BRASELTON, Ga. (April 22, 2004) – The SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series travels to Northern Georgia this weekend for the Sport Compact GP non-points invitational race, as part of the inaugural Drift Atlanta® weekend at Road Atlanta.
Headlining the Drift Atlanta® weekend, the SPEED Touring Car series will feature two non-points races. The first race, a qualifying sprint, will determine the running order for the Sunday’s Sport Compact GP. The qualifying race is set for set for 3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 24 and the race winner will receive $1,000 from series sponsor Air Force Reserve.
Competitors in the Sport Compact GP will have the opportunity to compete for the richest purse in SPEED Touring Car history, totaling more than $40,000 with the race winner taking home a guaranteed $10,000. The Sport Compact GP green flag standing start is set for 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 25.
Both races are a sprint format and will be a pre-determined amount of laps or 30-minutes, whichever comes first.
Heading into this weekend’s event, three-time series Champion Pierre Kleinubing is one of the favorites to win, returning to the seat of his RealTime Racing Acura RSX that carried him to victory in Atlanta last October. Coming off a second place finish in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, the Brazilian hopes to make it two-straight at the fast Braselton circuit.
Another favorite to do well and who is making his SPEED Touring Car debut is former Champ Car driver Memo Gidley, of Navato, Calif. Gidley will pilot the No. 48 United State Air Force Reserve Ford Focus in its series debut. Gidley once drove for Champ Car teams Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Player’s/Forsythe.
Look for the three-car Bimmerworld team to be out front this weekend. Bimmerworld drivers James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C. and local rookie driver Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga. have had a lot of experience and some success at Road Atlanta. In fact, Thomas won the 2003 SARRC Championship in a car that Clay’s Bimmerworld shop owned and built.
Driving the brightly painted neon green and orange No. 98 Wheels America BMW 325Ci, Bob Stretch, of Dallas, will be gunning for his first SPEED Touring Car win. Stretch proved at Sebring earlier this year that he has a fast race car, qualifying on the front row, and he hopes it will be fast enough to put him in victory circle at Road Atlanta.
Neal Sapp, of Ellicott City, Md., who was the 2000 SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year, will commandeer the No. 21 T.C. Kline Racing BMW 325Ci. Sapp has five career SPEED Touring Car wins and his last two SPEED Touring Car wins have come at Road Atlanta (2001).
The Car Doctor World team consisting of rookie drivers Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., and Ryan Pilla, of Amagansett, N.Y., will pull double duty this weekend as they compete in both of the SPEED Touring Car races and the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Atlantic Tour Round One and Two races. In the Touring Car races, Herr will drive the No. 9 Car Doctor Motorsports/Warwick Auto Park Mazda Protegé, while Pilla gets behind the wheel of the No. 10 team entry. Herr is the defending Miata Cup Atlantic Tour Drivers’ Champion. In the Miata Cup races Herr will pilot No. 24 OG Racing/Warwick Autopark Mazda Miata and Pilla will drive the No. 10 Car Doctor World machine.
Gastonia, N.C.-natives and rookie drivers, Chris Tindol and Scott Fredricksen will lead the two-car Tindol Motorsports effort this weekend. Tindol will drive the No. 97 Sparco USA/Oakley Mazda Protegé ES and Fredricksen will drive the No. 96 Sparco USA/Oakley Mazda Protegé ES.
Jim Osborn, Ooltewah, Tenn., will drive the No. 24 TC Thompson’s Children’s Hospital/Remote Area Medical BMW 325Ci. Osborn, who is known for his philanthropic activities away from the track, is still looking for his first career SPEED Touring Car win and hopes to get it this weekend.
Scott Bradley, of San Jose, Calif., hopes to put the No. 13 Circuit City/Sony Mazda Protegé ES in victory circle for the first time in his SPEED Touring Car career. In 2003, Bradley’s season-best finish came at Road Atlanta. He will be the lone driver pulling double duty with the Formula Drift event this weekend, piloting the team’s turbocharged Toyo Tires Mazdaspeed Miata.
Hoping to have a little “luck of the Irish,” Michael Flynn, of Orlando, Fla., looks to get his first career SPEED Touring Car win driving the No. 26 Irish Mike’s Racing Subaru Impreza RS. Road Atlanta is the site of Flynn’s career-best SPEED Touring Car finish.
In addition to the two SPEED Touring Car races, fans will get the opportunity to witness the inaugural Formula Drift® Series event, not to mention some of the hottest wheel-to-wheel racing compliments of the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Tires, the Formula Ford Zetec Championship and SCCA Pro-IT series. Tuner fans won’t want to miss the Mazda Extreme Street car show, as well as the lifestyle marketing events including a concert and extensive vendor displays.
The SPEED Touring Car races will not be broadcast and therefore will not be run for Championship points. The action can be followed, as always, on Live Timing & Scoring Presented by Cadillac at www.world-challenge.com.
For more information about SPEED World Challenge Touring Car, visits www.world-challenge.com. For more information about the Drift Atlanta®, visit www.driftatlanta.com.
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