SAFEisFAST RACE ENGINEERS VIDEO; IAIN WATT NEW ON-LINE Q&A; STILO HELMET WINNER
The new SAFEisFAST video is all about What It Takes To Be a Race Engineer. The 10th installment in the Career Development instructional block explains the skills and personality teams are looking for in a race engineer.
Jeff Braun, chief race engineer for Level 5 Motorsports, leads this insightful piece with Roger Griffiths (Technical Director for Honda Performance Development); Doug Fehan (Program Manager for Corvette Racing); Simon Dowson (G-Drive Team Manager); Bill Riley (SRT Motorsports Team Manager); Brandon Fry (Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Team Manager and Chief Engineer); and Dave Sims (Risi CompetizioneTeam Manager).
These days, it takes an undergraduate degree in mechanical or electrical engineering to be seriously considered for an engineering position with a professional race team. Surprisingly though, many team managers are looking for skills and interest outside the textbook – practical, hands-on experience.
Today's young graduates are better equipped to handle the rapidly advancing computerization of racecar technology. It's simply in the current generation's skill set whereas it was an “old dog/new trick” scenario for those coming along in the 1980s and '90s. The challenge for the young engineer today is correctly applying what he sees on the screen to that metal and carbon fiber weapon sitting in the garage.
SAFEisFAST ON-LINE INSTRUCTOR – IAIN WATT, RACE ENGINEER
Iain Watt is certainly no stranger to world-class drivers. The Scottish-born engineer has worked with a who's who of open-wheel stand-outs, including Max Papis, Cristiano da Matta, Dario Franchitti, Christian Fittipaldi and Tony Kanaan. He recently played a prominent role in Action Express Racing's victory in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Iain Watt (right) debriefs driver Darren Law during the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Darren Law Web site image]
A graduate of the Cranfield Institute of Technology in Bedford, England, Watt gained his first open-wheel racing experience with Lola Cars Ltd., where he worked between 1994 and 1996 as Design Engineer for the Indy car project and served as race engineer with a number of teams during the season.
Watt then grasped an opportunity to move to the United States with Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI). He worked as track and in-house chief engineer for the team's Champ Car program, overseeing da Matta's first victory at Chicago Motor Speedway in 2000. After successful spells also with Team Green and Mo Nunn Racing, Watt joined Cheever Racing in 2004 taking engineering responsibility for both the team's IRL program and, in 2007, a redesign of the Fabcar sports car chassis.
Watt continued to broaden his experience by switching to NASCAR, where he worked as Performance Engineer for Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Richard Petty Motorsports for three years. He's now back in the sports car ranks with Action Express Racing where he has played a key role in helping the team return to Victory Lane. Watt, who has enjoyed success in a broad spectrum of motorsports is now accepting questions as the latest SAFEisFAST Online Engineering Instructor. His answers will be posted beginning Monday, February 24.
RISING STAR WINS SAFEisFAST.COM SAFETY COMPETITION - PICKS UP STILO F1 HELMET
Young UK racing driver Alex Sedgwick has won the SAFEisFAST.com Stilo Helmet competition. The 15-year-old successfully answered five questions relating to motor sport safety and his name was drawn out of a hat to win the helmet worth over $5,000.
The competition was inundated with entries, particularly from young drivers looking to start or develop their racing careers. To successfully answer, participants needed knowledge not just of helmet technology but also other safety equipment and general medical knowledge. Correct answers were received from all over the world to win the Stilo ST4 Zero, the lightest F1-approved helmet available.
Competition winner Sedgwick has over five years experience in karting and is now making the step up to car racing. The youngster was recently crowned the Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner, securing a fully-funded season in the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship, a support category of the British Touring Car Championship.
Sedgwick said: "The helmet is amazing and it is fantastic to win this great prize. The SAFEisFAST website has been a great source of information to help me move from karting to cars. I would recommend it to any driver."
Bobby Rahal, Road Racing Drivers Club president, said: "The Stilo Helmet competition was a great success, not only in terms of entries but also in getting young racing drivers to engage with motor sport safety. The ST4 Zero is one of the best helmets on the market and I am sure it will be of great benefit to Alex in his early career."
