura RSX-S8Accident
3533Rick GilhartAcura Integra Type R5Electrical
3635Mark GermanMazda 6263Suspension
3716Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege ES2Mechanical
3837Rick MakiBMW 325Ci2Suspension

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