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.

Race five of ten for the 2009 Grand Touring SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Championship was conducted at Watkins Glen International as part of the Camping World Grand Prix weekend. Only eleven drivers were entered to compete on the eleven-turn 3.337-mile road course.

Eleven competitors were gridded on the front straight for round five of the 2009 Grand Touring SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Championship. On the pole is the series most recent winner, Jason Daskalos, driving the Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper. Daskalos was fifth fastest in qualifying but earned the pole when Brandon Davis lost the Fast Five Coin Toss. Sharing the front row with Daskalos is Dino Crescentini.
The fourth-fastest qualifier, Dino Crescentini, started on the outside of the front row. He got a great launch when the lights went out but was passed by James Soforonas. On lap-5, Crescentini passed Sofronas at the ‘Inner Loop’ for the lead. Crescentini maintained first place to the finish while holding-off a hard-charging Eric Curran. This was Crescentini’s second series victory; his first came at Portland in 2005.
The No. 30 Whelen Chevrolet Corvette was driven by Eric Curran, who had two podium finishes in 2009 but was yet to win his first race of the season. Curran started fourth at Watkins Glen International and early in the contest, chased the leaders, James Sofronas and Dino Crescentini. On lap-15, he moved into second place and tracked down Crescentini. At the finish, Curran was second by a margin of 0.255-seconds.
James Sofronas, the winner of round two at Long Beach, had an excellent start. He moved from third on the grid to lead the first four laps of the race. On lap-5, the driver of the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3 was passed by his teammate, Dino Crescentini. Ten circuits later, Sofronas lost the runner-up position to the Chevrolet Corvette of Eric Curran. He would capture the final spot on the podium.
The points leader heading into round four, Brandon Davis, was the fastest qualifier for the second consecutive race. Unfortunately, Davis would start fifth after losing the Fast Five Coin Toss. He moved the No. 10 Applied Computer Solutions / Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra into fourth place early in the contest. On the last lap, Davis’ throttle cable broke and he rolled across the finish line in eighth place.
After the grid was inverted, the winner from the previous round at Mosport International Raceway, Jason Daskalos, inherited the pole position. Daskalos was unable to capitalize on his good fortune and ran in sixth place for much of the race. In the closing stages, he was challenged by the No. 97 Tax Masters sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 of title contender, Tony Rivera, but Daskalos was able to maintain his position.
The round five podium for the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Grand Touring class at Watkins Glen International. In the center is the winner, Dino Crescentini. Crescentini’s victory kept the streak alive – five different winners in as many races. On the right side of the rostrum is Eric Curran from Whelen Engineering. The final spot on the podium is occupied by Crescentini’s Global Motorsports Group teammate, James Sofronas.

12Dino CrescentiniPorsche 911 GT322-
24Eric CurranChevrolet Corvette22-
33James SofronasPorsche 911 GT322-
46Randy PobstVolvo S6022-
57Andy PilgrimVolvo S6022-
61Jason DaskalosDodge Viper22-
79Tony RiveraPorsche 911 GT322-
85Brandon DavisFord Mustang GT22-
910Gunter SchaldachDodge Viper22-
108Sonny WhelenChevrolet Corvette2Mechanical
1111William ZieglerPorsche 911 GT31Withdrawn

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