HANS DEVICE SPORT II MODEL FROM SIMPSON PRIZE FOR LATEST SAFETY COMPETITION CONTEST
The next safety competition, starting today, offers drivers an opportunity to win a HANS Device, Sport II model from Simpson. Click here for more details.
SAFEisFAST is a free online resource also offering video tutorials on safety, fitness, mental skills, race craft, career development, sponsorship, marketing and more to assist the careers of drivers in all forms of racing. The website was created by the Road Racing Drivers Club led by president Bobby Rahal in conjunction with the FIA Institute.
Since its launch, there have been over 525,000 views of the online tutorials from visitors representing more than 160 countries. The videos also have been made available to a wider global audience with the inclusion of closed-captions in 71 different languages.
AMELIA ISLAND HONORS JOCHEN MASS; GORSLINE SCHOLARSHIP; LB REMINDER
The second weekend of March each year, the cream of the car folk and their magnificent machines roll into Amelia Island, Florida, for Bill Warner's annual Concours d'Elegance – a bucket-list-must. From Warner's kitchen comes a feast to satisfy the most eclectic palate.
Jochen Mass is this year's honored guest at Amelia Island Coucours.
The 2014 bash – March 6-9 – will honor Jochen Mass with a gala dinner hosted by Mercedes-Benz Saturday evening in the Talbot Ballroom of the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton. Although Mass started 114 Formula 1 races over a nine-year period, he had his best results later in sports cars. In 1989, Mass helped Mercedes to its first Le Mans victory in 35 years. Two years earlier, he teamed with Bobby Rahal to take the 12 Hours of Sebring for Porsche.
Amelia's renowned seminars will include "The Great Offy Drivers" Friday afternoon anchored by Johnny Rutherford with Al and Bobby Unser, Parnelli Jones and David Hobbs among the panelists. Saturday morning's seminar is "The Merchants of Speed" with team owners Rahal and John Mecom, plus Ray Evernham, Alwin Springer and Bob Tullius – a diverse cross-section.
Of course, the pièce de résistance as always is the Concours d'Elegance. The generalist will be sated by the variety of machines on display around the 10th and 18th holes of the golf course, while the more focused aficionado will find examples of his favorite genra splendidly represented.
Featured this year are the BMW art cars most ably represented by the very first 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" – an alliance among racer and art auctioneer Herve Poulain and American sculptor Alexander Calder spurred on by Jochen Neerpasch, head of BMW Motorsport. In 1975, the car's birth year, Sam Posey along with Poulain and ‘64 Le Mans winner Jean Guichet were leading class after nine hours when a drive line failure sidelined the Batmobile. Posey, a noted artist in his own right, will be around to talk about the project.
BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" driven by Sam Posey at LeMans.
As always, there's something interesting cooking the whole four days with sponsored receptions and parties, local tours, auctions including RM, test drives, a vintage fashion show, book signings, plus automotive art and photography exhibits and the Porsche Driving Experience.
Exhibitors include Bentley, BMW, BMW Group Classic, Breitling, Brumos, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, MerceBMW des-Benz, Porsche and SRT.
NOTE: Advance tickets can be purchased on-line through Wednesday, Feb. 26.
20TH GORSLINE SCHOLARSHIP FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Candidates for the 20th Gorsline Scholarship include three of auto racing's rising stars, all under the age of 21, who have already demonstrated their talents on North American race tracks for at least a dozen years.
The Gorsline Scholarship is presented by Gorsline Company of Rochester, N.Y., the leader in high-risk motorsports insurance. It recognizes aspiring drivers and presents a program that provides tools that will assist these drivers in developing skills on and off the track to attain their professional goals.
The scholarship winner will be named on Thursday, March 13, during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (Fla.) fueled by Fresh From Florida, and will work with Dr. Jacques Dallaire, Director of Performance Prime, to create an individually-designed performance-enhancement program, courtesy of Gorsline Company.
