In 2004, the World Challenge series entered its fifteenth season. For the sixth consecutive year, Speed Channel was the primary sponsor. As evidenced by the growth of the series, the Sports Car Club of America 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 cars 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 nine-race weekends during the 2004 season with a double-header events for each class. Touring Cars would race Saturday and Sunday at Infineon Raceway and the Grand Touring competitors would have a similar format at Mosport International Raceway. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway, Florida, followed by a two-month break before teams travelled to Lime Rock Park. The third race weekend of the year was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the teams trekked west for races at Infineon. Competitors stayed on the west coast for races at Portland International Raceway. Next, the championship made its only Canadian stop at Mosport. Returning south of the border, the first stop was Road America. The penultimate round was held at Road Atlanta and the series finale took place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Rounds three of the 2004 Speed World Challenge Touring Car season took place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Thirty-six cars competed in a fifty-minute race around Mid-Ohio’s 2.258-mile thirteen-turn road course.

The start of round three for the Speed World Challenge Touring Car competitors at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Leading the field into the ‘Esses’ is the second-fastest qualifier, Nic Jonsson driving Techmark Corporation BMW 325Ci. Behind Jonsson is the pole-sitter, Matt Plumb, in a RealTime Racing Acura TSX. Chasing Plumb is the current points leader, Bill Auberlen, the Nissan of Peter Cunningham and twenty-eight other drivers.
Sophomore, Matt Plumb drove a BMW last season but this year he joined the RealTime Racing team piloting an Acura TSX. At Mid-Ohio, he qualified on the Air Force Reserve pole. Unfortunately, Plumb did not win the drag race to the first turn and dropped in behind Nic Jonsson. Plumb chased Jonsson until lap-15 when Jonsson was slowed by a mechanical issue. He grabbed the lead and scored his first series victory.
In qualifying at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Nic Jonsson was second quickest. The driver of the Techmark Corporation BMW 325Ci got a great jump at the start of the race and led the field for fifteen laps. On the sixteenth circuit, the BMW had an electrical glitch, which caused the engine to cut-out for a couple of seconds and allowed the pole-sitter, Matt Plumb, to grab first place. Jonsson held on for a runner-up finish.
It didn’t take long for the RealTime Racing team to sort out Peter Cunningham’s new Nissan Sentra SE-R. The Nissan had some teething problems in the season opener, but Cunningham was able to finish third in race two. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, he qualified third but at the start of the race, Cunningham lost a position to Bill Auberlen. Using lapped traffic, Cunningham passed Auberlen on lap-22 for a third-place finish.
The current point’s leader, Bill Auberlen, was fourth quickest in the qualifying session. Auberlen passed the Nissan Sentra SE-R of the third-place starter, Peter Cunningham, early in the contest. Cunningham was able to capitalize on lapped traffic and slipped by the Turner Motorsport BMW for third. Auberlen chased Cunningham but had to settle for a fourth-place finish. But, more important, his lead in the title chase was still intact.
The veteran sports car driver, Peter Schwartzott, debuted his new Acura RSX at Mid-Ohio. The Fine Arts professor from Buffalo had four World Challenge victories on his racing resume. Issues with the Acura prevented, Schwartzott from recording a qualifying time. He was gridded last - thirty-sixth position. During the race, Schwartzott moved through the field and finished eighteenth, which earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
It was the eighth World Challenge season for the three-time Touring Car champion, Pierre Kleinubing. As in the previous years, Kleinubing was back with RealTime Racing. In 2004, the team replaced the Acura RSX-S with a new TSX. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Kleinubing was gridded fifth for the start of the fifty-minute event. After an uneventful event, he crossed the finished line in fifth place.
Fred Pignataro drove the No. 60 BMW 328is with backing from Habberstad BMW. Pignataro was in his ninth season of World Challenge competition but each year only participated in a limited number of races. His best season was 1997 when he had four top-ten finishes. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Pignataro earned the B&M Hole Short Award for improving six positions on the first lap. Unfortunately, he retired on lap-2.
The top-three finishers, for round three of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car category, field questions in the Mid-Ohio media center. In the center is Realtime Racing’s Matt Plumb. Not only did Plumb score his first series victory but it was also the first pole and win for the new Acura TSX. On the right is the runner-up, Nic Jonsson and on the opposite side is third-place finisher, Peter Cunningham.

11Matt PlumbAcura TSX27-
22Nic JonssonBMW 325Ci27-
33Peter CunninghamNissan Sentra SE-R27-
44Bill AuberlenBMW 325i27-
55Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX27-
67Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege ES27-
76Shauna MarinusMazda Protege ES27-
89Justin MarksBMW 325i27-
911Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege ES27-
108James SofronasBMW 325Ci27-
1113Matt RichmondBMW 325i27-
1214James ClayBMW 325i27-
1318Chip HerrMazda Protege ES27-
1417Scott FredricksenMazda Protege ES27-
1521Ryan PillaMazda Protege27-
1612Dino CrescentiniBMW 325i27-
1715Scott GalabaBMW 325Ci27-
1836Peter SchwartzottAcura RSX26-
1924Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci26-
2028Nick LeveroneBMW 328i26-
2028Seth NeimanBMW 325Ci26-
2130Seth ThomasBMW 325i26-
2320Nick EsayianAcura RSX26-
2431Kird AzemarBMW 32526-
2526Leo CapaldiFord Focus25-
2627Brandon PetersonHonda Civic Si24-
2734A.J. AshleyBMW 32522Fuel
2825Scott BradleyMazda Protege ES15Engine
2910Bob StretchBMW 325Ci12Fuel
3016Victor GonzalezAcura RSX7Mechanical
3122Fred PignataroBMW 328is6Mechanical
3229Hugh StewartBMW 3252Mechanical
3323Scott PoirierMercedes C2300Did Not Start
3432Peter LockhartMercedes C2300Did Not Start
3533Mark GermanMazda 6260Did Not Start
3635Phil ParlatoBMW 325i0Did Not Start

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