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.

The final round of the 2008 World Challenge season was held at Road Atlanta. Drivers would compete on the twelve-turn 2.58-miles road course for twenty-eight laps or fifty-minutes – whichever came first.

The 2009 World Challenge Grand Touring podium at Road Atlanta. In the center is K-PAX Racing’s Andy Pilgrim who earned his second victory of the year. To Pilgrim’s left is Erin Curran who captured the runner-up position in the Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette. And, completing the podium is the points leader, Brandon Davis.
The first lap through the ‘Esses’ and Andy Pilgrim in the K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 leads nineteen World Challenge Grand Touring competitors in the penultimate round of the 2009 season. Immediately behind Pilgrim is the Ford Mustang of the fastest qualifier, Brandon Davis. Following Davis, are the third and second place starters, James Sofronas and Eric Curran.
Qualifying fourth was Andy Pilgrim driving the No. 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60. Pilgrim had a great launch and passed the front row starters, Brandon Davis and Eric Curran. Pilgrim’s teammate, Rand Pobst was not so lucky – he suffered a drive-line failure on the starting line. Pilgrim led flag-to-flag and won by a margin of 6.467-seconds. This was his second victory of the season; the first was at New Jersey Motorsport Park.
Points leader, Brandon Davis qualified the Applied Computer Systems Ford Mustang GT on the pole. At the start, he and his front row partner, Eric Curran were passed by the Volvo S60 of Andy Pilgrim. Davis followed Pilgrim in second place but on lap eleven he was overtaken by Curran. At the checkered flag, he was third – more important, Davis increased his points lead over Tony Rivera who trailed him in the title chase.
Eric Curran driving the Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette was the second fastest qualifier and shared the front row with pole-sitter, Brandon Davis. Curran was slow to get away at the start and was passed by Andy Pilgrim, Spencer Pumpelly and James Sofronas – he completed the first lap in fifth place. During the contest, he worked his way back to a second place finish and in the process set the fastest race lap.
Trailing the point’s leader, Brandon Davis, by 52 markers (824 to 772) was Tony Rivera. At Road Atlanta, Rivera qualified the No. 97 Porsche 911 GT3 sixth. At the start of the contest, he was passed by the eighth fastest qualifier, Boris Said. Said was Davis’ teammate and it was quite clear that his mission was to ensure Rivera scored as few points as possible. It took several laps for him to pass Said and by the end of the race he was fourth - behind Davis.
Series veteran, James Sofronas entered Road Atlanta third in the championship points chase. Sofronas, driving the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 had scored a victory earlier in the season at Long Beach. In qualifying, Sofronas posted the third fastest time. At the start of the event, he trailed Andy Pilgrim and Brandon Davis but was eventually passed by Eric Curran and Tony Rivera and finished in fifth place.
It became evident, early in the contest that Boris Said’s job was to ensure that his teammate and points leader, Brandon Davis scored more points than Tony Rivera. Said driving the No. 3 Applied Computer Systems Ford Mustang Cobra was successful as he kept Rivera behind him for several laps. Once by Said, it was too late for Rivera to catch Davis. Said finished in the sixth position.
Jeff Courtney won the ‘Sunoco Hard Charger Award’ – given for advancing the most positions during the race. Courtney started in the twelfth grid position. During the course of the event, he improved five places to finish seventh. This was his second best result of the 2009 season – at Mid-Ohio he was sixth.
The Racer’s Group prepared Mercedes-Benz SLR 722 GT made its World Challenge debut at Autobahn. Spencer Pumpelly handed the driving duties – starting and finished fourteenth. This model of Mercedes was not designed to be street legal. The car is powered by a Mercedes V8 engine which produces 670-horsepower. At Road Atlanta, Pumpelly qualified seventh and finished tenth.

14Andy PilgrimVolvo S6029-
22Eric CurranChevrolet Corvette29-
31Brandon DavisFord Mustang GT29-
46Tony RiveraPorsche 911 GT329-
53James SofronasPorsche 911 GT329-
68Boris SaidFord Mustang Cobra29-
712Jeff CourtneyDodge Viper29-
811Tony GaplesChevrolet Corvette29-
913Dino CrescentiniPorsche 911 GT329-
107Spencer PumpellyMercedes-Benz SLR 722 GT29-
1114Mike DavisFord Mustang Cobra29-
1216William ZieglerPorsche 911 GT329-
1317Rob MorganPorsche 911 GT329-
1410Gunter SchaldachPorsche 911 GT329-
1515Charles PutnamDodge Viper28-
1618Nick EsayianDodge Viper25-
1719Charles MorganPorsche 911 GT322Mechanical
189Sonny WhelenChevrolet Corvette5Engine
195Randy PobstVolvo S603Drive-Line

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