"Each of these drivers is an outstanding competitor who started at a very young age. They've already shown how far their talents can take them in this sport," said John Gorsline, principal of Gorsline Company. "We at Gorsline Company are excited to recognize the achievements of them all. They are true rising stars."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the most recent recipient of the Gorsline Scholarship in 2012. No scholarship was awarded in 2013.
The candidates for the 2014 Gorsline Scholarship are as follows:
Matthew Brabham - (Indianapolis and Gold Coast Australia) - Part of the Brabham Family dynasty as grandson of Jack Brabham and son of Geoff Brabham. Will turn 20 on Feb. 25. Began racing karts at age 7, winning 46 races as well as the Yamaha and SE QLD rookie titles through 2007, before moving up to the Jr National Light class. In 2008 he won both the NSW and QLD State Jr National Light titles and in 2009 the Jr Rotax Young Guns title. He then switched to Formula Ford, finishing second once and third once in the Victorian State series and was selected to join the CAMS Rising Star program for 2010.
Young Brabham competed in the Victorian Formula Ford State Series in 2011 and in the Australian National Championship, winning eight State races and two National races. The following two years saw him become the 2012 USF2000 Series Champion and Rookie of the Year, with four wins, three track records and six poles, and the 2013 Pro Mazda Series Champion and Rookie of the Year, with 13 wins and 10 poles. Was awarded BRDC Rising Star membership and was nominated for a Team USA scholarship. Will race for Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights in 2014.
Sean Rayhall - (Winston, Ga.) - Will turn 19 on March 10. Started racing karts at age 7, and at age 10 raced 125 shifter karts and Bandolero races. By age 11 was a nationally-ranked kart driver. Moved to formula cars at age 12 and became the youngest driver in North America to win an open-wheel race. He then became the youngest driver to win a Skip Barber Series and at 13 in the Skip Barber Nationals was the youngest driver in North America to win a National race. Switched to oval racing in a Legends car at 14 and dominated the young lions division winning numerous events.
Rayhall also won his first professional title, the inaugural Formula Enterprise Pro Championship that year. Then moved up to the Pro Legends class and dominated again. At 16 he continued racing Legends, GT cars, Prototypes and Pro Cup and Late Model Stock Cars. Won the 2013 Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Championship. Having finished second in his ALMS debut last year at Petit LeMans, has his eyes set on the PC title in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. To date, has participated in 171 car races and has won 74 times, with 118 podiums, 47 poles and 70 fastest laps.
Madison Snow - (Lehi, Utah) - Turned 19 in December. Started racing at age 5 in karts and continues to race karts along with cars. In 2010, at the age of 14 raced a Miata in MPRA, a series at Miller Motorsports Park, placing second in the championship. He moved up to racing Porsches in 2011 at age 15 and currently races in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge in North America. Youngest winner to win a Porsche Cup race, and placed first in both races at the Gold Cup Class at Miller Motorsports Park. Has numerous wins and championships in karting. Is a member of a family of racers, including Melanie Snow, Martin Snow and McKay Snow.
Previous Gorsline Scholarship recipients:
2012 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2011 Conor Daly
2010 Josef Newgarden
2009 Joel Miller
2008 Dane Cameron
2007 JR Hildebrand
2006 Katherine Legge
2005 Colin Braun
2004 Ryan Lewis
2003 Rocky Moran Jr.
2002 Danica Patrick
2001 Patrick Long
2000 Bryan Sellers
1999 David Besnard
1998 Buddy Rice
1997 Butch Leitzinger
1996 Jerry Nadeau
1995 Anthony Lazzaro
1994 Bryan Herta
The Gorsline Company, headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., pioneered the business of providing insurance for high-risk professionals in the U.S. The company specializes in providing racing drivers and team owners creative, custom-designed insurance packages and estate planning strategies. In addition to insuring top racing drivers in all U.S. racing series for over 45 years, the company has been instrumental in structuring successful Performance Bonus Packages for teams, tracks and series. Dedicated to the motorsports community, Gorsline Company has awarded the Gorsline Company scholarship since 1994 to talented up-and-coming drivers, as well as the Walter Mitty Award to the vintage driver who demonstrates the sportsmanship of the committed "gentleman vintage driver." Gorsline Company also supports the Bob Snodgrass Award, given to the TUDOR United SportsCar Racing Championship team owner and/or manager who shares the professionalism and dedication of the late Bob Snodgrass. Company principal John Gorsline has also been frequently mentioned in articles in the New York Times, USA Today and numerous motorsports publications. He is also a member of the Road Racing Drivers Club, the Automobile Club of Monaco, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, and the Goodwood Road Racing Club.
