Last season, the Grand-Am Cup division was renamed the KONI Challenge Series after KONI shock absorbers signed a three-year contract to act as the championship’s title sponsor. The agreement between Grand-Am and KONI called for the company to offer the richest purse in the series history - $100,000 per event. The winning Grand Sport team would earn $5,000, but the prize fund doubled to $10,000 if the car was equipped with KONI shock absorbers. Street Tuner competitors were competing for a similar payout - $3,750 to the winner and $7,500 if the vehicle is fitted with KONIs.

Series cars are not that much different than their road-going counterparts. Modifications are mandated mainly for safety – roll cages, window nets, etc. They also use spec DOT-approved tires produced by Hoosier. Based on performance potential, the cars are divided into one of two groups:

  • Grand Sport (GS): The quicker of the two classes - the group features the larger displacement engines as well as smaller four-cylinder motors with forced induction systems. The power-plants produce between 350 and 405-horsepower. Minimum weights range between 2,730 – 3,250-pounds, which is dependent on the motor configuration and displacement. This class includes cars such as the BMW M3, Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang and Porsche 997.
  • Street Tuner (ST): The smaller displacement cars compete in this group in which engines typically produce between 170 and 240-horsepower. Vehicle’s weights vary from 2,200 – 2,925-pounds. The top speed for a car built to the Street Tuner regulations is approximately 135-mph. Popular makes found in this category are the Acura RSX, Acura TSX, Mazda RX-8, Mazda MX-5, Honda Accord, BMW 330i, Subaru Legacy, Chevrolet Cobalt and Mini Cooper S.

The 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge season consisted of eleven race weekends. Except for Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Iowa Speedway and Miller Motorsports Park, all venues would have separate races for the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes. This year’s schedule started in January at Daytona International Speedway. The next event on the calendar wasn’t until April at Virginia International Raceway. A month later, the series visited Lime Rock Park. In June, the teams traveled north of the border to compete at Mosport International Raceway. After Mosport, race weekends took place at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Street Tuner only), Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park (Grand Sport only). In early August, the series made a stop at Iowa Speedway. A week later, teams made their second visit to Canada, where the action would take place on the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. The penultimate round was held at Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park, with the finale being conducted at Virginia International Raceway.

As was tradition, the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series made their annual trek to Watkins Glen International in June. Over seventy-teams would compete on the eleven-turn 3.337-mile road course in The Glen 200.

