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 seven of the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Competitors would race around the thirteen-turn 2.258-mile road course for fifty-minutes.

Nineteen SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car drivers line up on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s front straight for round seven of the championship. The front of the grid is occupied by RealTime Racing. On the pole is the team principal, Peter Cunningham, in an Acura TSX. Beside him is his teammate in another TSX is Kuno Wittmer. In row two are the Mazda 6s of Jason Saini and Chip Herr.
The first lap through the ‘Carousel’ and the second-fastest qualifier, Kuno Wittmer, in the RealTime Racing Acura TSX, leads the field. Behind Wittmer is his teammate and the pole-sitter, Peter Cunningham. Trailing the two RealTime entries are the third-place starter, Jason Saini driving the No. 74 Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 and the fourth-fastest qualifier in a Tindol Motorsports Mazda 6, Chip Herr.
Canada’s Kuno Wittmer notched up his third victory of the season in round seven of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car event at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wittmer, who started on the outside of the front row, grabbed the top spot on lap-1 and led flag-to-flag. The win moved the driver of the No. 44 Realtime Racing Acura TSX into the championship points lead with three events remaining on the schedule.
RealTime Racing owner, Peter Cunningham and his crew had a ‘full place’ during the 2008 season. The team entered five Acuras in the Touring Car division and was competitive. To date, Cunningham had three podium finishes and was in contention for the championship. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, he was the fastest qualifier. At the start of the race, Cunningham lost the lead to Kuno Wittmer and finished second.
Mazdaspeed entered two former Mazda MX-5 Cup drivers in this year’s World Challenge series, Jason Saini and Jim Daniels. Daniels raced the No. 75 Stoptech sponsored Mazda 6. During the qualifying session, he was seventh fastest. In the race, Daniels caught the top-three and on lap-23, he passed his teammate, Saini, in turn one for the final spot on the podium. Daniels also had the honour of turning the fastest race lap.
Four-time SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge champion, Pierre Kleinubing, won the opening round at Sebring International Raceway and had a total of five podium finishes entering race seven. A poor qualifying effort saw the point’s leader gridded ninth for the start. On the opening lap, Charlie Putman driving the No. 73 Mazda 6 slid into Kleinubing at the ‘Carsousel’ and knocked him off course and out of the event.
Another competitor that didn’t qualify well was Seth Thomas. In qualifying, Thomas was fifteenth fastest in the nineteen-car field, but he rectified that situation in the race. On the opening lap of the contest, he passed eight cars and received the Racing Electronics Holeshot award. At the finish, Thomas was in the ninth position and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger honour driving the No. 38 Bimmerworld BMW 325i.
The round seven podium for the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car division at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Standing in the center for the third time this year is RealTime Racing’s, Kuno Wittmer. On the left side of the rostrum is Wittmer’s teammate and the runner-up, Peter Cunningham. Occupying the final position on the podium is the Rookie contender, Jim Daniels.

12Kuno WittmerAcura TSX27-
21Peter CunninghamAcura TSX27-
37Jim DanielsMazda 627-
43Jason SainiMazda 627-
58Michael GalatiMazda 627-
615Seth ThomasBMW 325i27-
74Chip HerrMazda 627-
813Glenn BocchinoAcura RSX27-
95Dino CrescentiniAcura TSX27-
1012Robb HollandDodge SRT-427-
1110James ClayBMW 325i27-
1216Charlie PutmanMazda 627-
1319Branden PetersonAcura TSX27-
1411Jason MartinelliBMW 325Ci26-
1514Nick EsayianBMW 325i26-
1618Jim OsbornVolkswagen Jetta TDI26-
1717Patrick LindseyMazda 68Mechanical
186Charles EspenlaubMazda 60Accident
199Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX0Accident

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