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.

Twenty-one World Challenge GT competitors entered the season’s final event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Leading the field out of turn two is point’s leader and pole-sitter Brandon Davis in the Sun Micro Systems Ford Mustang GT. Behind Davis is eventual winner James Sofronas driving the Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3.
After qualifying third, Dino Crescentini appeared to be ready to end the season with a strong result. But it all came to an end on the first lap at corner three. Crescentini was running third when Boris Said attempted to pass him on the inside. Said made contact with Crescentini sending him into the turn three gravel travel trap. The incident brought out the race’s first caution – Crescentini lost a lap after being rescued by the track’s safety team.
Brandon Davis was GT point’s leader entering the final round. During the season Davis was consistently finishing on the podium – in nine races Davis had seven top-three results and a win at Mid-Ohio. He started the weekend off by qualifying on the pole and led the first five-laps. Using a conservative race strategy, he avoided any serious challenges and finished fourth which allowed him to secure the 2009 Drivers’ title.
The only threat to Davis’ championship hopes came from Tony Rivera who was second in points. Driving a Porsche 911 GT3, Rivera started from the fourth position. During the race, Rivera moved to second, after getting by Davis and Boris Said. On the final lap, a pass by Randy Pobst knocked him into the gravel trap. Rivera finished seventeenth and dropped to third in the final Drivers’ standings.
Boris Said joined the Applied Computer Solutions team to provide support to Brandon Davis. Said’s goal was to score more points than Tony Rivera and keep him behind Davis. Said was successful until lap-19 when he and Rivera made contact in turn two. The pass by Rivera caused Said to go wide and slow down. His reduced speed caught Eric Curran off guard and the two made contact causing Said to spin.
Driving the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 was James Sofronas. Sofronas qualified on the front row with pole-sitter Brandon Davis. He was third in points having won earlier in the season at Long Beach but was not a threat to Davis for the title. Sofronas trailed Davis for the first five-laps and then took the lead in turn two. He would win the season finale by 4.297-seconds and claim second in the Drivers’ Championship.
Qualifying sixth at Mazda Raceway was defending champion Randy Pobst. Pobst’s season was plagued by mechanical problems which produced inconsistent results. He did not start the first race of the season at Sebring but qualified on the front row four-times and won at Autobahn Country Club. In the finale, he charged through the field and finished second but fined 20-points for making contact with Tony Rivera on the last lap.
Erin Curran finished second five-times during the 2009 World Challenge season but never made it to the top step of the podium. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Curran started from the eighth position on the grid. He was in fifth place when he arrived at the Rivera/Said incident in turn two. Unable to avoid Said, Curran made contact with him and took the fourth position. He inherited a third place finish when Pobst caused Rivera to spin on the final lap.
Boris Said was hired to help Brandon Davis win the Drivers’ Championship. At the previous round, in Road Atlanta, Said was able to keep a hard charging Tony Rivera behind him for much of the race. His efforts prevented Rivera from scoring more points than Davis. At Mazda Raceway, he qualified fifth and was third by the end of the first lap. On lap-19, Said was hit by Eric Curran and spun – he was fifteenth at the checkered flag.

12James SofronasPorsche 911 GT328-
26Randy PobstVolvo S6028-
38Eric CurranChevrolet Corvette28-
41Brandon DavisFord Mustang GT28-
511Andy PilgrimVolvo S6028-
612Gunter SchaldachPorsche 911 GT328-
714Rob MorganPorsche 911 GT328-
813Charles PutnamDodge Viper28-
99Sonny WhelenChevrolet Corvette28-
1015Tony GaplesChevrolet Corvette28-
1110Jeff CourtneyDodge Viper28-
1218Charles MorganPorsche 911 GT328-
1316Mike DavisFord Mustang Cobra28-
1420Tomy DrissiDodge Viper28-
155Boris SaidFord Mustang Cobra28-
167Kip OlsonAcura NSX28-
174Tony RiveraPorsche 911 GT327Off Course
183Dino CrescentiniPorsche 911 GT327-
1917William ZieglerPorsche 911 GT316Mechanical
2021Paul BrownFord Mustang GT8Electical
2119Chad RaynalCadillac CTS-V5Accident

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