Starting on the pole for round four of the 2008 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Grand Sport season is Don Salama. Salama and his co-driver, Brian Ortiz, would pilot the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3. Sharing the front row with Salama is the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang qualified by Joe Foster. Foster missed capturing the top spot by 0.286-seconds. He would share the Mustang with Canadian Scott Maxwell.
Tim Traver was paired with Craig Stanton in the opening round at Daytona and the pair came away with a win. At Watkins Glen International, Traver co-drove the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 997 with David Murry. Traver qualified the Porsche and started in the twelfth position. After the driver change, Murry moved into the lead. The team gambled and did not make a second stop for fuel, which paid off with a victory.
Last year’s Street Tuner champions, Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood left Turner Motorsport and joined Compass360 Racing in 2008. The pair were looking to redeem themselves at Watkins Glen International after a disastrous outing at Mid-Ohio. Burrows qualified the No. 74 Acura TSX and was third in class. After changing drivers, Hopwood battled Tom Long for the lead and grabbed first place and the win.
Turner Motorsport’s, Don Salama inherited the pole-position when the Porsche 997 of Dan DiLeo failed the post-qualifying technical inspection. Salma led the first sixteen laps of the race before handing the No. 97 BMW M3 over to his co-driver, Brian Ortiz. Ortiz’s time behind the wheel ended on lap-25 when he was involved in a multi-car accident. They were classified with a twenty-ninth-place finish in the Grand Sport class.
For the Street Tuner points leaders, Jamie Holtom and Eric Curran, round five at Watkins Glen International was a disaster. Driving the No. 01 Georgian Bay Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Holtom recorded the thirty-ninth fastest time and start eight in class. Unfortunately, the team’s race ended on lap-26 and they finished thirty-seventh in class. More importantly, the duo was no longer first in the title chase.
The round five Street Tuner grid for the KONI Challenge Series at Watkins Glen International. On the pole is APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI, qualified by Aaron Povoledo. Next to Pololedo is Derek Whitis, who was sharing the No. 145 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5 with Jim Daniels. Whitis was 0.690-seconds slower than Povoledo. In the second row is the defending champion, Adam Burrows and Mark White.
Bill Fenton Motorsports was in the habit of rotating their driver line-up. At Watkins Glen, the No. 29 Honda Civic Si was raced by Bob Endicott and Bob Beede. This was Endicott’s first event of the season with the team and Beede’s fourth. In qualifying, Beede was the tenth fastest in Street Tuner. During the race, he made progress before giving the car to Endicott. Endicott chased down the leaders and finished second in class.
As second Turner Motorsport BMW M3 was driven by Matthew Alhadeff and sports car racing veteran, Bill Auberlen. Alhadeff started The Glen 200 from the seventeenth grid position. Auberlen was in the car for the final stint and moved up the race order as teams made their second stop for fuel. The Turner Motorsport team decided against another stop. The strategy to conserve fuel paid off and they finished second.
At Watkins Glen International, APR Motorsport entered three Volkswagen GTI. The cars were fast but plagued with reliability issues – the team’s best result to date was a ninth-place at Mosport. Their fastest car in qualifying was the No. 171 of Aaron Povoledo, who captured the Street Tuner pole. But Povoledo and his co-driver, Ian Baas were the first APR Volkswagen to retire from the race – completing twenty-five-laps.
The No. 146 Freedom Autosports Mazda MX-5 was not as fast as their teammates but delivered the results in the race. Co-driving the MX-5 was Rhett O’Doski and Tom Long. O’Doski started twenty-eight in the Street Tuner category. Progress during the race saw the car leading late in the event. Unfortunately, Long could not hold off challenges from Trevor Hopwood and Bob Endicott and finished third.
The defending KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport champions, Jeff Segal and Jep Thornton, returned for another season with Automatic Racing. They led the point standings heading into Watkins Glen International. Thornton, who start the race qualified the No. 09 BMW M3 third fastest. After a good stint, he passed the car over to Segal. He would finish in the third spot and extend their championship lead.
To give their drivers additional track time, the C-Max / Unitech Racing team entered two Porsche 997 for the practice session. During qualifying and the race, they chose to use the No. 25 Porsche. Sharing the car were David Riddle and Kris Wilson. Based on his qualifying time, Riddle was gridded fifteenth for the start of The Glen 200. Wilson brought the Porsche home and received the checkered flag in the twentieth place.

