In 2008, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) popular World Challenge series for Touring and Grand Touring cars entered its 19th-season. With continued sponsorship from SPEED TV, the championship attracted a loyal following of race fans. Unfortunately, the series was not immune to the 2008 recession and the grid sizes dropped in both divisions.

Race weekends included two standing start 50-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for Touring Cars.

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The Grand Touring class rules accommodate a broad range of vehicles from different manufacturers. Engine displacements ranged from a 2.5-liter turbocharged to an 8.3-liter V10 motor. While rear-wheel-drive cars are the most popular cars, the series also permits all-wheel-drive machines. Many of the competitors race the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup or Dodge Viper.

  • Touring Car (TC) – The Touring Cars are 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 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. The maximum amount of weight that can be removed from a car 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 ten-race weekends during the 2008 season. The series dropped Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Toronto and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from the calendar. Added were four new venues, Virginia International Raceway, Detroit, Road America and Thunderbolt Raceway. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach, but there was a standalone event for them at Virginia International Raceway and a doubleheader at Lime Rock Park. As in 2007, the opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida, but the season ended in early October at Road Atlanta.

Round one of the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championship, was contested at Sebring International Raceway as part of the 12-Hours of Sebring weekend. Drivers were scheduled to compete on the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course for fifty-minutes. Rain during the race resulted in three full course caution periods forcing series officials to checker flag the contest after twelve laps.

Under threatening skies, twenty-six Grand Touring Car competitors line up on the grid at Sebring International Raceway for round one of the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championship. On the pole is Brandon Davis driving the ACS/Sun Microsystems sponsored Ford Mustang Cobra. Sharing the front row with Davis is the former series champion, Randy Post in the K-Pax Racing Porsche 911 GT3.
Defending Grand Touring champion Randy Pobst took advantage of the contest’s first caution period and a wet track to secure the victory in round one. Pobst started from the outside of the front row but on a damp surface, he moved into the lead on the first lap. An incident early in the contest resulted in a caution period. Pobst used the opportunity to pit for rain tires. Nine circuits later, he was back out front for the win.
Andy Pilgrim won the 2005 World Challenge Grand Touring championship driving a Cadillac but after four years of participation, General Motors withdrew from the series. The following year, Pilgrim joined a private team, McCann Racing which entered a pair of Cadillac CTS-Vs for him and team owner, Michael McCann. He was fourth quickest in qualifying and survived the wet conditions to capture the runner-up position.
Five-time World Challenge champion, Michael Galati captured titles in both the Grand Touring and Touring Car categories. In 2007, Galati was hired by K-Pax racing to drive one their Porsche 911 GT3s – the other was driven by Randy Pobst. In the opening round at Sebring International Raceway, he started seventh. During the soggy contest, Galati recorded the fastest race to capture the final spot on the podium.
After spending several years competing in the Touring Car category with RealTime Racing, Brandon Davis moved to the Grand Touring class joining his father’s team, ACS/Sun Microsystems team. Davis drove the No. 10 Ford Mustang Cobra and in his first full season in the new class, he qualified on the pole. During the wet race, Davis lost positions to Randy Pobst, Andy Pilgrim and Michael Galati to finish fourth.
The driver of the No. 99 of the Kenda/MPI Coin TJM Wealth Management sponsored Dodge Viper was Jeff Courtney. Courtney recorded the seventeenth quickest time during the qualifying session. In the race, he was one of a handful of drivers that benefitted from the unpleasant conditions. From his seventeenth starting position on the grid, Courtney moved to a fifth-place finish.
World Challenge veteran, Tony Gaples returned for another season in the Kleinschmidt Inc/Blackdog Racing Chevrolet Corvette. At the conclusion of the qualifying session, Gaples was twenty-fifth quickest in the field of twenty-eight competitors. The adverse conditions must have agreed with him because, in twelve laps, he moved up the race order to finish sixth. For improving nineteen places, Gaples won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
Eric Curran drove the Whelen Motorsport Chevrolet Corvette. In 2007, Curran won four events - his first being the opening round at Sebring. Unfortunately, the defending race winner’s luck was all bad this year. Curran qualified eighth quickest but early in the race, he went straight off in turn one. He made heavy contact which resulted in a lengthy caution period and forced officials to shorten the race.
The No. 9 Lala Racing Dodge Viper was driven by the rookie, Gunter Schaldach. Schaldach made his series debut in the 2007 finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where he finished twenty-second. Schaldach qualified and finished twenty-second in the season’s first event at Sebring. His performance early in the contest earned him the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for advancing nine places on the first lap.

12Randy PobstPorsche 911 GT3K-PAX Racing12
24Andy PilgrimCadillac CTS-VRemington Shaving12
37Michael GalatiPorsche 911 GT3K-PAX Racing12
41Brandon DavisFord Mustang CobraACS/Sun Microsystems12
517Jeff CourtneyDodge ViperKENDA Tire12
625Tony GaplesChevrolet CorvetteKleinschmidt Inc./Blackdog Racing12
75Mike DavisFord Mustang CobraACS/Sun Microsystems12
810Jason DaskalosDodge ViperCoastal Pet Products12
911James SofronasPorsche 911 GT3Global Motorsports Group12
1024Paul BrownPorsche 911 GT3K&N Filters/Tiger Racing12
1121Eric OlberzPorsche 911 GT3911 Design12
123Michael McCannCadillac CTS-VRemington Shaving12
136Jeff AltenburgDodge ViperMotorsports Gallery12
1423John BourassaPorsche 911 TurboHillview Vineyards12
159Rich MarzialeDodge ViperAll-Cut Concrete Cutting12
1618Sonny WhelenChevrolet CorvetteWhelen Motorsports12
1720Phillip MartienPorsche 911 GT3At Speed Motorsports12
1812Tommy ArcherDodge ViperWoodhouse Performance/Kicker12
1915Dino CrescentiniPorsche 911 GT3Centric Parts/Stoptech12
2027Sean AllenPorsche 911 GT3GMG/BMC Group12
2119Lee SaundersDodge ViperMid-Florida Racing12
2222Gunter SchaldachDodge ViperLala Motorsports10
2316Tim McKenziePorsche 911 GT3TR Racing10
2414Brian KubinskiChevrolet CorvetteDiamond Construction/CRP8
2513Tomy DrissiChevrolet CorvetteDr Suess' Horton Hears A Who5
268Eric CurranChevrolet CorvetteWhelen Motorsports1
2726Robb HollandPorsche 911 GT3DRC MotorsportsDid Not Start
2828Joey ScaralloPontiac GTOGroup A WheelsDid Not Start

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