Jason Ott, winner of the 2022 SCCA Touring 3 National Championship on September 30, 2022, was named the 2022 recipient of the Road Racing Drivers Club’s Mark Donohue Award. Ott was honored at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on January 25, 2023, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Selected by members of the RRDC each year since 1971, the award recognizes the driver exhibiting the most outstanding performance at the annual Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs in terms of personal spirit and skill behind the wheel. The honor was named after Mark Donohue, a former SCCA Champion and president of the RRDC, following his death in 1975.
Making his 20th appearance at the SCCA Runoffs (September 24–October 2, 2022) at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, Ott earned his first-career Runoffs pole position to lead the Touring 3 class field that included five past SCCA National Champions to the green flag. While qualifying was held under perfect conditions, the remnants of Hurricane Ian brought heavy rain and 40 mph wind gusts to the 40-minute, winner-take-all championship race.Driving his No. 09 Alpine Motorsports BMW Z4M, Ott held off a flurry of attacks and kept his car on the pavement and in the lead while his rivals slid off track in pursuit. He took the checkered flag 2.236 seconds ahead of his brother, and teammate, Steve Ott, to earn his first career SCCA National Championship after finishing runner-up three times previously.
“To win this award is a huge honor and one that was not expected,” said Ott. “To be mentioned in the same breath as a man who accomplished so much in racing is humbling. Also, in reading ‘The Unfair Advantage’ and learning how hard he and Mr. Penske worked to win is inspiring. Thank you to the members of the RRDC for this incredible honor.“I would say, honestly, this year we put in more work and development than we have in the last couple of years and that is what it takes to win. I must give a special thanks to Dan Spirek, Alpine Motorsports’ Jim Leithauser and my brother Steve. These guys are incredible and absolutely were the reason we were able to win. We did everything you are not supposed to do at the Runoffs, had a crash in the test day, then essentially threw multiple changes at the cars to win.
“The race this year was intense. Hurricane Ian kept getting worse during the race. The track conditions were changing every lap and we really had to adjust our line almost every lap to compensate for new puddles or water flowing across the track. Steve was coming in a hurry. One more lap would have most likely seen him take the win.
“Finally, without the support of family, friends and sponsors, this could never happen. Thank you very much to Hoosier, BimmerWorld, BimmerHaus, Spyglass Engineering, G-Loc brakes and of course to SCCA and all the volunteers.”
The unique award has a glass top and sits on a race wheel with a historic provenance. RRDC President Bobby Rahal presented Ott with the award, which included a wheel donated by Mike Shank Racing that was used on the Acura ARX05 DPi car driven by Tom Bloomqvist, Oliver Jarvis, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud to victory at the 2022 Rolex 24 At Daytona, as well as the 2022 Petit Le Mans and the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Championship.
“Winning the SCCA Runoffs is a tremendous achievement for any race-car driver,” said Rahal, the 1985 Indy 500 Champion and a fellow SCCA National Champion. “Jason’s perseverance through his career and outstanding performance in very challenging conditions at VIR is worthy of special recognition. We congratulate Jason and welcome him into the RRDC family.”