No other professional racing series in the United States has a more delightful variety of cars than Pirelli World Challenge. Year in and year out, we see an utterly insane variety of cars, from Bentley Continentals and Mazda MX-5s to more obscure fare like the Sin R1, and we’re here for it all over again all weekend at Circuit of the Americas.
If you’re not here for whatever reason, you’re crazy. PWC is usually good for some really close racing. Most of the classes adhere to international GT3, GT4 and TCR specs, the performance of which is balanced out by the series so that any of the wildly different cars has a shot to win.
Yet the series still has race cars that were converted from regular street cars populating the TC and TCA classes. If you ever bemoan that there aren’t enough normal, everyday cars racing, you should pay more attention to PWC, where Subarus share a paddock with McLarens.
PWC has only had one race so far this year at St. Petersburg, and that was without the TC classes, so the season is still anybody’s to win. This weekend, the top GT and GTS classes will run the series’ longer SprintX format, where the races last a full hour.
Pirelli World Challenge is in a bit of a weird spot this year after the series’ leadership wanted to return PWC to more customer cars as opposed to full factory programs. Factory programs are always a mixed bag, as they’re harder for independent teams to compete against since they usually have more resources to develop fast race cars and attract top drivers. However, those big-budget programs also tend to promote those racing programs a bit more on their end, which is something the somewhat under-promoted PWC could use, to be honest.
Consequently, Cadillac pulled its program out of PWC’s top GT class, and RealTime Racing dropped their heavily-factory-supported Acura NSX GT3 car to run a Honda Civic TCR instead.
At the other end of the grid, Jalopnik’s favorite racing class in the world, TCB (or “B-Spec”), is also gone. Fans of tiny hatchback racing such as myself were devastated, but demand to race B-Spec cars had shrunk over the years to the point where it no longer made sense for the series to keep around.
But that doesn’t mean PWC is down a class—the new TCR class, which uses cars that adhere to the international TCR spec, debuts this weekend, with cars from Honda, Hyundai, Audi, Volkswagen and Alfa Romeo.
We’re not even missing a big, loud General Motors engine in the top class, either. The Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R is awesome, and it’s here. You can peruse the full entry list here, if you’re curious. There’s still a lot of cool stuff you rarely see anywhere else in the U.S., like the funky closed-cockpit KTM X-Bow and the Panoz Avezzano.
We’re already planning to check in with the K-Pax Bentley team, who didn’t have a good time at the last race a couple weeks ago and royally borked a car. Their ultra-dedicated crew recently rebuilt an entire Continental GT3 up from a fresh spare body to race this weekend, which they finished just about an hour before the first practice session Thursday.
We’d also like to check in with a previous Hoon of the Day crew. Team HMA—for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, where they all have normal, regular day jobs—took one of the new Civic Type Rs and made it into a TC-class race car that’s running this weekend.
Are you here at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, too? Chime in here and I may plan a reader meet-up at the track at some point if there’s enough of us around this weekend.
If you’re not here, what would you like to see? Kurt Bradley and I will be wandering around COTA all weekend, looking for good cars and neat stories.