2009 was a milestone year for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Pro Racing Speed World Challenge series. The championship was now in its 20th consecutive season. The SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans. But the recession of 2008 was impacting car counts.

To add some excitement to qualifying, the series organizers introduced the Fast Five Coin Toss. A World Challenge official flipped a coin and the fastest qualifier would have to call, heads or tails. If they guessed correctly, the top five would line-up as they qualified. If not, the starting order would be inverted for the five quickest drivers.

Most race weekends included two standing start races with a time limit of 50-minutes. One event for the Grand Touring (GT) class and another for the Touring Cars (TC).

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT class rules accommodated a broad range of vehicles from different manufacturers. Engine displacements ranged from the 2.5-liter turbocharged Volvo S60 to the Dodge Viper with an 8.3-liter V10 motor. While most of the cars were rear-wheel drive, the series also permitted all-wheel-drive. A majority of the competitors raced a Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 GT3 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 were also homologated for the series. The class was split predominantly between front-wheel-drive cars from Acura, Honda, and Mazda and the rear wheel drives such as the BMW 328i.

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 added or removed ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver. The maximum amount of weight that could be removed from a vehicle was 100-pounds. And, no more than 200-pounds could be added to a GT class car and 150-pounds to a Touring Car.

During the 2009 season, there were ten-races for each category. The Touring cars did not compete at Long Beach. However, they raced twice at Mosport Park. As in 2008, the opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida and the championship ended in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California.

In 2009, the SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Championship made their first visit to the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. Round six would be conducted on the 19-turn 3.531-mile road course.

Nineteen Grand Touring drivers are gridded for round six of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Championship at the Autobahn. On the pole, for the first time, this season is James Sofronas in the Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Starting beside Sofronas is the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 driven by the two-time defending series champion, Randy Pobst. In the second row are Tony Rivera and Andy Pilgrim.
Randy Pobst was unable to qualify or start the opening round at Sebring. To date, his best result was a runner-up finish in New Jersey. In qualifying at Autobahn, Pobst was second fastest driving the No. 1 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. After the lights went out for the start, he dropped to third, but an aggressive pass gave him first place. He lost the top spot to Tony Rivera for a lap but re-took the lead and captured the win.
The championship point’s leader, Brandon Davis, was sixth fastest in the qualifying session. Early in the race. Davis was mired mid-pack until a lap-12 restart. As the field headed into turn one, the second-place driver, Tony Rivera, spun. While competitors attempted to avoid Rivera, Davis took to the grass and moved into third place. A late-race pass on Brian Kubinski gave him a runner-up finish and increased his points gap.
Capturing his first SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Championship podium finish was Illinois resident and third-place finisher, Brian Kubinski. Driving the No. 12 Trim-Tex Drywall Products sponsored Chevrolet Corvette, he qualified in twelfth spot. On the lap-12 restart, Kubinski moved from seventh to second and was awarded the Autoweek Move of the Race. He would lose second place to Brandon Davis.
Title contender, James Sofronas, won the second race of the season at Long Beach and was in contention for the title. He started on the pole at the Autobahn Country Club. Sofronas moved the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 into first place before corner one, but he entered turn two too hot and lost a couple of places. In the confusion, on the lap-12 restart, he lost more positions and finished sixth.
An exciting edition to round six at the Autobahn Country Club was the debut of a Mercedes-Benz 722 GT. The Mercedes is powered by a 332-cu.in. supercharged aluminum V8 motor. This package produces 550-horsepower and 550-lbs.-ft. of torque. The base weight is 3350-lbs with a 50/50 distribution between front and rear. The car was driven by Spencer Pumpelly, who qualified fourteenth but retired on lap-15.
The round one winner, Tony Rivera, started race six at the Autobahn Country Club in third place. The driver of the No. 97 Tax Master / Brass Monkey sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 moved into the lead on lap-8 but lost the spot to the eventual winner, Randy Posbst. On a lap-9 restart, he spun and lost several places. He pitted under the caution period and came back from thirteenth to finish in the fifth position.
The Sunoco Hard Charger award went to the rookie entrant, Nick Mancuso. The honour is given to the driver that passes the most competitors during the event. The driver of the No. 007 Lake Forest Sportcars Aston Martin DB9 recorded the seventeenth fastest time during the qualifying session. In the race, Mancuso improved his on starting position by nine places and finished ninth.
The round six podium for the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Grand Touring class at the Autobahn Country Club. In the center is the winner and two-time defending series champion, Randy Posbst. Pobst’s victory kept a 2009 streak alive - six different winners in as many races. Standing on the right side of the rostrum is the runner-up, Brandon Davis. Making his first podium is appearance is Brian Kubinski.

12Randy PobstVolvo S6016-
26Brandon DavisFord Mustang GT16-
39Brian KubinskiChevrolet Corvette16-
44Andy PilgrimVolvo S6016-
53Tony RiveraPorsche 911 GT316-
61James SofronasPorsche 911 GT316-
711Rob MorganPorsche 911 GT316-
815Jeff CourtneyDodge Viper16-
917Nick MancusoAston Martin DB916-
1013William ZieglerPorsche 911 GT316-
1116Sonny WhelenChevrolet Corvette16-
1219Galen BiekerPorsche GT3 Cup16-
1318Charles MorganPorsche 911 GT316-
1414Spencer PumpellyMercedes-Benz SLR 722 GT15Mechanical
155Dino CrescentiniPorsche 911 GT311Mechanical
1610Tim McKenziePorsche 911 GT39Accident
177Eric CurranChevrolet Corvette8Accident
188Gunter SchaldachDodge Viper8Accident
1912Tony GaplesChevrolet Corvette4Accident
2020Robert RodriguezPorsche GT3 Cup0Did Not Start
2121Mike BorkowskiDodge Viper0Did Not Start

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