2006 marked the seventeenth season for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) very successful SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series. With SPEED TV back on board as the primary sponsor, SCCA had developed a successful format that continued to attract competitors and fans.

Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring (GT) class and another for Touring Cars (TC).

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT class rules accommodate a variety of vehicles from different manufacturers. Engine displacements range from the 2.5-liter turbocharged Volvo S60R to the Dodge Viper with an 8.3-liter V10 motor. While most of the cars are rear-wheel drive, the series also permits all-wheel-drive vehicles such as the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Porsche 911 AWD TT, Subaru WRX STI and Volvo S60R. A majority of the competitors race the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup or Dodge Viper.
  • Touring Car (TC) – The Touring Cars were limited to an engine displacement of 2.8-liters. Vehicles originally equipped with turbocharged or supercharged motors are also homologated for the series. The class is split predominantly between front-wheel-drive cars from Acura, Honda, and Mazda and the rear wheel drives such as the BMW 325. Also proving very competitive is the all-wheel-drive Audi A4.

To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System is 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. The maximum amount of weight that can be removed from a vehicle is 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds can be added to a GT class car and 150-pounds to a Touring Car.

There were eleven-race weekends during the 2006 season – ten-races for the two classes. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach and the GT class was not invited to the Denver event. The opening round is in March at Sebring International Raceway, followed by a second event in Florida at Saint Petersburg. The GT category has a race at Long Beach in April and rejoins the Touring Car division for a race weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the championship takes a trip to the West Coast for an event Infineon Raceway. Competitors stay in the West for races at the new Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Teams return to the East for events at Road America and Mosport International Raceway. Next, the Touring Cars make a stop at Denver, Colorado. The penultimate round is held at Road Atlanta and the series finale takes place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah is the site of a 4.5-mile twenty-five turn road course which makes it the longest track in North America. The fifth round of the 2006 World Challenge Touring Car season was held at the facilities inaugural professional sports car racing weekend. Twenty-four cars sit on the grid waiting for the start.
Pole-sitter, Pierre Kleinubing led the race from start to finish winning the event by a margin of 1.228-seconds. Driving a RealTime prepared Acura TSX this was Kleinubing’s second consecutive victory – three weeks earlier he won at Infineon Raceway. Additionally, this was his fifth straight podium and padded his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Qualifying second was the Tri-Point Mazda 6 of Randy Pobst. At the start, pole-sitter Pierre Kleinubing opened a comfortable lead on Pobst but as the race wound down the Mazda got quicker. Pobst closed to within less than a second of Kleinubing but he could not make a move on him and took the checkered flag in second place.
Eric Curran was the third RealTime entry starting in the top four. The driver of the No. 43 Acura RSX qualified fourth. At the start, Curran slotted into third and put pressure on the Tri-Point Mazda 6 of Randy Pobst. The 100-degree temperatures and his pace took a toll on the RSX and in the closing stages he could not keep pace with Pobst. Curran would record his first podium of the season with a third.
John Prall’s efforts during the race earned him two awards. The driver of the No. 11 BMW 325Ci started twenty-fifth and advanced eleven positions on the opening laps. For this he won the B&M Shifters Holeshot Award. At the checkered flag, Prall had advanced twelve positions – finishing thirteenth. As a result, he also collected the Sunoco Hard Charger award.
Tri-Point Motorsports entered three Mazda 6s. The team drivers were Randy Pobst, Dino Crescentini and, in the No. 72 car, Jeff Altenburg. Altenburg qualified sixth and finished fourth. This was his fourth top-five of the 2006 season. Heading to the next event at Denver Altenburg was fifth in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Another team representing the Mazda brand was Tindol Motorsports. They had Mazda 6s for Charles Espenlaub, Charlie Putman and Michael Galati. And, entered in a Mazda Protégé was Mary Katharine. Espenlaub, racing the No. 97 car, scored the team’s best result in round five. He qualified and finished fifth.
The previous outing at Infineon Raceway was disappointing for the BimmerWorld team. Team principal, James Clay, was unable to start as the result of a broken axle. Recording the team’s best finish, a fifteenth, was Matt Richmond. The group decided to test in Utah and their additional efforts must off paid off as Seth Thomas qualified ninth and finished seventh. The No. 39 car driven by Paul Goldman finished fifteenth.
Representing Acura in the World Challenge series was RealTime Racing. A total of five cars were entered at Miller Motorsports Park. Eric Curran and Nick Esayian were in the RSX models while the TSXs were driven by Peter Cunningham, Pierre Kleinubing and Brandon Davis. Davis drove the No. 20 car to a sixth place finish.
The StaSIS Audi A4 of Chip Herr was sixth fastest in the opening practice session but topped the charts by the end of the day. Unfortunately, his competition found additional speed overnight and he qualified sixteenth the following day. He would improve upon his start collecting an eleventh at the checkered flag. Despite these results Herr was still fourth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Defending series champion, Peter Cunningham, qualified third in the RealTime Acura TSX. But early in the race, Cunningham and eighth place starter, Dino Crescentini made contact. They both pitted for repairs but were able to return to the race – Crescentini finished seventeenth while Cunningham was eighteenth.

11Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX13-
22Randy PobstMazda 613-
34Eric CurranAcura RSX13-
46Jeff AltenburgMazda 613-
55Charles EspenlaubMazda 613-
610Brandon DavisAcura TSX13-
79Seth ThomasBMW 325i13-
817Nick EsayianAcura RSX13-
914Robb HollandDodge SRT-413-
1015Christian MillerVolkswagen Jetta13-
1116Chip HerrAudi A413-
1218Jeff CourtneyAudi A413-
1325Jon PrallBMW 325Ci13-
1421Charlie PutmanMazda 613-
1522Paul GoldmanBMW 325i13-
1623Mary KatharineMazda Protege13-
178Dino CrescentiniMazda 614-
183Peter CunninghamAcura TSX13-
1919Freddy BakerAudi A413-
2012Brian SmithDodge SRT-411Mechanical
2120Jim OsbornBMW 325Ci11Mechanical
2211Kuno WittmerMercedes-Benz C2307Engine
233James ClayBMW 325i0Accident
2416Dan AweidaDodge SRT-40Accident
2524Branden PetersonHonda Civic Si0DNS
2626Michael GalatiMazda 60DNS

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