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BY JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE/FOR THE PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Pros racers, amateur groups run fast cars at PIR this weekend

COURTESY PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The GT4 America series, set to headline this week's Rose Cup races at Portland International Raceway feature FIA-homologated sports cars, modified to produce up to 450 horsepower. This class commits American muscle against more exotic European sports cars.The 59th annual Rose Cup Races, Friday through Sunday and presented by FastLife.TV at Portland International Raceway, promise a mix of traditional amateur groups and state-of-the-art professional sports car racing.

The headline race is the Pirelli GT4 America series. It features production-based sports cars such as the BMW M4 GT4, Chevy Camaro GT4.R, Audi R8 LMS GT4, Ford Mustang GT4, and the Mercedes-AMG GT4. However, these cars are heavily modified compared to their street-legal counterparts.

The Pirelli organization also will bring several classes of Touring Cars in the TC America series. These classes feature close racing in production cars made by Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mazda, and Hyundai. Past Rose Cup winner Steven Streimer is set to compete in the Touring Car race.

"I'm running the new updated BMW M240i Racing," Streimer said. "I chose this series because Touring Car has larger fields and the racing is really tight. At our last race in Sonoma (California), the top 10 cars were within less than a second of each other."

The GT4 America and TC America series will race on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

In addition to the visiting pro series, the Rose Cup Races will have their usual lineup of local racing talent.

The Rose Cup Race will be among big-bore stock cars such as the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and sports cars including the Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro, Ford Mustang, Porsche GT3 Cup and BMW M3.

Several past Rose Cup winners will be in the mix this year, including Matt Crandall in a Porsche 964, Scotty B. White in a Dodge Viper, and Brian Richards in a Chevrolet Camaro. Past champion Streimer has entered his Viper to compete for the Rose Cup.

"I expect this to be quite the race," Streimer said. "There's a broad spectrum of cars in the race. I think our Vipers should be relatively strong, but some pretty fast cars are going to be out there."

Cindi Lux has made it to the Rose Cup podium, but has not won the race. She is taking a break from her Trans-Am pro racing season to make another run at PIR history in her Dodge Viper.

"We are out to have some fun this weekend," she said. "It's just tremendous being back home running at my hometown track. We don't have the outright speed to win, but we are reliable when it comes to finishes. I am a student of the sport, and every time I get in any race car I discover something new."

In addition to the returning champions, some of the Pacific Northwest's best drivers will be looking for their first Rose Cup victory this weekend. Tim Adolphson, Gary Bockman, and Curt Kallberg are among those hoping to add their names to the Rose Cup trophy.

The Rose Cup Race will begin with pre-race activities at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Also, the weekend slate will have feature races by the popular Spec Miata and SCCA Spec Racer Ford groups. Spec Racer Ford uses a purpose-built single-seat racing car powered by a 1.6-liter Ford engine, while Spec Miata features identically prepared Mazda Miata sports cars.

The Wemme Trophy vintage race brings together classic race cars, mostly from the 1960s, for several races throughout the weekend. On Sunday, the vintage group will race at 11:25 a.m., and the Wemme Trophy will be presented in victory circle after the race.

For tickets and more information, go to rosecup.com or the PIR gate.

On-track activities begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday.


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