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BY JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE/FOR THE PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Pirelli World Challenge joins this year's event

COURTESY: PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE - Toni Vilander of Finland will drive the R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 in the Rose Cup feature event on Sunday at Portland International Raceway. The 58th Rose Cup Races are set for Friday through Sunday at Portland International Raceway.

The event has been an annual part of the Portland Rose Festival since 1961.

For the first time, the professional Pirelli World Challenge Series will be part of the Rose Cup. The World Challenge GT class will be the featured Rose Cup race. Competing cars include the Ferrari 488, Bentley Continental, McLaren 570S, Porsche Cayman, Lamborghini Huracan and Audi R8 LMS.

Pre-race ceremonies start at 1:45 p.m. Sunday. The World Challenge GT cars also race on Saturday.

Pirelli World Challenge GTS cars also will run on Saturday and Sunday. GTS cars include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, BMW M4 and Audi R8. Past champions Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach will race a Camaro against contenders James Sofronas and Alex Welch in an Audi.

World Challenge Touring Cars will feature the Honda Civic, Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Nissan 370Z. The 2014 Rose Cup winner, Steve Streimer, won the Touring Car race in Virginia this year, and he's likely to be a contender at PIR, his home track.

Four support races include the Great American Stockcar Series, which offers V8-powered stock cars and short heat races. The GASS cars are a consistent fan favorite at the Rose Cup.

The Spec Miata Challenge presented by Wyatt Fire Protection and Midas Auto features identically prepared Mazda Miatas. The Miatas are famous for tight battles and photo finishes. This year, the Spec Miata drivers are in a fight for a season championship, so they'll be racing extra hard.

"Almost all the drivers know each other and are friends," says Spec Miata competitor Will Schrader of Happy Valley. "We eat together and work on our cars together, but when the green flag drops, the friendship stops."

At last year's Rose Cup, Ken Sutherland of Sherwood claimed the win in Spec Miata.

"He is the man to beat and has a target on his back bumper," Schrader says.

The SCCA Spec Racer Ford Showdown features identical sports racer cars powered by sealed 1.6-liter Ford engines. This highly competitive group frequently draws top national drivers to Portland. Leading national drivers at the Rose Cup will include Steve Fogg of West Linn and 2016 national champion Todd Harris of Tigard.

Harris will have to fight off a fierce challenge from his son, Calvin Harris, who has been winning a lot of races this year.

The Vintage Grand Prix presented by Columbia Roofing carries on a Rose Cup tradition with a wide variety of older racing cars, including foreign and domestic brands and iconic models from racing history. The historic Wemme Trophy, named after an early Portland automotive pioneer, will be awarded in this race.

Tickets can be purchased at www.rosecup.com. Single-day tickets and weekend packages, including parking and RV camping, are available.

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