YOUR LONG BEACH PLANS ARE EITHER DONE OR NEED TO BE DONE
Dutch Mandel just published a great reminder in Autoweek. Check it out.
The date is April 10:
and limited. The tariff is $175 per member and $200 for guests. Checks should be made out to the RRDC and mailed to John Fergus, The Fergus Companies, 8377 Green Meadows Drive, Lewis Center, OH 43035.
Cash and checks will be accepted at the door (plus a $25 backmarker premium), but advance payment means early access to those existentially illuminating pre-dinner sharpeners!
Since practice starts early the next day, cocktails commence at 6:00 PM and dinner at 7:15. President Bobby Rahal's interview with our honoree should be ﬁnished by 9:30.
Oh, did we mention... the honoree is Mario Andretti.
MEMBER NEWS: MARIO AT THE BEACH; MORTON/LENO; TEAM USA KIWI TOUR; SHELBY MARVEL
In officially announcing the Honored Guest at the annual RRDC Legends Banquet in the run-up to the Long Beach Grand Prix, our president Mr. Rahal, paid homage in a note titled "That's Mr. Andretti To You!" It almost sounded like he'd lost a bet; but really, it's all true. According to Bobby:
"Had his parents Luigi and Rina named him Mike instead of Mario, the entire world might not presume a ﬁrst-name relationship. Mario, Oprah and Cher are unusual-name notables, but relevant only because their fame resonates among millions.
"Fact: in vast swaths of this world, the word 'Mario' equals Racing and "Racing” equals Mario, period. Neither Richard, nor Jimmy, nor Juan Manuel competes. One doesn't even need to unpack the Andretti resume to know that a motorsports god walks among us.
"Except we will because, comparatively, we're all just aspiring journeymen, humbled by the scope and diversity of Mario Gabriele Andretti's extraordinary accomplishments: Formula 1 World Champion; USAC Dirt Track and IROC Championships; four-time IndyCar champ, three-time Sebring winner, three-time Indy pole sitter, three times Driver of The Year; the only driver ever to put together the trifecta of the Indy 500, the Daytona 500 and F1 numero uno, plus a Pikes Peak win and Le Mans podium for good measure.
"Stay with me, Trilby, I'm just beginning! Ponder what it took to be an intercontinental driver over 39 competitive years — most when airplanes lumbered behind propellers, open trailers ﬁsh-tailed behind pickups and a weekend off meant the race car broke. Then, wrap your brain around 109 lifetime poles and 111 top-step ﬁnishes, including 407 IndyCar starts, 7,595 laps led and 52 wins over four decades, all against the ﬁnest drivers on wheels.
"Mario, THE Mario — driver, track promoter, winemaker, raconteur, begetter of a racing clan and consummate gentleman. To fall back onto a clichè, after Mr. Andretti, they broke the mold. (Just. No. 'Super Mario'. Clichès. Please.)
"The Long Beach Legends Banquet has become motorsports' most celebratory event. To the honoree list of Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Roger Penske, Jim Hall and Brian Redman we now are thrilled to add the fabled Mario Andretti.
"The date is April 10: Reservations are required, and limited (
) with $175 Member and $200 guest checks made out to the RRDC ℅ John Fergus, The Fergus Companies, 8377 Green Meadows Drive, Lewis Center, OH 43035. Cash and checks will be accepted at the door (plus a $25 backmarker premium), but advance payment means early access to those existentially illuminating pre-dinner sharpeners!
