Pirelli World Challenge
Fans invited to tour starting grid before 2011 season race
|Category||Grand touring, Touring car|
|Country|| United States
|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 sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Founded in 1985, it consists of four classes: grand touring, touring car, a "GTS" class since 2010, and a "touring car B-spec" since 2012. The series holds races at several IndyCar Series, American Le Mans Series, and the North American V8 Supercars 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 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, Speed TV dropped their sponsorship, prompting a move to 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 2011, the series acquired a sponsorship from Pirelli tires. At one of the races that season, the series was compared to the Trans Am Series, also sanctioned by the SCCA.
For 2014, the Pirelli World Challenge will adopt a PRO-AM format with the establishment of a GT-A classification similar to the FIA's bronze category.
Each season consists of around 10 rounds. Each round uses a standing start, as opposed to a rolling start as seen in other sports car racing series. Each race has a 50 minute time limit. Rewards weight is added to successful cars based on finishing position at the previous round. Maximum rewards weight is 200 pounds (91 kg) for GT and 150 pounds (68 kg) for GTS and TC.
Grand Touring (GT) includes a variety of production displacements with no maximum. Forced induction is permitted, and is used to equalize individual models. Sedans, coupes, roadsters, and two-seaters are permitted. The cars can be rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Class horsepower range is 425 - 525 bhp. (317-391 kW). A majority of the vehicles used in this class are comparable to those used in the American Le Mans Series GT classes. FIA GT3 class cars are now approved starting in 2013, with the Audi R8 LMS, Mercedes-Benz SLS, and BMW Z4 GT3's approved for 2013.
A new "GTS" class was added for 2010. It features a combination of sports cars, touring cars built prior to 2010, and FIA GT4 cars. In particular, vehicles previously ineligible for the World Challenge are included. This group is essentially the old touring car class, which until 2010 had become a BMW-Acura-Mazda affair. Models include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Acura TSX, Audi TT, Porsche Cayman, Kia Optima, Nissan 370Z and Scion FR-S.
A new "GT-A" class is set to debut for 2014. It is a designation for amateur drivers.
Touring Car (TC)
For 2010, the Touring Car class was altered to place more restrictions on engine, drivetrain, and aerodynamic modifications. Cars are still allowed aftermarket racing shock absorbers, swaybars and springs. Fine tuning to engines and brakes are allowed as well. along with This came out of the merger with the Touring Car 2 class, which was established in 2009 but failed to take off. All vehicles from before 2010 were moved to the GTS class. Cars built to the specifications of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge's Street Tuner class can participate in World Challenge with the only modification being a change in tires.
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 continue to be limited to mainly chassis tuning, but new will be the requirement of spec components. Examples of eligible cars include the Honda Civic Si, Mazda MX5, VW Golf, Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford Focus, Mini Cooper JCW, and Scion FR-S. 
Touring Car B-Spec
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)http://www.scca.com/clubracing/content.cfm?cid=44472, 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.
In recent years, the World Challenge has 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 established a new website providing race videos, posted shortly after each telecast. 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.
- "World Challenge Series Facts". SCCA Pro Racing 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.