CELINA, Texas – It’s been a big year for Pirelli World Challenge racer Toby Grahovec.
Grahovec, an Orland Park, Ill., native, has been sporting a wide smile since the birth of his second child, a boy named Ronan, this year as well as the sensational World Series victory of his beloved Chicago Cubs.
The former college hockey player (forward-center) at Robert Morris University topped off his year with an impressive Touring Car series championship, his first professional title.
“Yes, I’ll say it was a great year for me as well as my wife, Morgan,” said Grahovec, who now resides in Celina, Texas., closer to his Classic BMW Motorsports racing headquarters. “Ronan is a great little guy and our first full season with the BMW M235iR was special with our consistent runs. Of course, the Cubs’ World Series win was incredible too.”
Grahovec, 37, has been a winning driver since his karting days as a teenager but it was hockey that helped earn a business degree via athletic scholarship at Robert Morris. After graduation, Toby sought a career in motorsports as he assisted Peter Cunningham’s RealTime Racing operation with a variety of on-track events including teaching race driving.
He became a serious contender for SCCA national championships with victories in 2005 and 2009 in the SSB division with an Acura Integra built by RealTime Racing.
“I owe a lot to Peter and his RealTime Racing group as well as my dad (Duane),” said Gravohec. “My dad raced super karts at places like Daytona and they were fast. I was able to get into karting and then racing in cars. They guided me in the right directions and I wanted to race for championships as the years continued. Winning the SCCA Runoffs were exciting and I wanted to win a pro title next.”
In 2015, he competed in six Pirelli World Challenge races in the Touring Car A category with hopes of moving into the top Touring Car division in 2016.
“I had a long association with Classic BMW and we were looking at the new M235iR model for the TC class,” he explained. “BMW had been running the car in Europe and we thought it would be competitive in PWC. We got the car just ten days before the season opener at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in March. We only tested one day and the car felt great.”
Grahovec’s initial feelings about the new BMW were correct as he recorded a victory and a second place in the two COTA Touring Car feature events. He returned for the second TC weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with another win and runner-up to advance to the top of the Touring Car point standings. Toby’s plan for a 2016 title run was coming together.
“We had a wild race in the second event at CTMP,” he said. “There were like four or five guys in the mix and we were swapping the lead two or three times a lap. It was spectacular and we had another good weekend.”