"Since practice starts early the next day, cocktails commence at 6:00 PM and dinner at 7:15 with my Mario interview deﬁnitely ﬁnished by 9:30.
"How could this evening not be fun, charming, poignant, sweet and eternally memorable? I look forward to seeing you there!"
JOHN MORTON ON JAY LENO'S GARAGE
We told you about John Morton's book "Inside Shelby American – Wrenching and Racing with Carroll Shelby in the 1960s". It's available at Motorbooks. Last week, Morton was on Jay Leno's Garage to talk about the book and those rollicking early days at Shelby American. Click here for the full show.
TEAM USA SCHOLARSHIP WINNER ALBERICO WRAPS UP KIWI TOUR
Team USA Scholarship winner Neil Alberico hasn’t enjoyed as much success as he had wished for over the past five weeks in New Zealand, but he kept his head down and emerged with a projected top-10 ranking after the 15 races which comprised an intensely competitive Toyota Racing Series season.
"The past five weeks of the Toyota Racing Series have been incredibly intense and a wonderful learning experience," said Alberico, 21, from Los Gatos, Calif. "Thanks to all the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship for making this opportunity possible again. Also, thanks to all the boys at Victory Racing New Zealand for their massive effort this past month." Alberico previously won a Team USA Scholarship in 2011.
RRDC member Jeremy Shaw heads up the Team USA Scholarship program which is supported by and matches perfectly with the young driver education and career advancement strategy of the Road Racing Drivers Club from its earliest days. SAFEisFAST.com and Team USA Scholarship represent the theory and practice of road racing respectively. In addition, a number of RRDC members offer sponsorship and other support to Team USA Scholarship.
AN HISTORIC HONOR FOR PETER BROCK AND THE LATE CARROLL SHELBY
According to the Historic Vehicle Association, a 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe has become the first vehicle recorded under a federal program to identify and preserve important engineering marvels.
Peter Brock's prototype Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe as it looks today. [Michael Furman Photography/Historic Vehicle Association image]
The Peter Brock-penned car is currently part of the collection at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. The prototype coupe was the first of six from Shelby American and the only one built entirely at Carroll Shelby’s facility in Venice, Calif.
Chassis CSX2287, the prototype, came in fourth over all – behind three Ferraris – at the 1964 Sebring 12 Hour race; and although it led the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 10 hours that year, it was disqualified for an illegal jump start. The second coupe at LeMans was piloted to the GT victory, fourth overall by Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant. That memorable event plus the development of the Daytona Coupe is captured in a short film by Pat Bondurant marking the 50th Anniversary of the car's competition debut.
CHARLIE EARWOOD 1924-2014
Charlie Earwood, one of the best liked and most respected people in the motorsports industry, passed away today, Jan. 28. His death was first reported on Facebook by his son and fellow RRDC member Terry Earwood.
“After failing health the past year, my Dad, Charles ‘Charlie’ Earwood passed away in his sleep peacefully at home on the water in Punta Gorda FL last nite. He was known by thousands as the World's Best Chief Steward. His passions were racing, cars, boating/fishing, me and Steve and Mom. I have been truly blessed all my life, thanks Dad for who you were, all you taught and meant to me, and all the lives you touched, I love you, RIP”
His son’s sentiments are felt by all who knew him. Charlie was a Southern gentleman – kind, gracious, soft-spoken but firm, achieving excellence in all his endeavors from running a mega-company to raising a family with his equally beloved wife Ann.
An early Club Racer, Earwood joined SCCA in 1960 and ran Porsches in both E and F Production. Both of his sons Terry and Steve were introduced to the sport and have remained in the industry their whole lives.
Once out of the cockpit, Charlie moved to the organization and management of the sport, serving as Chief Steward for the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Road Atlanta, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Daytona 24 plus a wide variety of vintage racing events. He was series Chief Steward for the SCCA Trans-Am, the SCCA Playboy Endurance Series, the SCCA Truck Series and the F2000 Series.
In 1986, while General Manager of Sebring International Raceway, Earwood and John Burns shrunk the original 5-mile airport circuit down to its current 3.7-mile configuration, maintaining its original integrity as “America's toughest and most competitive track” while opening it for year-round use.
