Pirelli World Challenge
Fans invited to tour starting grid before 2011 season race
|Category||Grand touring, Touring car|
|Country|| United States
|Tire suppliers||Pirelli P Zero|
|Last Drivers' champion||GT: Johnny O'Connell
GTS: Lawson Aschenbach
TC: Ryan Winchester
TCB: Robbie Davis
|Last Teams' champion||GT: Cadillac Racing
GTS: Blackdog Racing
TC: Compass 360
TCB: MINI of Charleston Racing
|Last Makes' champion||GT: Cadillac
The Pirelli World Challenge is a North American auto racing series that is managed by WC Vision and sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The World Challenge series was born in 1990, and will celebrate its 25th anniversary season in 2014. The series consists of six driver classifications and five classes of vehicles: grand touring (GT), touring car (TC), a "GTS" class since 2010, "touring car B-spec" (TCB) since 2012, and "Touring Car A" (TCA), new in 2014. The series typically races alongside the IndyCar Series on race event weekends.
The SCCA created a "showroom stock" class for amateur club racing in 1972. In 1984, following the success of the Longest Day of Nelson and another 24-hour race at Mid-Ohio, the SCCA combined existing races into a manufacturer's championship. For 1985, the series became a 6-race professional championship with sponsorship from Playboy magazine. Escort radar detectors sponsored the series from 1986 until 1991.
In 1990, the series was officially named World Challenge and was restructured to adopt rules similar to the European Group A for homologated production cars. The higher-cost "sports" classes were dropped after 1996, leaving the class format as it would stand until 2010. Television network Speedvision began sponsoring the series in 1999. With fields growing, the series began separate races for the GT and Touring classes in 2000, which would remain until 2010. In 2010, the series moved away from the partnership with SPEED, and signed a broadcast partnership with Versus (now NBCSN) for coverage. The series moved existing touring cars into a new GTS class, while changing the rules for the touring car class to reduce costs and keep cars closer to stock.
With the SpeedVision television contract, the World Challenge eventually succeeded Trans Am as the SCCA's premier series.
In July 2008, the World Challenge series was purchased by WC Vision, a group of investors. The Sports Car Club of America remains the sanctioning partner of the series.
Starting with the 2011 season, the series signed a partnership with Pirelli and the leading tire manufacturer became the official tire supplier and title sponsor of the series.
For 2014, the Pirelli World Challenge will have a GT-A classification similar to the FIA's bronze category.
Each season consists of upwards of 12 event weekends and between 14-16 rounds or races. Each round or race uses a standing start, as opposed to a rolling start as seen in other sports car racing series (except for a number of TC, TCA and TCB 2014 races, that will start with a rolling start). Each race has a maximum 50 minute time limit. In 2014, GT and GTS teams will begin the season at St. Petersburg (March 28–30) and compete across nine event weekends and 16 total races or rounds. TC, TCA and TCB teams will begin the season at Barber Motorsports Park and compete across seven event weekends and 14 total races or rounds.
The allowed body styles within this class are coupe, sedan and convertible. The cars permitted in GT are typically sold in the market as “sports” cars, “sport-touring” cars, or performance versions of “luxury” cars. Forced induction is permitted on cars that come equipped with forced induction stock, or on cars that the series has determined need help reaching the target horsepower range. Power output ranges from 425-525 hp. Weight varies depending on power output and tire size. All of the vehicles in GT are rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. FIA GT3 class cars are now approved to compete in the class starting in 2013.
A new "GT-A" driver class is set to debut for 2014. It is a designation to recognize gentlemen drivers that compete in the GT class.
GTS/Grand Touring Sport
The allowed body styles within this class are coupe, sedan and convertible. The cars permitted in GTS are typically marketed as “sports cars”, “sport-touring cars” or performance versions of “luxury” cars but at a lower permissible preparation level than GT. Forced induction is permitted on cars that come equipped with forced induction stock. Power output ranges from 300-400 hp. Weight varies depending on power output and tire size. Front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive configurations are permitted. Additionally, many FIA GT4 class cars are eligible. Models include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Acura TSX, Audi TT, Porsche Cayman, Kia Optima, Nissan 370Z and Scion FR-S.
Touring Car (TC)
The allowed body styles in this class are two-seat roadsters, coupes, hatchbacks, wagons, sedans. Power output ranges from approximately 230 to 260 hp. Weight varies depending on the power output of the individual drivetrain configurations. Front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive configurations are permitted. Forced induction may be allowed on cars that have forced induction systems available from the manufacturer which do not void the factory warranties.
Touring Car A-Spec
New for 2014, this class is an evolution of the current TC class with an emphasis on maintaining cost effectiveness while providing an easy avenue to entry into professional racing. Performance modifications will be limited to mainly chassis tuning. Front wheel and rear wheel drive configurations are permitted. Target power output is 200 crank hp from non-modified stock engines. Forced induction maybe allowed on cars that have forced induction systems available from the manufacturer as a stock engine option. Examples of eligible cars include the Honda Fit, Mazda 3, Fiat 500, Ford Focus, MINI Cooper, Chevrolet Sonic, and Kia Rio.
Touring Car B-Spec
These are smaller cars with small, efficient, naturally aspirated motors. Modifications are limited to manufacturer specified performance spring and shocks to keep overall cost down. Cars competing in TCB are prepared to the SCCA Club Racing B Spec rules. Cars eligible include the Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Mini Cooper, Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Kia Rio, and Nissan Versa.
Older World Challenge Cars
Starting in 2009, older World Challenge cars became eligible (with minor modifications) for competition in SCCA racing. Under the SCCA's General Competition Rules (GCR), the Super Touring category allows World Challenge GTs to compete in STO and Touring cars to compete in STU. In 2013 the STO class was merged into the T1 and GT2 classes.
SPEED Channel televised the World Challenge starting in 1996, with the series being called the SPEED World Challenge until 2010.
Near the end of the broadcast partnership with SPEED, the World Challenge had been broadcast on weekdays as opposed to the traditional weekends. For 2009, the races were combined into an hour-long block.
On January 4, 2010, Versus (now NBC Sports Network) announced they would televise 90-minute broadcasts beginning in the 2010 season.. Each broadcast featured all the races from each round. The entire 2010 season was shown on the channel. The series later returned to weekend telecasts.
The series has also established a website (www.world-challengetv.com) where fans can go to watch live streaming of all series races as well as watch older series races, and in-car video. The website currently has coverage from as far back as 2008.
On October 4, 2010, the series announced that Pirelli would replace longtime partner Toyo Tires as the exclusive tire supplier for the series. For the first time in series history, teams competed on racing slicks (Pirelli P Zero) rather than the DOT competition tires in use for much of its history.
- From 1986 to 1989 the series consisted of endurance races where co-drivers were used, often resulting in co-champions.
- From 1986 to 1996 a variety of prior classification systems were used. Class winners are placed under the heading (GT or TC) of the most similar modern class.
- "SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge - history". SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge. Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- "The Longest Day of Nelson". Nelson Ledges Road Course. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- "World Challenge Car Facts". SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge. Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- Smith, Steven Cole (December 24, 2012). "Another Great Show". Autoweek 62 (26): 68.
- "Pro Racing Archives". Sports Car Club of America. Retrieved 24 July 2010.