Two-time SCCA National Champion Shows Impressive Consistency in 2016
SALINAS, Calif. – Touring Car racer Toby Grahovec set a goal in 2016 that he had never achieved previously – winning a professional racing championship.
The 37-year-old veteran driver originally from Chicago had done it all in amateur racing – two SCCA national titles at the SCCA Runoffs, two runner-up finishes for the national crown as well as two third places.
Now based out of Texas with the Classic BMW racing operation, Grahovec has put together the type of Pirelli World Challenge season that predicates becoming a champion, eight podiums in ten races including two victories.
“Consistency was our motto going into the season,” said Grahovec, who played hockey in college at Robert Morris University. “We knew if we could be on the podium (top three) on a regular basis that we could challenge for the Touring Car title. I think we have done that so far this year. Now we want to finish off the season with more consistency.”
Grahovec currently leads the Touring Car point standings by 195 points in the No. 26 Classic BMW M235iR with two races remaining at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Pirelli World Challenge season finale set for Oct. 7-9.
“I know we hold a nice lead in the points but we can’t be complacent going to MRLS,” said Grahovec, who now resides in Little Elm, Texas. “It’s important to keep our eyes on the prize of the PWC TC championship. We have the heaviest car in the class and it’s tough on the Pirelli tires at times in the races. So we need to have a strategy to keep our car at the front of the field. If we can do that next month, we secure the title.”
The 2016 season has been a spectacular effort for Grahovec and his Classic BMW team which includes veteran Gino Carini of Milwaukee, Wisc., in the No. 27 Palermo’s Screaming Sicilian Pizza/Marenzo Construction BMW M235iR and teenager Max Fedler of Denver, Colo., in the No. 05 Summit of Everest Motorsports BMW M235iR.
“We have been together a solid operation at Classic BMW and this season has proved that point,” Toby explained. “We have the veteran drivers in Gino and myself and the high school racer in Max who brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team. We all love racing in the Pirelli World Challenge series and taking on a very competitive field. It’s a good variety of cars and drivers.”
Grahovec, who has also served as a racing instructor and movie stunt driver in the past, is close to accomplishing his 2016 goal with two wins, four second places, two thirds and two fourths in his ten starts. Toby’s final two starts of 2016 are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. PDT on Saturday, Oct. 8, and 8:45 a.m. PDT on Sunday, Oct. 9.
“I think if we can get back on the podium in the Saturday race that we will clinch the Touring Car championship,” Toby said. “Then the Sunday can be an all-out assault for the race win. That would be a lot of fun. And it would conclude a tremendous season for our Classic BMW team. But we still have a lot of work to do before that can happen.”
Grahovec’s challengers in the Touring Car category for Round 11 and 12 at MRLS will include two-time race winners Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Que., Canada and Tony Rivera of Vista, Calif., as well as Patrick Gallagher of Thornville, Ohio, Shea Holbrook of Orlando, Fla., Anthony Geraci of Glen Head, N.Y., John Weisberg of Webster, N.Y., and Vesko Kozarov of Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We have a strong field (22 cars) in just the TC class for the season finale and you also have the TCA and TCB cars in our race,” said Grahovec. “So traffic and much slower cars can be tough to drive through as the race (a 40-minute sprint) continues. You just can’t make any mistakes throughout the sprint event. We don’t have pit stops, so it is flat-out from the drop of the green flag. And it’s extremely important for me to see that checkered flag too. That gives me the chance to secure the championship and our season’s goal.”
For Grahovec that first professional title could go exactly as he has planned – being consistent and getting on the podium.
The Pirelli World Challenge season finale, with some 115 competitors in action, begins practice and qualifying sessions at Mazda Raceway on Friday, Oct. 7, with races being contested on Oct. 8 and 9.