A 1981 recipient of the prestigious Woolf Barnato Trophy for “Outstanding long-term contributions to Sports Car Club of America and the sport of Road Racing,” he was also inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2012 and was awarded the “Flame of Excellence” trophy by Historic Sportscar Racing. He is a member of Legends of Sebring Hall of Fame.
Earwood is survived by Ann, his wife of 72 years; sons Terry and Steve; two granddaughters, a grandson and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for March 4 in Punta Gorda.
HAYWOOD, SACHS, LOSHAK HONORED AT RRDC DAYTONA DINNER
The only person surprised by Hurley Haywood being named recipient on the RRDC’s Phil Hill Award was Hurley Haywood. "When Bobby (RRDC President Rahal) called me up and told me I was going to get the Phil Hill Award, I was really shocked. Any time you could be in the same sentence with Phil Hill is something that is very special to me.
Hurley Haywood talks about what the Phil Hill Award means to him. [Brian Cleary image]
"Phil Hill was an icon in this sport," said Haywood as he accepted the award from Rahal at the RRDC Annual Awards Dinner at Daytona International Speedway. "He won LeMans three times, was a Formula 1 champion. He was just a class act. If all of us mimicked what Phil Hill was all about, we'd all have a wonderful life. So, thank you very much."
Haywood should not have been that surprised given his career accomplishments which include winning more endurance racing classics than any other driver in motorsports history. The Chicago native now living in St. Augustine is a five-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three-time champion of the 24 Hours of LeMans – the same as Hill – and twice winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring.
As has become the custom, the Hill honoree is interviewed by Rahal, Letterman-style, and Haywood thoroughly captivated his audience of more than 230 RRDC members and guests with tales of derring-do.
Haywood accepts the Phil Hill Award from RRDC president Bobby Rahal. [Brian Cleary image]
After retiring from full-time driving in 2008, Haywood returned to the Brumos No. 59 Porsche Riley for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, scoring third place in 2009 and fifth in 2011. The next year marked his final run for the 50th Daytona 24. It was also his 40th Rolex 24 start, appropriately ending on the podium with a third-place finish.
Haywood is Vice President of Brumos Porsche in Jacksonville, Fla., and serves as chief driving instructor for the Porsche Sport Driving School and Brumos Driving Experience. He is a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the Sebring Hall of Fame and Watkins Glen's "Legends of the Glen."
The Phil Hill Award is presented annually by the RRDC to a person considered to have rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body.
PETER SACHS RECEIVES THE BOB AKIN AWARD
In his introduction of Peter Sachs as recipient of the 2013 Bob Akin Award, Archie Urciuoli said, "We're pleased to present this award to Peter Sachs, a longtime member of the RRDC.
"He raced early on in gymkhanas, then got hooked up with some guy named Skip Barber while they were in school together. He competed in England in a Turner at places such as Silverstone and Brands Hatch and eventually got involved in the British Saloon Car championship in a Chevy II, winning several races against competitors like Graham Hill, Roy Salvadori, Jack Sears and Mike Parkes."
Peter Sachs holds the Bob Akin Award flanked by RRDC president Bobby Rahal on his right, Akins' son Bobby Akin on his immediate left and Archie Urciuoli. [Brian Cleary image]
Sachs, who has been retired from both work and racing for several years, said, “I am overcome by this. About 56 years ago when I was a freshman in college before I started gymkhanas as a kid, one summer I went to see some friends in the Midwest and we drove up to this place called Elkhart Lake to see the SCCA June Sprints. In those days when you went to Elkhart Lake the big teams took over car dealerships or gas stations.
"I got into the Cunningham garage and there was a helmet on the bench and I said to one of the kids working for Momo, 'What's that?' 'That's Mr. Hansgen's helmet, don't touch it,' he replied. I was not about to touch Walt Hansgen's helmet, but on the front of it was this symbol that a lot of us are wearing on our lapels tonight. 'What's that emblem on the front of his helmet?' I asked. And he said, 'That's the Road Racing Drivers Club and only the best drivers in the country can join that.'