1GSTraver / MurryPorsche 997BGB Motorsports55
2GSAuberlen / AlhadeffBMW M3Turner Motorsport55
3GSThornton / SegalBMW M3Automatic Racing55
4GSCanney / PlumbFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing55
5GSMason / LallyFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing55
6GSHauck / ZachariasPorsche 997Wright Motorsports55
7GSPumpelly / EndePorsche 997The Racer's Group55
8GSCameron / FinlayBMW M3Automatic Racing55
9GSSeafuse / GueFord Mustang GTJBS Motorsports55
10GSJonsson / LambBMW M3Kinetic Motorsports55
11GSFoster / MaxwellFord Mustang GTHyper Sport55
12GSRoush / MartinFord Mustang GTRehagen Racing55
13GSMiller / StantonPorsche 997BGB Motorsports55
14GSSnyder / AckleyFord Mustang GTCMA Motorsports55
15GSJohnson / MilnerBMW Z4Motorsport Technology Group55
16STWalker / SmithBMW M3Kinetic Motorsports55
17GSDavis / LawPorsche 997Motorsport Technology Group55
18GSConstantine / BorkowskiBMW M3Playboy Racing55
19GSGrigsby / HeathPorsche 997Cardisport Racing55
20GSRiddle / WilsonPorsche 997BGB Motorsports55
21GSAuriemma / MayesPorsche 997Motorsport Technology Group55
22GSRossi / AbelloPorsche 997Ranger Sports Racing55
23STBurrows / HopwoodAcura TSXCompass360 Racing55
24STBeede / EndicottHonda Civic SiBill Fenton Motorsports55
25STLong / O'DoskiMazda MX-5Freedom Autosports55
26STGrahovec / KleinubingBMW Z4Classic BMW55
27GSSkavnes / HemmingstonSubaru LegacyICY/Phoenix Racing55
28STRivera / OttMazda RX-8Brass Mitchell Racing55
29STLamb / MaiaBMW Z4Classic BMW55
30STMcCalmont / SpencerChevrolet CobaltGeorgian Bay Motorsports55
31STBell / MirzayanBMW 330iTurner Motorsport55
32STRosenblum / AquilanteSubaru LegacyICY/Phoenix Racing55
33STWittmer / CunninghamAcura TSXi-MOTO Racing55
34STFenton / ThileniusHonda Civic SiBill Fenton Motorsports55
35STPayne / MuytjensBMW 330iFountain Motorsports55
36STFonte / StoddardBMW 330iFountain Motorsports55
37STYork / RadisicAcura TSXCompass360 Racing55
38STDavis / SmithBMW 330iKinetic Motorsports55
39STSchmidt / DanyliwChevrolet CobaltGS Motorsports55
40STSmalley / TrinklerMini Cooper SRSR Motorsports55
41STCabrera / MartinAcura RSX-SKiton Racing55
42STCongleton / JohnsonMini Cooper SRSR Motorsports55
43STMcHaffie / LeveroneMazda MX-5Flat Out Racing55
44STRiley / RileyMazda RX-8Riley Racing55
45STMiller / BuissonAcura RSX-SCompass360 Racing55
46STArnold / SchultzBMW 330iV-Pack Motorsport55
47GSJenkins / BodenBMW M3Playboy Racing54
48GSSchroeder / LudwigPorsche 997The Racer's Group54
49GSCarroll / EversleyPorsche 997Marcus Motorsports54
50STSchmitt / LewisHonda AccordHART54
51STRivera / RobinsonMazda RX-8Brass Mitchell Racing54
52STMetzger / BoschBMW 330iFountain Motorsports54
53GSMaher / BiscevicNissan 350ZNo Hot Wire Racing54
54STPritiko / BoyerChevrolet CobaltPredator Auto Sport54
55GSWellon / EllisPorsche 997Ranger Sports Racing53
56STWittmer / BocchinoAcura TSXi-MOTO Racing49
57GSNastasi / EmpringhamBMW M3Blackforest Motorsport46
58STGiovanis / MoorconesBMW 330iT Giovanis Motorsport46
59STLeroux / LerouxAcura TSXLRT Racing39
60STWilden / WillardAcura TSXCompass360 Racing36
61STHunt / SweeneyVolkswagen GTIAPR Motorsport35
62STPobst / WhiteVolkswagen GTIAPR Motorsport34
63STMetzger / ReadeDodge SRT-4SDS Performance Racing29
64STTraver / GardnerScion tCBGB Motorsports26
65STHoltom / CurranChevrolet CobaltGeorgian Bay Motorsports26
66STBaas / PovoledoVolkswagen GTIAPR Motorsport25
67STSmalley / Trinkler / ZachariasMini Cooper SRSR Motorsports25
68GSSalama / OrtizBMW M3Turner Motorsport25
69GSEspenlaub / PutmanBMW M3Automatic Racing12
70GSSellers / DiLeoPorsche 997Maxwell Paper Racing11
71STJonathan RashleighChevrolet CobaltGS Motorsports8
72STWhitis / DanielsMazda MX-5Freedom Autosports5
73STSahlen / NonnamakerMazda RX-8Team Sahlen1

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