Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
RealTime Racing Chasing 10th Championship in SCCA Speed World Challenge Series
It began like most great partnerships.
"I called American Honda in December of 1986 to try and con them out of a Honda to go ice racing," recalled Peter Cunningham. "Amazingly, they said 'OK, but don't call us back.'
"And we've been together ever since."
This cold call from a 24-year-old unknown led to one of the hottest, longest and most successful relationships in North American motorsports during the past 20 years. Cunningham's RealTime Racing team and Honda have become bullies in the Speed World Challenge - earning nine championships in the past 13 years.
Today, as Cunningham begins his 20th season of involvement with Honda and Acura, he can only reflect on his good fortune.
"I've been doing this a long time and I still have to pinch myself. I'm a very lucky guy," said the 43-year-old native of Milwaukee, Wis. "Who would have thought this partnership would have lasted this long?
"Like I said, I've been very fortunate."
Along with being very competent behind the wheel.
Cunningham had no real racing passion until he was 17 and a friend took him to an autocross event, where people drive their passenger cars around pylons in a parking lot.
"That was cool, so by the time I was in college I was racing my personal car in Showroom Stock road racing on the weekends," he said. "Then school started interfering with my racing schedule, so I quit.
"I got some lucky breaks over the next few years so I could keep racing."
His pitch to Honda put him on the ice circuits of Wisconsin and Minnesota and, after he dusted off some of the highdollar competition, Peter embarked on the beginning of a production-based professional road racing career with Honda.
Cunningham's first World Challenge win came in its inaugural 1990 season, and since then he and the RealTime team have racked up 58 victories to go with their nine championships. SPEED Channel began sponsoring the series in 1999, and today it sports one of the largest and most competitive lineups in American racing.
"The series has grown a lot in the past 20 years and so has RealTime Racing," said Cunningham, who also fields Acuras for Pierre Kleinubing, Nick Esayian, Eric Curran and his 20-year-old protégé, Brandon Davis. This year Acura Certified Pre-owned Vehicles will be the featured logos on the RealTime cars.
"When I started I was a small fish in a small pond. Now I'm a bigger fish, but in a pond that's grown along with me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."