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.

Round seven of the 2004 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at Mosport International Raceway. Twenty-nine Touring Car drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.

The Touring Car field is lined up for the start of round seven at Mosport International Raceway. On the pole, for the first time, this season is Peter Cunningham driving the No. 4 NISMO sponsored Nissan Sentra SE-R. Sharing the front row with Cunningham is the series three-time champion, Pierre Kleinubing, in an Acura TSX with support from A-SPEC and RealTime Racing. The second row is occupied by James Clay and Matt Plumb.
Rookie, Matt Plumb scored his second World Challenge Touring Car victory at Mosport International Raceway. Plumb qualified fourth quickest in the RealTime Racing prepared Acura TSX. He was able to escape the opening lap melee and chased the BMW of James Sofronas. On lap-26 of 28, the leader, Sofronas, made an error exiting Moss corner which allowed Plumb to slip past and collect the win.
Finishing an amazing second was Charles Espenlaub. Espenlaub was driving the No. 97 Mazda Protégé ES started twenty-eighth in the twenty-nine-car field. He avoided the corner one incident and advanced eighteen positions on lap-1, which earned him the B&M Holeshot Award. Espenlaub was also recognized for passing twenty cars during the contest (Sunoco Hard Charger Award) and the fastest race lap ( Hot Lap).
The point’s leader, Bill Auberlen, also benefitted from the starting line accident. In the closing stages of the contest, he was in fourth place after starting ninth. On lap-26, the race leader, James Sofronas, made an error that allowed Matt Plumb, Charles Espenlaub and Auberlen to gain a position. He held on to third place and increased his lead in the championship to sixteen-markers over Nic Jonsson.
Peter Cunningham won his first Touring Car pole position of the season in the NISMO / RealTime Racing Nissan Sentra SE-R. Unfortunately, it ‘went downhill’ during the race. At the start, the third-fastest qualifier, James Clay, tried to pass Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing. There was contact between the three. Cunningham was able to return to the pits for repairs but finished two laps behind the leaders in twenty-third place.
It appeared that World Challenge veteran, James Sofronas, was going to win his first series race. Sofronas qualified seventh fastest driving the Tecmark Corporation BMW 325Ci and took advantage of the opening lap carnage to grab the lead. He held on to the top spot until lap-26 when a mistake caused him to be ‘freight trained’ by Matt Plumb, Charles Espenlaub and Bill Auberlen. Sofronas would finish fourth.
Pierre Kleinubing’s chances of winning a fourth Touring Car championship received a significant setback at Mosport International Raceway. After qualifying, Kleinubing had reason to be confident as his RealTime Racing Acura TSX would start second. Unfortunately, contact between himself and the Nissan of Peter Cunningham and James Clay eliminated him from the race. Kleinubing did not make it beyond the first turn.
Nic Jonsson was feeling the effects of his early-season success. The weight equalization rule (R.E.W.A.R.D.S.) meant that his BMW 325Ci was carrying an extra 250-pounds of ballast. Jonsson was gridded sixth. He benefitted very little from the faster qualifiers who were eliminated on the opening lap. At the checkered flag, Jonsson had only improved one position but maintained his second place in the title chase.
The round seven podium for the Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium at Mosport International Raceway. On the left is the runner-up, Charles Espenlaub, who delivered his best series result to date. Standing on the right side is the defending series champion and current point’s leader, Bill Auberlen. Between these two is the winner, Matt Plumb. This was Plumb’s second win of 2004.

14Matt PlumbAcura TSX28-
228Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege ES28-
39Bill AuberlenBMW 325i28-
47James SofronasBMW 325Ci28-
56Nic JonssonBMW 325Ci28-
616Matt RichmondBMW 325i28-
78Justin MarksBMW 325i28-
815Shauna MarinusMazda Protege ES28-
913Chip HerrMazda Protege ES28-
1012Bob StretchBMW 325Ci28-
1111Ken MurilloBMW 325Ci28-
1217Brandon DavisAcura RSX28-
1319Fred PignataroBMW 328is28-
1420Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci28-
1518Seth NeimanBMW 325Ci28-
1624Nick EsayianAcura RSX28-
1722Phil ParlatoBMW 325i28-
1826Hugh StewartBMW 32528-
1925Peter SchwartzottAcura RSX27-
2029Scott BradleyMazda Protege ES27-
2127Kird AzemarBMW 32527-
2214Dino CrescentiniBMW 325i27-
231Peter CunninghamNissan Sentra SE-R25-
2410Memo GidleyFord Focus24Drive Shaft
2523Jocelyn HebertAcura Integra Type R18Mechanical
2621Leo CapaldiFord Focus17Mechanical
275Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege ES2Accident
283James ClayBMW 325i0Accident
292Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX0Accident
--Nick MajorsNissan Sentra SE-R0Withdrawn
--Seth ThomasBMW 325i0Withdrawn
--Scott FredricksenMazda Protege ES0Withdrawn

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