The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge series debuted in 1990. Sponsored by Escort Radar Detectors,
the championship featured two classes – World Challenge for high-performance sports car and Super Production for smaller displacement vehicles.
The classes and race formats have evolved over the years as Series Organizers attempt to attract competitors and fans.
In 2005, the World Challenge series entered its sixteenth season. The championship’s successful relationship with Speed Channel was now in its seventh year.
Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.
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 eleven-race weekends during the 2005 season – the longest in series history. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway, followed by a second event in Florida at Saint Petersburg. The series then moves north to Georgia for a race weekend at Road Atlanta. Rounds four, five and six are conducted in the Northeast with races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport and Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. In July, the championship takes a trip to the West Coast for an event Infineon Raceway. Competitors stay in the West for races at Portland International Raceway. Next, the series makes a stop at Denver, Colorado. The penultimate round is held at Mosport International Raceway and the series finale takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Round one of the 2005 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. Thirty-one Touring Car drivers would compete in a fifty-minute race around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.
|Thirty-one World Challenge Touring Car driver’s line-up on Sebring International’s front straight for round one of the 2005 championship. Thursday’s qualifying session was cancelled as the result of heavy rains. The start was determined by Wednesday’s practice times. At the front of the field are the Tri-Point Motorsports’ Mazda 6s. On the pole, is the No. 72 Mazda of Jeff Altenburg and beside him is his teammate, Randy Pobst.|
|RealTime Racing’s team principal, Peter Cunningham, was fourth fastest during Wednesday’s practice session. He drove the No. 42 Acura TSX – this was this first time since 2002, when Cunningham won the championship, that he raced an Acura in the Touring class. Cunningham avoided the contact at the start of the race and conserved his tires. His strategy paid off and he captured his twenty-ninth World Challenge Touring Car victory.|
|Bill Auberlen driving the Turner Motorsport prepared BMW 325i was the defending race winner – in fact, Auberlen was also victorious in 2003. He was gridded third for the start of the 18-lap contest. Throughout the event, Auberlen exchanged first place with Pierre Kleinubing and Randy Pobst – he led a total of ten laps. Auberlen was leading on the final circuit but, he was passed by Peter Cunningham and finished second.|
|With Thursday’s qualifying session washed out and the starting order set by Wednesday’s practice times, Jeff Altenburg earned the pole position. Altenburg, who ended 2004 with a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, drove the No. 72 Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6. At the start of the race, he was tagged by the Acura TSX of Pierre Kleinubing and went off-course. Altenburg recovered and moved up the order to finish third.|
|Three-time World Challenge Touring Car champion, Pierre Kleinubing, returned for another season with RealTime Racing. As usual, he was driving the familiar No. 42 Acura TSX. Kleinubing gridded in the fifth spot but an excellent start allowed him to jump to the front of the field. Unfortunately, he had contact with the pole-sitter, Jeff Altenburg and knock him off the track. Kleinubing led a couple of laps but finished in twenty-fourth place.|
|The procedure used by World Challenge Officials to determine the grid resulted in Randy Pobst starting on the outside of the front row next to his teammate, Jeff Altenburg. Pobst was a regular in the Grand Touring category and won the 2003 championship but he had not competed in the Touring Car class since 1997. Piloting the No. 73 Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6 and led most of the event before retiring on lap-14.|
|To date, Hugh Stewart had raced a Volkswagen Jetta and BMW 325 in the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car division. This season, he appeared at Sebring International Raceway with a new Dodge SRT-4. Stewart started at the back of the grid in the thirtieth position. During the race, he maneuvered his way through the field and advanced fourteen-positions to receive the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.|
|In 2005, Chip Herr joined Stasis Engineering racing an Audi A4. He was the twentieth quickest in practice and, therefore, found himself gridded in the same position for the start of the race. Herr had a fantastic opening lap and passed ten of his competitors. Unfortunately, he only completed 13 of the 18-laps and was classified in the twenty-sixth position. However, his performance on the first lap earned him the B&M Hole Shot Award.|
|The SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium for round one of the 2005 season at Sebring International Raceway. In the center and winning his twenty-ninth Touring Car race is RealTime Racing’s, Peter Cunningham. Standing to Cunningham’s left is last year’s race winner and this season’s runner-up, Bill Auberlen. Completing the rostrum is the pole-sitter, Jeff Altenburg, from Tri-Point Motorsports.|
|1||4||Peter Cunningham||Acura TSX||18||-|
|2||3||Bill Auberlen||BMW 325i||18||-|
|3||9||Jeff Altenburg||Mazda 6||18||-|
|4||1||Nic Jonsson||BMW 325Ci||18||-|
|5||12||James Clay||BMW 325i||18||-|
|6||14||Memo Gidley||Ford Focus||18||-|
|7||11||Eric Curran||Acura RSX||18||-|
|8||7||Bob Stretch||BMW 325Ci||18||-|
|9||13||Matt Richmond||BMW 325i||18||-|
|10||15||Seth Thomas||BMW 325i||18||-|
|11||8||Brandon Davis||Acura TSX||18||-|
|12||19||Nick Esayian||Acura RSX||18||-|
|13||21||Ryan Pilla||Mazda Protege ES||18||-|
|14||24||Jim Osborn||BMW 325Ci||18||-|
|15||26||Michael Flynn||Subaru WRX||18||-|
|16||30||Hugh Stewart||Dodge SRT-4||18||-|
|17||22||Seth Neiman||BMW 325Ci||18||-|
|18||29||Charlie Putman||Mazda Protege||18||-|
|19||27||Jeff Courtney||BMW 325i||18||-|
|20||28||Phil Parlato||BMW 325i||18||-|
|21||16||Peter Lockhart||Mercedes C230||17||-|
|22||31||Billy Revis||BMW 325||17||-|
|23||18||Jason Martinelli||BMW 325Ci||17||-|
|24||5||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura TSX||17||-|
|25||2||Randy Pobst||Mazda 6||14||Mechanical|
|26||20||Chip Herr||Audi A4||13||-|
|27||25||Chip Van Vurst||Mercedes C230||9||Chassis|
|28||23||Leo Capaldi||Ford Focus||6||-|
|29||17||Rick Maki||Audi A4||2||Accident|
|30||6||Dino Crescentini||Mazda 6||1||Mechanical|
|31||10||Chris Tindol||Mazda Protege||0||Mechanical|
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