"And I said to myself, Gee, I love motor racing, and if I could do some of this, I thought maybe some day, somehow, I could be part of that organization. And to receive this award tonight, in the name of my friend Bob Akin, is more important to me than you can imagine.
"I hope in the years to come I'm still doing the things which make me a worthy recipient of this award and to live up to the challenge in the future."
The distinctive Steuben Glass trophy was conceived in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2002 and is considered the top award in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers. The selection is made by Akin’s son Bobby, Brian Redman, Archie Urciuoli and is approved by the RRDC president.
LAWRENCE LOSHAK FORMALLY PRESENTED THE MARK DONOHUE AWARD
Lawrence Loshak has known since Sunday afternoon of the 2013 SCCA National Championships at Road America that he had been voted by a panel of RRDC members the 43rd winner of the Mark Donohue Award for the most outstanding drive of the event. Loshak knew that; but when he stood as the honoree among the gathering of RRDC members at the Daytona dinner, he felt the full impact of his accomplishment.
"To be here tonight meeting people that I've always read about, always idolized, is pretty overwhelming,” said the 36-year-old Wisconsin native, now a four-time SCCA National Champion.
"This award means so much, especially at this time of my life. I've always heard of the Award, read about it, and I never thought I would be the one receiving it. It's just amazing. I have trouble putting it into words. To be sitting here in this room and being brought up on the stage and the spotlight is on me? It's overwhelming, and epic, and fantastic."
Lawrence Loshak (third from left) poses with the presenters of the Mark Donohue Award. That's Bobby Rahl on the far left, next to Donohue's son David Donohue holding the wheel that forms the base of the trophy. Dorsey Schroeder (far right) holds the engraved glass table top. [Brian Cleary image]
The presenters were David Donohue – Mark Donohue’s son – Dorsey Schroeder and Rahal. Donohue said, "There are two important aspects to being eligible for this award: one, you don't have to actually win the race or be the champion; and the other is the winner is chosen by RRDC members who view each race and can identify each driver's talent and effort."
Although he had claimed pole position in Formula 1000, a misinterpretation of the schedule caused him to arrive late to the grid, and he was relegated to the rear. Loshak passed 16 cars on the first lap in the rain, then went on to win the race.
"One of the things that is so pleasurable for me," said Schroeder, a retired race-car driver turned TV commentator, "is to attend the amateur SCCA Runoffs. It's our heritage, our lineage; it's what we all came from, and it still is.
"There's one race in each class, and it's a half-hour long. You give it your best, your crew does its best for you and that one race sometimes changes your life. That race is the most important thing on that day.
"There are a lot of races at the Runoffs, there are a lot of drivers we have to look at. You have to be outstanding to get our attention, and Lawrence Loshak got our attention, big time."
The trophy itself is a coffee table of sorts with an engraved glass top resting on a race-tested wheel – this year’s being a rear from one of the BMW Team RLL BMW Z4GTE’s that ran in the 2013 ALMS GT category and was presented by Bobby Rahal on behalf of Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan Racing.
Get out your magnifying glass and find yourself - or your favorite racer - in this photo of the RRDC Daytona dinner guests. Or better yet, scroll down past Mario, turn your screen 90 deg to the right or your head 90 deg to the left and see a larger view. [Brian Cleary image]
LONG BEACH – MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The next big event for the RRDC this year is the annual Long Beach Banquet, Thursday, April 10. You’ll be receiving information over the next two months. This year, the theme will be An Evening with Mario Andretti who was this past weekend enshrined in the National Motor Press Association's Hall of Fame.
Always one with a unique view of the world of motorsports, Andretti will provide host Bobby Rahal with enough fodder for a fascinating and entertaining evening.
TILT YOUR SCREEN 90 DEGREES TO THE RIGHT OR YOUR HEAD 90 DEGREES TO THE LEFT
There, isn't that a lot better? Some scrolling may be required. Note: the RRDC is not responsible for chiropractic bills. Neither is the photographer, Brian Cleary.