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 one of the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at Sebring International Raceway as a support event for the 12-Hours of Sebring. Forty Touring Car drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.

Forty Touring Car competitors head for the first corner at Sebring International Raceway on the opening lap of round one for the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car championship. Pulling away from the field is the pole-sitter, Bill Auberlen in the Turner Motorsport BMW 325i. Following Auberlen is the other front row starter, Roger Foo, driving the H&R Springs sponsored Mazda Protege ES.
Bill Auberlen made his first series start in 2001 at Lime Rock Park. He started from the pit lane (forty-fourth position) and drove through the field for the win. This would be his first full season in the Touring Car class and Auberlen gave notice early on that he would be a contender for the title. He topped both practice sessions and in qualifying, Auberlen broke the lap record by 3.413-seconds. He led the race flag-to-flag.
At Sebring, the 2000 and 2001 Speedvision Touring Car champion, Pierre Kleinubing, debuted a new Acura RXS-S. In practice, Kleinubing was at the bottom of the timesheets. Before qualifying, the RealTime crew corrected an electrical issue that was preventing the VTEC system from working. With the problem solved, Kleinubing qualified sixth. During the race, he made progress and at the finish, he grabbed the runner-up position.
Roger Foo’s H&R Springs / BBS sponsored Mazda Protege ES was assembled in just six weeks. But you would have never known that it was a ‘rush job.’ Foo was in the top-ten during both practice sessions and qualified on the outside of the front row - 0.797-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Bill Auberlen. He chased Auberlen for much of the race but a fuel starvation issue late in the contest caused him to finish third.
Team FBR debuted the Lexus IS300 in 2002. Their lead driver, Mike Fitzgerald, demonstrated the Lexus’ potential with three podium finishes – including a runner-up result at Mosport. In addition to Fitzgerald, the team entered cars for Tim Pappas and Mike Van Sicklen. Fitzgerald was third in both practice sessions and delivered the same performance in qualifying. During the race, he lost a position to the hard charging, Pierre Kleinubing.
The Sunoco Hard Charger Award is presented to the driver that advances the most positions during the race. At Sebring International Raceway, this honour went to Frank Selldorff. Selldorff joined Turner Motorsport in 2002. This year, his teammates were Bill Auberlen and team principal, Will Turner. Selldorff was gridded in thirty-fifth for the start. During the contest, he improved by thirteen positions to earn the hard charger title.
Another award given during the weekend was the B&M Hole Shot. This honour was to recognise the competitor improving the most positions on the first lap. Robert Baxter failed to record a time in qualifying and started fortieth. Incredibly, Baxter passed thirteen competitors on the opening lap. He may have also earned the Sunoco Hard Charger Award, but he lost positions when his Mazda slowed on the last lap.
2000 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year, Jeff Altenburg joined Tri-Point Motorsports’ Touring Car program for the last five races of 2002. He showcased his talent by finishing second at VIR, third at Road Atlanta and fifth a Trois-Rivieres. This year, Altenburg would participate in the entire season. After qualifying seventh, it appeared, he would start where he left off last year. Unfortunately, a cooling issue caused him to retire on lap-7.
Tim Pappas joined Team FBR in 2002. Pappas only competed in three events and as a result, was still classified as a rookie when he started this year’s campaign. He opened the season by qualifying tenth driving the No. 83 Lexus IS300. During the fifty-minute race, Pappas passed Bob Stretch, Chuck Hemmingston, Charles Espenlaub and with the retirement of Jeff Altenburg, he finished sixth – the highest placed rookie.

11Bill AuberlenBMW 325i17-
26Pierre KleinubingAcura RSX-S17-
32Roger FooMazda Protege ES17-
43Mike FitzgeraldLexus IS30017-
518Paul BonaccorsiMazda Protege ES17-
610Tim PappasLexus IS30017-
78Chuck HemmingsonMazda Protege ES17-
812Ken DobsonBMW 325Ci17-
911Will TurnerBMW 325i17-
109Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege ES17-
1116Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci17-
124Bob StretchBMW 325Ci17-
1314Shauna MarinusMazda Protege ES17-
1415Jon PrallAudi A417-
1520Peter CunninghamAcura Integra R17-
1626Kevin McKeeAcura Integra R17-
1718Mike Van SicklenLexus IS30017-
1831Tom StewartHonda Civic Si17-
1927Christian ElderMazda Protege ES17-
2023Mark HeinHonda Civic17-
2135Frank SelldorffBMW 325i17-
2228Mickey MillerBMW 328i17-
2319James ClayBMW 325i17-
2432Zac MazzottaAcura Integra Type R17-
2533Scott LangBMW 325i16-
2636Phil ParlatoBMW 325i16-
2734Robert MummMercury Cougar16-
2840Robert BaxterMazda Protege ES16-
2925Brad RampelbergBMW 328i16-
3037Matt RichmondBMW 328i16-
3138Gary GistMazda Protege ES16-
3213Matt PlumbBMW 32515Mechanical
3329Leo CapaldiMercury Cougar15-
3417James SofronasBMW 325i13Suspension
3537Michael FlynnSubaru Impresa11Electrical
3624Andrew MonterrubioAcura Integra R9Mechanical
3739Kyle ChuraFord SVT Focus8Fuel Pump
387Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege ES7Cooling
3921Alfred duPontBMW 3253Suspension
4022Andrew LewisAcura Integra R0Mechanical

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